Why Are Your Field Positions Open So Long?

By Chris O’Leary, Loss Prevention Recruiters
Published in LP Magazine Newsletter Nov 17, 2011

The term analysis paralysis comes to mind when thinking about the variety of retailers out there and the processes in place to hire field loss prevention executives. Most are not very efficient and the average position remains open way too long which of course causes remaining team members and additional resources to be utilized to pick up the slack until the open positions are filled. This can be very costly and stressful for your team members because they already have objectives to meet. You will also probably see an increase in shrink/losses that could have been prevented.
For an example let’s look at the district level manger position. Most retailers will run ads on the internet job boards and the hiring manager at the regional level might network in an attempt to identify viable candidates. Most of the potential candidates however will come from the internet because these are the candidates who are looking. This approach of course ignores the largest potential candidate pool and that is the passive candidates who are not actively looking. By not working with a qualified and reputable search firm partner you are typically only going to see those candidates who are looking from the internet.
Once potential candidates are identified then a human resources representative or recruiter will screen resumes and then conduct phone interviews with those candidates that are deemed viable for the position. If this goes well then the remaining candidates will be either phone interviewed or meet in person with the hiring manager. If these steps do not produce a candidate of interest then HR needs to find more potential candidates by re-evaluating previous applicants and waiting for more internet candidates to apply.

When it does go well the top 1-2 candidates will typically go to corporate for additional and perhaps final interviews with senior executives from LP, HR and Operations. There could also be psychological/aptitude assessments to go through as well. Now from a timeline standpoint to get to this point you are probably looking at 60-90 days into the process. If those steps go well then there could be a few more interviews with the local field level business partners from Operations and HR. Now we are definitely at 90 days into the process and probably about 8 interviews.

Let’s say that an offer will not be made because there was not a unanimous consensus to hire this person. Or that they are a ‘maybe’ but it is decided to look at additional candidates prior to making a final decision. Or an offer is extended but the candidate decides to turn it down and remain where they are and accept a counter offer. Or that they decide to stay because the offer was not what they were looking for. Or maybe they decide to accept an offer from another company because remember they are actively looking so chances are they have more than one iron in the fire. Now you are back to square one and have to start all over again! So it is not that surprising to see many field positions go unfilled over 90 days.
Remaining in control of your organization is important but at what cost? And I understand that it is important to be politically correct and bring other departments to the hiring table but really? How many from LP are invited to the table when other departments are hiring in the field? If you are then let me assure you that you are in the minority. So then why are the field hiring managers not making their own hiring decisions? They are after all responsible for millions of dollars in inventory/property, employee and customer safety but they do not make their own hiring decisions.
Why does corporate have to be that involved? Is it because that is the way it has always been? The more people involved in the process does not equate into the perfect hire. If that were the case then turnover ratios would be significantly lower. And taking the position that its part of the recruitment process by bringing candidates to Corporate in an attempt to impress them does not make much sense when compared to the cost and the time investment for everyone involved. Ever hear of Skype? It has been my experience that the more people involved in the hiring process then the less likely there will be a unanimous decision reached and less likely that positions are filled in a timely manner. You do have options to fill these positions more efficiently and empower your field leaders to do what should be one of their key functions in the process.

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