April 1, 2013

Why HR should get out of the hiring business

Filed under: Heads up, Hiring, Q&A, Readers' Forum, Recruiting, Stuff I worry about

In the April 2, 2013 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a job hunter complains about HR:

Throughout my career I have gotten new jobs by meeting and talking to managers who would be my bosses. Now I keep running into the Human Resources roadblock in companies where I’d like to talk to a manager about a job. Honestly, I just don’t see the reason for silly online application forms or for “screeners” who don’t understand the work I do, when companies complain they cannot find the right talent. I really don’t get it. Why do companies even have HR departments involved in hiring?

Nick’s Reply

Good question. Better question: Should Human Resources (HR) be in the recruiting and hiring business? My answer is an emphatic NO for three main reasons, though there are many others.

this_way_outFirst, HR is qualified to recruit and hire only other HR workers. HR is not expert in marketing, engineering, manufacturing, accounting, or any other function. HR is thus not the best manager of recruiting, candidate selection, interviewing, or hiring for any of those corporate departments.

Second, HR takes recruiting and hiring out of the hands of managers who should be handling these critical tasks. Finding and hiring good people are two of the most crucial jobs managers have. In The Recruiting Paradox I offer employers three simple suggestions for improving recruiting:

  • Don’t send a Human Resources clerk to do a manager’s job,
  • Put your managers in the game from the start, and
  • Deliver value to the candidate throughout the job application process.

I think companies suffer when they subject applicants to the impersonal and bureaucratic experience of dealing with HR.

Which brings me to the third reason HR should be taken out of the recruiting and hiring business: HR has no skin in the game. It virtually doesn’t matter who is recruited, processed, or hired because HR isn’t held accountable. It’s hardly HR’s fault, but it’s a rare company that rewards or blames HR for the quality of hiring. HR is typically insulated as a “necessary overhead function.”

Don’t get me wrong: There are some very good people working in HR, and there may be a legitimate role for HR in many companies. But HR’s domination of recruiting and hiring has led to a disaster of staggering magnitude in our economy. In the middle of one of the biggest talent gluts in American history, employers complain they can’t fill jobs.

Don’t miss Harvard Webinar Audio: Can I stand out in the talent glut?


talent_shortageAccording to PBS NewsHour estimates, there are over 27 million Americans looking for work, either because they are unemployed or under-employed. (The U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there are 12 million unemployed.) I prefer the NewsHour figure because it tells us just how big the pool of available talent is. Concurrently, BLS also reports there are 3.7 million jobs vacant.

HR has a special term for this 7:1 ratio of available talent to vacant jobs. HR departments and employers call this 7:1 job-market advantage “The Great Talent Shortage!”

While the economy has put massive numbers of talented workers on the street, HR nonetheless complains it can’t find the workers it needs. That’s no surprise when HR’s idea of finding talent is to resort to database searches and keyword filtering, which are disastrously inadequate methods for finding and attracting the best hires.

The typical HR process of recruiting and hiring is most generously described as hiring who comes along via job boards and advertisements. It’s a rare (and precious) HR worker who gets up from behind the computer display to actually go find, meet, and bring home good candidates.

“The typical explanation for why HR recruiters have no time to recruit actively is that they have too many resumes to sort. This very real problem is solved easily: Stop soliciting and accepting resumes.”

Go recruit! (That’s just one of 7 Mistakes Internal Recruiters Make.)

I could write pages about corporate maladies that arise from employers’ over-reliance on HR to recruit and hire. Instead, I’m just going to list some of the ways HR can kill any company’s competitive edge by interfering with these management functions:

Wasting money
Last year, almost a billion dollars was sucked up by just one online “job board,” Monster.com, which was reported as the “source of hires” only 1.3% of the time by employers surveyed. HR could be advocating for the personal touch in recruiting, but blows massive recruiting budgets on job boards with little to show in return.

Hiring who comes along
Job boards and similar advertisements — the high-volume, passive recruiting tools HR relies on — yield only applicants who come along, not those a company should be pursuing.

Wasting good hires
Good candidates are lost because database algorithms and keyword filters miss indicators of quality that are not captured by software. And highly qualified technical applicants are rejected because they are screened not by other technical experts, but by HR, which is too far removed from business units that need to select the best candidates.

