Recruiting new employees always presents certain challenges: There are too few. Some are too proud.
But as the recession begins to wane and companies start poaching recent college graduates, two authors say employers might want to consider stealing practices and priorities for the hiring process from the few, the proud -- the Marines.
Rod Walsh and Dan Carrison interviewed 147 Marine Corps personnel to write "Semper Fi: Business Leadership the Marine Corps Way," an Amacom publication that topped the best-seller list in Japan and led to successful careers in leadership consulting.
Despite the caricature of vein-bursting drill sergeants, Carrison said human resources were at the "top of the totem pole" in the Marine Corps.
But, "They're at the bottom of private enterprise," he said.
Rather than tap a subcontracted headhunter or worn-out employee to serve as a company recruiter, make like the Marines and pick the best of the best to identify like-minded recruits.
Then, the first introduction to the company is its top talent.
"When a candidate looks at the recruiter, he sees the real thing, and the recruiter is in a position to recognize people who are like him," said Carrison.
Walsh said the Marines have an "innocent until proven guilty" approach that allows almost anyone to join.
"They screen people in, not screen people out," he said.
The reason: faith in the training process.
Rather than raise the bar in the hopes of drawing only already qualified resumes, the Marine Corps relies "on the training, not the screening," said Carrison. "You often have an ugly-duckling-turning-into-a-swan scenario."
Once the employee is onboard, the authors said, employers can translate a couple of lessons from boot camp into the boardroom -- without requiring pushups.
"In the Marine Corps, you are cursed at for three months, you are treated as though you are hated, so when they finally call you a Marine three months later, it means something," said Carrison.
Forcing employees to go through an initial probationary stage could have the same result, creating a period of tension and doubt that's a "great motivator," he said.
Don't be afraid to turn the job into an honor.
"Why in private enterprise do we have to beg whiz kids off college campuses?" Carrison asked. "Why couldn't the corporate recruiter lean back in their desk, cross their arms and say, 'Do you have what it takes to join this organization?' "
Hint: It should be more than a hearty "hoorah."
(Reach Erich Schwartzel at eschwartzel(at)post-gazette.com.)
(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.scrippsnews.com.)
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