The Biggest Hiring Mistake Companies Make

Today a headhunter sent me the specs for a position he is trying to fill. One quick glance through raised more red flags than you’d see at a Chinese parade. The offending job description included these choice phrases:

“…looking for a process improvement professional… newly created position leading effort to streamline Sales and Marketing processes.”

Below, the company listed the must-have attributes for the new hire. The very first skill they are looking for? “Some kind of Six Sigma certification. BLACK BELTS WILL BE GIVEN PREFERENCE.”

In good conscience I could not recommend anyone in my network even consider a job like this, because the hiring company was making a huge, costly mistake:

Hiring a full time employee when an outside expert was the better solution.

  1. Process expertise in streamlining sales and marketing is not a core competency for this company. It is not something they must be expert in and would need over and over again to create value for their own customers. As a pharmaceutical research firm, they should be hiring expertise in drug development.
  2. What is that marketing process expert going to do once she’s finished streamlining the sales and marketing efforts? The quicker and more efficiently she does her job, the quicker she will have worked her way into a superfluous role.
  3. Similarly, once an outside expert leaves, the return on your investment continues to grow for year after year. A full-time employee must continually deliver an incremental $6 in revenue for every $1 in compensation for as long as they are employed just to maintain a steady ROI on their employment.
  4. The hiring company understandably wants a person who has industry knowledge and experience; however, what will serve them best is a person who has spent their career developing extraordinary skills in streamlining sales and marketing processes, not a person who has spent their career focusing on one industry.
  5. The specifications insisted on a particular approach to streamlining: six sigma, which presumes they know more than experts in the practice of improving sales and marketing practices. They have bought into a single methodology hook, line and sinker and thereby are barring entry to innovative thinkers and breakthrough practitioners who could suggest an approach that would yield faster results, better returns and lower risk.

Companies often turn to the outside for help with problems they could easily solve in house. Unfortunately, as in this case, they also commit a cardinal hiring sin: bringing on a full time employee who, 99 times out of 100, won’t deliver results comparable to an outside expert.

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