Mistaking quantity for quality
HR has turned recruiting into a volume operation — the more applicants, the better. This results in impersonal, superficial reviews of candidates and quick, high-volume yes/no decisions that are prone to error.

Excusing unprofessional behavior
Soliciting far more applicants than HR can process properly results in unprofessional HR behavior, angry applicants and damage to corporate reputations. HR routinely suggests that the high volume of applicants it must process explains its rude no-time-for-thank-yous-or-follow-ups behavior — while it expects job applicants to adhere to strict rules of professional conduct.

Failing to be accountable
Because HR does not report to the departments it recruits for, it tends to behave inefficiently and unaccountably with impunity. The bureaucracy grows without checks and balances, and the hiring process becomes dull, rather than honed to a true competitive edge.

Marginalizing professional networks
HR tends to isolate managers from the initial recruiting and screening process, further deteriorating the already weak links between managers and the professional communities they need to recruit from.

Bureaucratizing a strategic function
The complexity of corporate HR infrastructure encourages isolation and siloing. Evidence of this is HR’s over-emphasis of legal risks in recruiting and its administrative domination of this top-level business function.

Wasting time
With recruiting and hiring relegated to an often cumbersome HR process, managers cannot hire in a timely way. Good candidates are frequently lost to the competition. (HR doesn’t have to deal with the consequences, but when a good sales candidate is lost to a competitor, the sales department loses twice.)

Killing a company’s competitive edge
HR owns two competing interests, further dulling a company’s competitive edge: the hiring process and legal/compliance functions. Because hiring is a strategic, competitive function, it deserves its own advocate. If business units and managers took full responsibility for recruiting and hiring (while HR handled compliance) the daily abrasion of these competing interests would strengthen a company’s edge.

take_a_hikeThis catastrophe didn’t occur overnight. It crept up on business in the form of a smothering shroud of red tape. Today this HR bureaucracy is propped up by an industry of “consultants,” “professionals,” and “experts” who advise corporate HR departments about how to maintain their administrative stranglehold over the key differentiator that defines any company — its people. And in turn, HR funds the database-induced job-board stupor and online-application-form addiction that’s killing employers and job hunters alike.

It’s time for HR to get out of the recruiting and hiring business, and to give this strategic function back to business units and managers who design, build, manufacture, market and sell a company’s products. Who better to decide who’s worth hiring? Who better to aggressively go find the people who will give the company an edge?

In the meantime, job hunters have no choice but to Outsmart The Employment System.

Should HR relinquish its recruiting and hiring functions? Have you experienced related problems with HR, either as a hiring manager or as a job applicant? What do you think should be done about it? (And if you think I’m wrong, please tell me why.)

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94 Comments on “Why HR should get out of the hiring business”
By Nick Corcodilos
April 9, 2013 at 11:37 am

@Chryssa: Why is it that HR can’t stick to administration, and hiring managers to recruiting and hiring? No one in HR has ever been able to give me one cogent reason why managers can’t manage those two functions. I’m not arguing that they already do — but that they should. Why shouldn’t “the system” be altered to accomplish this? I’d love to hear some reasons (1) why HR should retain control of recruiting and hiring, and (2) why managers can’t or shouldn’t do it.

By Evelyn Gray
April 10, 2013 at 10:16 am


Loved your article. If HR calls the applicant in for an interview after reading their resume, then why does HR tell that person they’re overqualified when HR doesn’t even do the job for the position they’re interviewing for in the first place?

Is HR really looking for qualified people who don’t have to be micromanaged, or are they looking for the cheapest person to hire which costs them a lot more money in the long-run affecting the company’s profit margin? Remember, “cheaper isn’t necessarily better.”

Doesn’t make sense to me when someone is told they’re overqualified for a job. If the applicant wants the job, the company could greatly benefit from their knowledge and/or experience.

There’s so much to learn when working for a new company. And don’t you think that someone who’s been working for a company for a while will outgrow their position and become bored and not do their job with the enthusiasm they once had when they first got it?

So I think sometimes, HR doesn’t look at the enthusiasm and knowledge base an applicant would bring into a company. New ideas always have the possibility of growing a company.

Do you really think someone would take a job they’d be bored with in the first place? Most people look for opportunities to grow.

