Hiring HR Remix

When Did HR Get The Power To Hire People!?


An article with an interesting title popped up on my radar this past week: “Why HR Needs to Stop Passing Over the Long-Term Unemployed.”  Wait…I have the power to decide who to hire at work?

Before I get into my thoughts on the article, let me give you some background on how the hiring process generally works at companies:

  1. A position is open.  A hiring manager gets approval from the CEO and posts a “We’re Hiring” sign on the front door, puts an ad in the paper or gets referrals from current employees, reviews the candidates and decides who to hire.  HR isn’t involved because they are too busy doing payroll or HR as you and I know it doesn’t even exist.
  2. Hiring manager gets a job opening approved and sends it to the HR team where a recruiter or a generalist (someone who does a lot of HR stuff including recruiting) posts the position in any number of places: the local newspaper, job boards, company website, LinkedIn, etc. Resume’s are received and sent to the hiring manager for their review.  Hiring manager decides who to bring in and interview, HR does a cursory “sanity check” interview and the hiring manager decides who hire.
  3. A new job is approved. The recruiter gets an email from an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to open and post the position. The recruiter posts the position in the usual places (they typically work on a consistent basis with the same hiring manager). As the resumes come in the ATS does a cursory review to make sure candidates meet the basic qualification. The recruiter reviews the remaining candidate resumes then forwards the good ones to the hiring manager. A series of interviews take place and in consultation with their local HR pro the hiring manager makes a decision.

Are the above scenarios indicative of hiring is done at every organization? No.  Does the process have many different variations? Yes. The above is a generalization.

Now, of the above three scenarios which do you think happens most frequently? Hint…it’s not number three.

At a lot of places HR is focused on paying people correctly and on time. Often there is little time or manpower to review resumes or even be part of the interview process.

So back to the article “Why HR Needs to Stop Passing Over the Long-Term Unemployed” once you read through the piece you realize that the author references hiring manager not HR.

Did HBR think the title “Why Managers Need to Stop Passing Over the Long-Term Unemployed” would offend too much of their audience? The comments are full of complaints about HR.  But the article itself (except for the title) does not even mention HR! Somehow the hiring manager that asks “If you had to get rid of one state in the US, which would it be and why?” is not even recognized as being part of the hiring process!

In many hiring decisions at many organizations the decision rests solely with the hiring manager/team, AS IT SHOULD. A good HR pro is qualified to advise you on finding the right candidates, asking the right questions in an interview and helping you make a decision on the best candidate with the background and qualities you need on your team. And yes, that includes putting all qualified applicants in front of a manager…even the long term unemployed.  A good HR pro can positively influence the hiring decision but can’t make that decision themselves and definitely shouldn’t force a decision.

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HRManNZ August 7, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Are HR not responsible for your hiring strategy though? They should be! If all your in-house recruiters are doing are posting ads and gate keeping CVs get rid of them. Part of their role should be to identify all options for hiring, develop partnerships with organizations that help promote diversity and educate managers.

Melissa August 7, 2013 at 8:27 pm

In the best HR groups they do work with the business line to develop strategy but unlike the article’s title HR is not and should NOT be responsible for the final hiring decision (unless of course its for an HR position). Thanks for the comment!

Laurie August 8, 2013 at 9:28 am

HR does a bulk of the screening and pre-qualifying of candidates. So it’s implied, not overt, power to hire. But I think it exists.

Karin Wills August 8, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Agree Laurie, it is implied. Simply screening out initial applicants is a decision and one often done by HR. The final decision belongs to the hiring manager but in many organizations HR is very much involved in the process.

Melissa August 8, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Thanks for the insight Karin and Laurie! A couple thoughts:

There are companies where HR is either a gate keeper or a screener or has influence over the process BUT there are just as many where HR has very little influence.

I think its unfair to blame “HR” for passing over the long term unemployed. HR is a lot of different things at a lot of different companies and to put all of HR into a lump that discriminates against the long term unemployed fails to acknowledge how the hiring process differs across organizations.

Karin August 9, 2013 at 8:15 pm

There is no reasonable way to lump all HR into any one method or concept; I know HR practitioners that do discriminate citing different rationale, and I know practitioners that have the integrity not to do so. I believe that the three HR set ups presented in the article though do not cover by any stretch the many different practices globally, professionally or individually of people that work in the HR field. Certainly none of them reflect any practice I worked in prior to my career change.

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