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The need for greater trust in recruitment

By Kara Atkinson


In the digital era, fast-paced, competitive business environments reward those who are quick to respond to new opportunities and market challenges. Trust plays a vital role in the success of these initiatives, providing a cornerstone for building strategic partnerships, establishing a reputation, embracing digital transformation, and more.

Today, this once-stable foundation is crumbling under the pressure of royal commissions, and large-scale data breaches faced en-masse by organisations in every industry, and we’re quickly losing our footing. This sobering trend is made apparent in a new survey conducted by Harvard Business Review, in which nearly two-thirds (63%) of senior executives at large enterprises throughout the world stated that trust among people, businesses, and institutions has declined over the past two years. Further, after 20 years of research, the Great Places to Work Institute found that experiencing a high level of trust, between leaders and employees, is the primary defining characteristic of the very best workplaces.


The challenges

When looking at recruitment, if the process for joining a workplace is engineered through a broken vehicle, then trust is difficult to establish.

Leaders deal with subjective candidate vetting; their recruitment firm only shortlists the people on the market at that time rather than a shortlist of the best people.

On the other side, the candidate deals with unreturned calls, the black hole of resume submissions, and last-minute internal candidate competition and an emotional minefield of career guidance from short term relationships with inexperienced recruitment consultants.

The recruiter deals with outdated, generic job descriptions, usually supplied by their clients. The market is corrupted by over promotion of the same roles. Also, everyone competes in a time-stamped environment where speed wins over quality.


The environment

Hiring is never easy. According to a study by Leadership IQ, 46% of newly-hired employees will fail within 18 months, while only 19% will achieve unequivocal success. This lack of vision keeps companies from achieving the holy grail of business outcomes: Trust. This is what keeps teams drowning in a sea of mediocrity and what derails once-promising leadership careers. And this stops trust from developing.

Career ladders are long gone – where once a person signed onto an organisation at 21, followed the rules, were incrementally promoted along the way and retired with a gold watch. As companies have thinned out, leadership positions have disappeared, not to be seen again.

Career pyramids have replaced the ladders. The further up the pyramid people move, the hotter the competition for the top spot and the failure rates are staggering. Harvard Business Review puts the failure rate among management hires at 60% and the consequences of failure derail a once-promising career and cost the organisation time, money and trust.


The way forward

It is time for the recruitment industry to rewrite the rules of recruitment. Not just improve it, but, just as Uber did to the taxi industry, they need to transform and disrupt it. Every recruiter is an ‘expert non-transactional specialist with a proprietary search methodology who has access to deep global networks.’ Where is the recruiter who builds their business, and yours, on a foundation of competence, bespoke communication and trust?

Leaders must understand that a true employee value proposition is not only written in the first line of a job ad but is permeated through every touchpoint their prospective employee has.

Kara Atkinson is an executive recruitment expert with 18 years’ experience in helping people continue to build and transform themselves throughout their careers.

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