By Evelyn Gray
April 10, 2013 at 10:24 am


Loved your article. If HR calls the applicant in for an interview after reading their resume, then why does HR tell that person they’re overqualified when HR doesn’t even do the job for the position they’re interviewing for in the first place? Doesn’t make sense to me. If the applicant wants the job, the company could greatly benefit from their knowledge base.

There’s so much to learn when working for a new company. And don’t you think that someone who’s been working for a company for a while will outgrow their position and become bored and not do their job with the enthusiasm they once had when they first got it?

Is HR really looking for qualified people who they don’t have to be micromanage, or are they looking for the cheapest person to hire which costs them a lot more money in the long-run affecting the company’s profit margin? Remember, “cheaper isn’t necessarily better.”

So I think sometimes, HR doesn’t look at the enthusiasm and knowledge base an applicant would bring into a company. New ideas always have the possibility of growing a company. Why miss that opportunity of hiring that person?

Do you really think someone would take a job they’d be bored with in the first place? Most people look for opportunities to grow.

By Don
April 10, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Just listened to the Gil Gross audio. I’m in the 50+ age group looking for work with 30+ years in Technology. Now I know why there is such a lack of responses from submitting online applications. I’ve had some success (getting interviews)through recruiters and personal networking. I am amazed that businesses are putting so much trust in their HR staff to “thin” the applicant pool. Thanks for the great insight.

By Nick Corcodilos
April 11, 2013 at 9:05 am

@Evelyn: I agree with every single point you make. The trouble is, HR is not hiring anyone. It’s processing them, and pretending it’s hiring. That’s why it all seems so irrational. HR tries to “add value” to the process, but in fact does damage.

People sometimes take jobs they don’t want, to pay the rent and buy food. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as they deliver 100%. As you point out, people leave jobs for various reasons. HR acts like it can avoid that by not hiring the over-qualified. HR should be asking itself, If I hire this person with such great qualifications, what’s the best way for our company to capitalize on that? Because it’s good news, not a reason for rejection.

By Dave
April 11, 2013 at 10:00 am

@Evelyn Gray

Well stated! I agree 100% with all of your points.

I get “harassed” by recruitment for jobs that are merely a slide over (at best) instead of a step up. These jobs would be a nominal pay increase at best, and I would end up losing current benefits at my current job. In other words, you are not offering me enough to leave.

By Diamond Davve
April 12, 2013 at 7:47 pm

In the end, talking to candidates on the phone or in person is how you make decisions on adding them to the candidate pool. More resumes is not the answer. More job postings is not the answer.

Since a resume can’t be an indicator of a great candidate, the process of recruiting relies on phone calls, meetings, and hard decisions. no key word search or ATS can overcome a real interaction with another person.

And while we’re at it, here’s my plea to recruiters, HR Professionals, and Hiring Managers everywhere:
it’s time to start giving candidates that get dinged from the process real feedback on why they didn’t get the role or give them some performance suggestions on ways to make a difference in their job search. Stop worrying about legal implications or awkward moments. I’ve always felt that a top level recruiter leaves candidates in as good or better shape than they found them.


By Dave
April 15, 2013 at 10:46 am

I read a comment on another site relating to a news story…

To summarize, part of the problem you get a ton of resumes (and claim to need ATS) is because in the current system it’ll take many tries to at least get a pair of eyeballs to look at your resume. So, people apply to jobs that look “reasonable” (i.e. in your field, have some of the requirements, etc.) because they simply don’t know what your looking for, etc. What’s the worst thing to happen, you get no answer?

HR/Recruiters/Head Hunters/Hiring managers have to break the cycle.

By Nick Corcodilos
April 15, 2013 at 1:59 pm

@Dave: That’s exactly what’s going on, and it’s exactly what needs to happen next. Break the cycle. But getting off the ATS teat is virtually impossible for employers. I think job hunters have to break the cycle by refusing to play the game.

