Is Human Resources your best Recruiting Resource?
Posted Saturday, November 30th, 2013
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Is Human Resources your best Recruiting Resource?

Published in SatNews Worldwide Magazine, December 2013, Bert Sadtler, Senior Contributor

To assist with career and leadership issues, SatMagazine asked Bert Sadtler of Boxwood Executive Search to provide his insight. Boxwood is a management, consulting recruiting firm with offices just outside of Washington DC and in Bradenton, Florida. Boxwood’s services involve job growth, maximizing the performance of critical, senior level talent and addressing the shift in the recruitment and compensation paradigm for employers.

In traditional business models, the need for an employer to acquire talent is and always has been the responsibility of Human Resources. The name “Human Resources” itself says,  “We are all about the existing employees and adding new ones.” If it were that simple, then candidates would be joyous in their anticipation of interviewing with the employer’s HR team, and hiring managers would regard their HR as a partner/team member who solved business problems by proactively landing the right fit before the hiring manager’s critical need ever reached a top priority.


The issue that too few business leaders are discussing is:  How ineffective HR has become as a recruiting resource and what to do about it?

Where has HR lost its way?  What has changed inside of business that drives HR to an unachievable goal?


One response might be: “What hasn’t changed?”

By its basic definition, business is in a constant change. Businesses are making daily adjustments in order to remain relevant and valuable to their marketplace. Few companies would consider returning to a previous, older business model. And yet, some employers are attempting to freeze time by using an outdated HR model.

In a simpler time, the requirements for HR to manage an employer’s benefit package and also an employer’s recruiting could have worked. Today’s HR responsibilities have morphed into a complex and somewhat opposing field of disciplines.

Today’s marketplace has become more complex and more specialized.

  • Employee benefits have become very expensive and complex. The trend is for them to become more so.  A benefits expert can deliver significant value to their employer. Today’s benefits expert is required to perform critical analytics.
  • The personality who excels at analytics is not necessarily the same type of personality who is as enthusiastic about pursuing talent in the marketplace.
  • In addition to maintaining a command of analytical data, Employee Relations has become its own complex field of specialization.
  • Today’s businesses have minimal margin for error in hiring critical talent. Employers have to get it right, every time. Recruiting today is less about resumes and stale interview questions. Candidates have rehearsed answers to predicated behavioral and situational questions.
  • Best-Practice-Recruiting today is solving a critical business problem. To be effective, the recruiting resource must have a command of the business problem, the existing chemistry of the hiring manager and a dedicated amount of time in order to filter out the majority of applicants and select the few candidates who possess both a technical fit and also possess the right cultural fit.
  • The individual who has a command of the business problem and enjoys pursuing qualified candidates does not necessarily have the personality to also excel at digesting analytical benefits-related data.

Under the outdated traditional approach, employers are asking their HR Experts to be the jockey on the racehorse in the morning and the center on the basketball team in the afternoon.

Are employers asking HR to provide more than can be expected?  How can HR be deliver market-value as the master of multiple disciplines?

My HR friends acknowledge (off-line) that they can master one discipline or the other but struggle when required to master diverse and somewhat opposing disciplines. They have commented that today’s business leadership wouldn’t ask an Operations Expert, Marketing Expert, Finance Expert or Sales Expert to be the master of multiple opposing disciplines.

So what is the harm in keeping the same HR model in place for as long as possible?

Consequences of the legacy model include:

  • Employers hiring “the available candidate”, but not even interviewing the best candidates.
  • Getting hiring right is more critical now then ever. The expense of a failed hire is more expensive every day. Estimated costs of a failed hire are as much as 15 times annual salary.
  • Business leaders with significant P&L responsibilities must follow an outdated policy where HR dictates the recruiting process without having a command of the business problem being solved. This results in the employer’s failure to hire the “Best Talent”.
  • With an analytical mindset, there is limited opportunity for the HR Expert to engage conversationally with critical talent and transition from stale interview questions into a business discussion.
  • Today’s recruiting is much more than trying to excite candidates with “ a great benefit package.” Because it is within their expertise, many HR Experts fall into a benefit presentation during their recruitment discussion and fail to focus on the candidate’s ability to solve the critical business problem.


On a broader level, following the legacy HR Recruiting Model may be saying much more about the employer’s challenges to maintain marketplace relevance.


Larger organizations face a bigger challenge making changes. For the organizations that remain static, they will experience more nimble, more creative and more adaptive organizations passing them by.

Where is the HR / Recruiting trend heading?

Through some trial and error, today’s emerging HR model is centering Human Resources on disciplines that include:
– Benefits
– Employee Relations
– Related “inter-company priorities”

First, a member of senior leadership has to be assigned the responsibility of acquiring critical talent in order to solve business problems. This senior leader is split-off from the traditional HR responsibilities. With the assignment to acquire critical talent, one avenue is to engage with outside professionals including one of a multiple of recruitment models. Another would be to develop a group of internal “business specialists”, reporting directly to the business unit (not HR) and responsible for solving business problems through the acquisition of critical talent. This is disconnected from the responsibilities of analyzing benefit related data and is measured on acquiring the right talent and focused on longer term problem solving.

If talent is about business, and people are about talent, then shouldn’t Best-Practice-Recruiting focus on spending time with talent while discussing business issues?

No doubt, adjusting the legacy model may not be easy or simple. Nor is it easy or simple when your competitors are growing by acquiring great talent and your organization isn’t.

Good hunting!