By marybeth
April 16, 2013 at 6:04 pm

I agree–we do have the break the cycle. The challenge lies in convincing others (meaning employers) to do so. For example, I was recently told about a job opening and given the name of the hiring manager. I researched the company, talked to my contact about them (and the people working there), and decided to try for it. I contacted the hiring manager, mentioned my contact’s name (he told me to do this), and after having a productive conversation with the hiring manager, gave him a preview of what I can do for the company (you have a problem, here’s how I’d solve it). The hiring manager was interested, but then came the kiss of death–he told me that all applicants have to fill out an online application/download a résumé to their site so HR can decide who is qualified. Yeah, I know what means–it means my résumé gets scanned by a computer looking for keywords, impossible skills, the right age, whatever without ever having a pair of HUMAN eyes read it. If I don’t perfectly match whatever criteria the HR dept. selects, or if they deem I’m too old, my application will be spat out and I’ll be informed 1.5 seconds later that I’m unqualified for the job. In the meantime, the job goes unfilled and the hiring manager stated that they NEED someone to do it. But they’re going to be stupid and wait for the perfect candidate because they’d rather rely on a computer than on the hiring manager. And I’m not just blaming HR–the hiring manager & management have some ownership in this mess too.

By David Hunt
April 16, 2013 at 6:39 pm


Pardon the cynicism, but that sounds like one of the worst cases of corporate cranio-rectal inversions I’ve ever heard told.

By David Hunt
April 17, 2013 at 5:15 am


As a followup… I understand that HR wants to play a role. But if a hiring manager likes you and wants to bring you in – TO NICK’S POINT – the hiring manager should be the final decider, NOT HR.

By marybeth
April 17, 2013 at 6:00 pm

@David Hunt: I’ve gotten very cynical too, and with good reason. Nick has given us great tools for getting around this problem of HR commandeering the hiring process, and, to add insult to injury, using a computer software program/algorithm to screen out candidates. I’m very frustrated; I finally found a job (part-time, so I’m in the ranks of the under-employed, but it is better than being unemployed) last fall after being unemployed for nearly 2 years. I’ve learned from Nick and from others’ posts that the best way, indeed the ONLY way to get hired is to do my research (do I want to work for this company or agency, what is it like to work there, etc.), network with the hiring manager (if you can find out who that is–some companies and agencies make the CIA look like gossipy blabbermouths because they hide the names and contact info for their managers so well), and if there is interest, then SHOW the hiring manager what I can do for him (rather than what the company can do for me). Nick is right–HR usually knows less than nothing about the open jobs, yet they’ve commandeered the hiring process in many companies and agencies. Only if I pass the computer’s screening will they deign to contact me. The problem is that a computer can’t tell the hiring manager, based upon the online application I’ve filled out or on the résumé I’ve downloaded, that I can do the job. HR can’t tell either, unless I happen to be applying for an HR job (which I’m not).

So yes, I agree wholeheartedly with Nick–HR should be banned from the hiring process; all they’ve managed to do is screw it up so badly that jobs go unfilled for months while millions of qualified people remain unemployed and/or underemployed.

But management has some ownership in this too. HR wouldn’t be involved in the hiring process if management didn’t let them get away with it. And what I learned is that if I meet and/or talk with a hiring manager who is “desperately” looking to fill an important position but then turns over the process to HR, that means the hiring manager isn’t really serious about hiring ANYONE, even if I come to him with the name of a contact we share and who can vouch for me.

I agree with you–the hiring manager should be the one to decide and inform HR “I’m hiring MaryBeth: here’s her contact info, so please get in touch with her to have her come down to fill out whatever paperwork you need.” The hiring manager who hides behind HR is as much a part of the problem as HR.

Nick’s advice is great, and now we need to get employers on board.

By David Hunt
April 17, 2013 at 6:13 pm


I had an interview last Friday. I got comments from 3 of 4 managers I met (two engineers were less forthright in their feedback)… all to the effect that they were impressed. Here’s hoping.

This Friday I’m having lunch with a VP of one target company; next week, tentatively, lunch with the Controller of another company.

The issue is that so, so, so many managers STILL do not understand the benefits of networking.

For example… there’s a company where a friend of mine works, and he’s hand-delivered my resume and portfolio to any number of people for specific open positions. Apparently this company is very big on personal referrals like this. What have I gotten? SQUAT.

The job descriptions are written tighter than the proverbial gnat’s hindquarters. And while I’ve got 90% of what they want, I’m missing one or two things… so instead of hiring me, and getting someone hardworking and enthusiastic and able to learn that last little bit, they’re waiting, and waiting, and waiting for that perfect fit to stumble into their lair. I could have been there and being productive already. This scenario plays out time and again with many people I know.

So it’s management, and HR. The question, then, is how do we – with essentially no pull whatsoever – get through to these people?

By Dave
April 18, 2013 at 3:22 pm

@David Hunt

I wonder if there was ever a case study done to say how much revenue/profit was lost due to a job going unfilled.

For example, I’ve heard at least 50% of new college graduates are unemployed/underemployed. You can’t tell me that hiring some of them, sending them to “boot camp” for a few weeks is any worse than letting the job remain open for a few months?

By David Hunt
April 18, 2013 at 3:39 pm


I remember, back in the 1990s, when I hired into Ford Motor. My then-boss said that he didn’t expect me to achieve anything significant for the first SIX MONTHS.

Nowadays companies are running so lean that hiring managers are obsessed with someone who can “hit the ground running” – and they’ve become so obsessed wih this quest that they’ve ignored reality – and the true needs of the business.

By marybeth
April 19, 2013 at 3:40 pm

@David Hunt: Good luck! Having an interview is positive (I can’t even begin to count the number of jobs I’ve applied for, the number of people I’ve talked to, etc., and like you, I’ve had ZERO response.)

Please let me know how you make out!

I think Dave is right–employers today expect new hires to be able to do the job perfectly with no training, no mentoring. I read an article recently in which a hiring manager bemoaned the “talent shortage” and wrote that businesses such as his couldn’t spare time from onerous training of new employees, including such time-consuming tasks such as showing them where the bathrooms are.

I think Nick would tell us that that is a huge warning sign–any employer that can’t be bothered to show new employees where the bathrooms are (and considers such a thing dumb and a waste of time) is not an employer anyone with half a brain wants to work for.

@Dave: I think you’re right, and it would be interesting to see the bottom line results of what it costs businesses and government when jobs go unfilled. What doesn’t get done that will eventually impact the bottom line? (That means maybe it won’t be felt until later in the year or even longer–not all decisions are felt in the current quarter) What about the costs to the employees who are already there? I bet a lot of those tasks (from the unfilled job) are distributed among those who remain, and eventually they get burned out because they can’t continue to do their jobs plus one or more other jobs. You can do it for a little while, but at some point you end up doing nothing well because you’re over-extended and burned out.

I think businesses and government have forgotten that no one, not even those who decide to make a lateral move, come perfectly trained, even if they’ve done that job before. Cultural differences between employers still mean that it does take new hires time to get up to speed. And at one time, businesses and government understood that training was their responsibility. There’s only so much college or vocational programs can do.

By Dave
April 26, 2013 at 10:50 am

Here’s an interesting article on the subject:


By marybeth
April 27, 2013 at 12:29 pm

@Dave: thanks for the link. Interesting article, and it merely confirms what I’ve suspected and heard–no shortage of talented STEM grads, but a shortage of talented American STEM grads who will work for two rupees per week.

By David Hunt
April 27, 2013 at 1:37 pm


I was at a conference on outsourcing some years ago. I heard two “suits” – executives – talking about white collar jobs going to India. One said “Why should I hire an American when I can get two Indians for the same price?”

This was in a low voice, obviously not meant to be overheard. But it exactly captures what you said.

I’m facing a similar thing in my job search right now. I’m barely able to ask for what I was making two jobs ago.

By marybeth
April 28, 2013 at 5:14 pm

@David Hunt:

What I wonder is whether those who are so anxious to hire Indian and Paki STEM graduates because they’re “cheap” compared to American STEM graduates have taken into account cultural differences. At my last job at a large state university, whenever we needed to pump up the numbers in our faculty pool, or even if we decided to do a legitimate faculty search (i.e., rather than having a pre-determined person in mind for the job and doing a fake search), we would advertise in the professional journals and online. The dept. sec’y would be swamped with CVs from what looked like the entire Indian sub-continent. Many of them didn’t bother to read the requirements–they had degrees in fields that bore no relation to our dept. Many others made all kinds of demands–they “required” us to buy homes, pay their sons’ school fees, buy cars, pay their bills, buy them the latest computers and software, and, here’s the kicker–they’d demand that we sponsor and pay for bringing 5,000 of their closest relatives to the US, and pay for their living expenses. It got so bad that the faculty heading the search committee would have the sec’y pre-sort through the CVs, and anyone who was from India or Pakistan automatically got nixed because they were such pains in the butt if the slightest interest was expressed. The demands they made far outweighed any benefit of having them on the faculty. And for the online program, trying to tell them that we expected them to stay in India and teach from there, and no, we would not be sponsoring them or anyone else to come here, nor pay their living expenses, food, sons’ school fees, buy them the newest computers, etc.

If part of the “cost” of hiring these folks on H1B1 visas includes bringing over not only their wives and sons but in-laws and their extended families, the costs increase, don’t they?

A friend of mine has a son who graduated two years ago with an engineering degree. He still can’t find an engineering job because he’s competing with Indians on H1B1 visas who will do the same job but will accept a salary of $25,000 per year. And I’m thoroughly disgusted with our Congress who plan to bring in more “guest” workers to do the “jobs Americans won’t do”. They’re waiting for the Chamber of Commerce to finish the draft before voting on it. My friend’s son would love to work as an engineer–it is what he went to school for, thinking it would be more practical than a liberal arts degree and that it would pay more than teaching. He never thought that he would be unable to get a job despite employers saying that not enough American kids are majoring in STEM. The only job he’s been able to get, and he just got it a few weeks ago, is a part-time job in a deli, where he says he’s losing IQ points every time he goes into work.

I’d like for Nick to be able to get the heads and hiring managers of companies and industries in a room, lock the door, and smack them silly.

By Dave
April 30, 2013 at 3:28 pm

@David Hunt and marybeth

A thought experiment:

Let us assume that H1B’s are a Good Thing(TM).

Why do we need more skilled workers in a time of high unemployment/underemployment? Unless you’re bringing in PHD’s from IIT and paying them 6 figures, isn’t the program pointless right now?

By marybeth
May 3, 2013 at 2:13 pm

@Dave and @David Hunt: re your thought experiment–you’re right, and it is just another example of cranial-rectal inversion. It is also about being as cheap as possible. They want highly skilled and highly educated workers for the lowest prices. If you can get two Indians for the price of one American, as per David’s two “suits”, then doing so drives down salaries, to the benefit of companies, but not to workers.

By David Hunt
May 3, 2013 at 3:51 pm


My late father, a Harvard Business School professor, once said that truly free trade is a transfer of wealth from the richer country to the poorer country.

Now, sooner or later, things will stabilize. Look at China – although still far, far less expensive than the US in many things (e.g., production) their wages are rising… so companies are looking at Vietnam and other SE Asian countries.

When those start rising, they’ll look elsewhere – Africa? (Though the corruption there makes Chicago look saintly.) Things will catch up, but how long will it take, and at what level will things stabilize?

By marybeth
May 6, 2013 at 6:25 pm

@David Hunt:

Your late father’s idea is a novel one, in this day and age of wealth transfers upward (to the already wealthy). I hope that he was right, and that you are right, and that things will stabilize, sooner rather than later. Countries with huge disparities between the wealthy and the poor, particularly those with no middle class and/or a minute middle class, tend to be very unstable. At some point, people decide that they have nothing to lose, and that is when revolutions (a bad case) occur. Governments can also fall, even without revolutions. At worst, you get events like the French and Russian revolutions, with the ruling classes executed and killed. To be merely banished, or have to flee like the deposed shah of Iran in 1979 (though that was a little different–not economics or war-driven) or Kaiser Wilhelm II at the end of World War I still created instability and political vacuums. Not good, either way…I’ve always thought it is better to have a large(r) middle class, to provide opportunities for jobs, careers, education, housing, and more. It doesn’t mean entitlement, but opportunities to better oneself and to provide for your family.

I, too, have read that some wages in China are rising, and as a result, companies are looking for even cheaper places…Bangladesh (where there was a collapse of clothing factory, killing over 600 people, but wages are the lowest of the low among the countries that make clothing and shoes, and there are no regulations, no safety standards. Shades of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, isn’t it?)

Employers have always sought the cheapest wages, but as you said, if wages rise everywhere, then at some point it has to become more costly to keep outsourcing manufacturing jobs.

The other issue here in the US is the cost of living. It isn’t cheap, so if wages continue to fall for workers, they won’t be able to afford the basics such as housing, food, utilities, let alone health care, education. My parents bought land and built a house (1500 square feet) in 1969 for $30,000. That same house (no additions, just basic maintenance was done) is now valued at $550,000. My father has already sold off some of the property, so there’s less “yard” than there was when he purchased the land 44 years ago. Both my brother and I have more education (we were lucky enough to be able to go to college–not the typical go away/live on campus for 4 years experience–and both of us have earned more than our father, yet neither one of us can afford to buy the house we grew up in. It is priced way out of our incomes in a generation. So while wages did increase a bit, they started falling while costs of living went up. And that’s the challenge today, here in the US. Lower wages are fine provided that the cost of living goes down too, but that hasn’t happened.

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By Francois
August 15, 2013 at 11:53 pm

HR keeps finding creative methods of getting in the way. Here’s a new one: if your previous salary was lower than market then apparently you’re damaged goods because you should’ve been able to get a job for more money. Honest to God. That one knocked me out of the running at a large silicon vendor, where I was exactly the trouble they were looking for, when the HR guy refused to go any further until I coughed it up. That was the last I head of them. Six months later my contact told them “If you’d hired Francois when he interviewed, your project would be finished by now.” “Yeah, we know.”

To this day I haven’t figured out what value these HR shenanigans bring to any company. It’s a mystery.

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By Bill Lang
March 24, 2014 at 2:18 am

What a great set of competing views. Where we see HR and Line managers working best together, as a joint team, we see each tribe having the same level’s of accountability for performance. Critically, they all rate eachother through 360 degree feedback and they have a believable/transparent/well followed process for giving/receiving/jointly learning from feedback. Earlier poster’s identified HR with 360’s or performance fedback on themselves as a bedrock to building a “performance reputation” inside their organisations. I agree. Having been across feedback on HR and Line Management over the years the process is critical. Here”s what we have learned in terms of the steps to gain greater self-ad joint-awareness through 360 degree feedback. http://www.fullcirclefeedback.com.au/resources/360-degree-feedback/feedback-that-has-impact/

By Savit Vajpayee
April 15, 2014 at 4:22 am

Yesterday I got a rejection call from the manager for a job that was suppose to be my dream job. I worked hard for it and did excellent on all my interviews. Managers liked me. But he sounded hapless on the phone as he mentioned it was HRs decision and they can do nothing about it. They wanted me to work for 36 months without sponsorship, but my OPT allowed 29. Hence they didn’t hire me. What a shame, for my passion for that job was extraordinary.

By David Hunt
April 15, 2014 at 12:43 pm

@Marybeth: I fear we are facing a situation where the drain of jobs from the US to other countries is going to reach a “breaking point” of the patience of a majority of people. What happens after that, G-d knows. But it won’t be pretty…

@Francois: You have GOT to be kidding me. I am becoming more and more convinced that everyone working needs to lose their jobs – if only to inculcate into them a sense of empathy.

@Savit: So you could work the majority of the time, and who knows what might happen in 2 years… but no, they don’t want you? This is madness and a sign that the insane are in charge of the asylum.

By Anonymous
May 5, 2014 at 2:18 pm

I had a phone interview with a large mining company’s HR representative a few months ago for a geologist position that i was fully qualified for. Asked me the usual stupid questions about what do i like and dislike about being a geologist. She had zero technical understanding so i’m sure anything i mentioned in that regard went over her head. I thought the interview went alright until i mentioned that i was taking an advanced part time course at a University which i was confident would benefit the company once i completed it at my own expense. Also mentioned that the couple weeks that it would take could easily be scheduled around. She ensured that the company supported professional development such as this but aparently not.
Never heard anything back. Another position was advertised a few weeks later so i wrote back to say that i guess i didn’t get the last one so i’d like to apply for this position as i’m even more qualified for it and a friend of mine was working at the site. Didn’t even get an email reply.
All this experience has accomplished is that i will never apply for a position with this company again and i am half tempted to write a letter to senior management letting them know how poorly it reflects on their company.

By David Hunt
May 5, 2014 at 3:41 pm

@Anonymous: You SHOULD write to the President of the company. If it’s a publically-traded company I recommend finding out who the board members are and CC them on the letter as well.

Tell them that while you understand that you’re not going to get every job for which you apply, the treatment you received in being rejected is being echoed through the professional community… and WILL damage their brand as an employer.

By Jurassic Park Hiring | David Hunt, PE
July 15, 2014 at 9:56 am

[…] a comment on a blog article by Nick Corcodilos echoes this situation (emphasis […]

By Some guy
August 15, 2014 at 10:44 pm


I’m no management guru, but, everyone should read this article

Why We Hate HR

By David Hunt
August 31, 2014 at 10:15 am

I went to the “Why We Hate HR” article; skimmed it. Very astute and perceptive.

There was, though, a section “Stupid HR Tricks” that reminded me of two incidents related to me.

The first, told to me by a person I know personally, was an incident when they were a floor supervisor. After a dispute with one of the hourly people, a union committeeman confronted my friend. In front of witnesses, including an HR representative, this committeeman told my friend he would “kick his ass” outside after work. What happened? Nothing. (Another incident at the same place, told N-th hand, was that another floor supervisor was knocked to the floor by an hourly employee – again with witnesses; again, nothing happened.)

Another incident related by an internet contact was of how they had had a pellet gun pointed at them – straight at their face. He complained to HR, who (as I recall) wrote nothing down. A few days later their cubicle was riddled with pellet holes. And everyone around this person was, apparently, amused. No action from HR, of course.

This is not to disparage all HR people; in the one incident where I was harassed, action was taken, first by my supervisor to whom I complained, and then by HR who ended up firing the person in question.

But it’s clear from multiple experiences and stories – both personal and related and read – that HR is a VERY political animal; it does morale and retention NO GOOD when one sees that “some animals are more equal than others”.

By jimbo_jones
September 5, 2014 at 5:48 pm

Good article. The author nails the issue.

Here is the problem: There are people who can do something, and people who can’t do anything. The former graduate in the sciences or tough humanities subjects like history, language, or philosophy.

The latter graduate in Education, Psychology, Gender Studies, and so on, and end up teaching primary or middle school and in HR departments.

The catch being that a person who knows “Education” doesn’t know anything. A person teaching mathematics should know mathematics, not “education.” A person teaching French should know – yes – French, not “education.”
And likewise, a person hiring engineers should know engineering, and a person hiring statisticians (“analysts”) should know statistics.
I mean imagine an HR person hiring a computer programmer. The computer programmer’s resume contains the following section: SAS, PHP, SQL, Perl, C++, C, Python, Linux, etc etc. The HR person has no idea what any of these things are. How can the HR person make a reasonable evaluation of the candidate’s qualifications? She can’t.

The reality is that there are a lot of people out there who come from a nice middle-class background, want a nice comfortable job with a nice comfortable salary, and who can do absolutely nothing useful such as writing code, lifting heavy weights, fixing appliances, writing reports on technical issues, and so on. And these people have colonized the HR departments, the educational system, and various other such territories, and are sucking dry the lifeblood of the national economy like a massive smiling parasite.
Here’s another infested realm: Social Services & Counseling. Complete and utter bunkum the whole thing. Also university administration.

By Joe
October 1, 2014 at 4:50 am

I’m sure there are great and fantastic individuals who work in HR; I’ve just never met anyone like that. In over 3 decades of successfully working around the globe, I’ve had to deal with a large volume of incompetent and inept HR “professionals”. Of the best and most talented employees I ever worked with or met; none were discovered or hired through HR.

By Ask The Headhunter® | Nick Corcodilos – HR Pornography: Interview videos
October 13, 2014 at 9:56 pm

[…] Your wife did the right thing. Is it worth letting top management know what’s going on down in HR’s playroom? If HR is busy playing digital spin-the-bottle, HR should get out of the hiring business. […]

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By Ask The Headhunter® | Nick Corcodilos – 600 Editions: The Best of Ask The Headhunter!
November 9, 2015 at 10:30 pm

[…] to go out of their way to block, stop, and abuse you. The best newsletter I wrote about this is Why HR should get out of the hiring business. I think some of my best advice about how to go around HR is from this edition of the newsletter: […]

By Alex
January 20, 2016 at 11:17 pm


HR has use in a company, but recruiting/hiring isn’t one of them. Look at how many badly-written job ads are out there, asking for applicants to know way more than they honestly need.

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