Human Resources + Talent Evaluation = Oxymoron

Vantage Points Header Joel ElvesonThere is no question. HR is the backbone of just about every business without whom the company could not function. They are responsible for new hire orientation, benefits administration, employment verification, compliance, onboarding staffing vendors, and of course recruiting and interviews for which they along with their internal recruiters are the first line of contact.

Human Resources & Talent Evaluation are oxymorons meaning they are a conflict of terms. To further illustrate my point let me give you some well –known oxy morons such as military intelligence and business ethics. The two words do not fit together as they are conflicting terms with no connection to each other whatsoever.

Invariably a hiring manager from a department will saddle HR with a job opening that they need filled often in a very short time frame. The HR manager and their staff along with their staffing vendors must start bringing in candidates to be interviewed. That is where the process begins to break down as they can only make a determination if the candidate is the right fit for the position or not but when it comes down to the part of evaluating the talent level of the candidate they are ill-equipped to do that.

Arguably talent is a very vague concept when to comes to hiring. What characteristics define talent in the overall scheme of things? Who in HR ultimately decides who is a talent and who is not? A seemingly talented (we still don’t know what is meant by that word) and skilled candidate is passed along to the hiring manager for their decision based on the findings of HR if they want to meet this candidate or not. In the instances that they (the hiring manager) does meet with the candidate very often their feedback to HR will be negative as this person is not what they are looking for and is nowhere close to being a talent in their eyes. When a more specific criteria of the type of candidate that is being sought in terms of experience and skill set it is not uncommon for a response to be given along the lines of “when I see somebody I like I will let you know” or the entire specs (requirements) of the position will change to the point HR must now look for a radically different candidate than they were originally looking for. That leads to passing the confusion over to the internal recruiters and to the staffing vendors assigned to this job order. Many HR Managers are able to work around this potential problem by implementing human resources management software.

Not being able to recognize talent if that person fell into their laps they now must find somebody else using a different search criteria. One way or another through one source or another the top talent in the field they are recruiting for must be found. They are back to square one in that there is no way to gauge if these people are indeed talents who will fit the needs and wants of the person who will make the final decision as to who they hire.

One solution to this problem is via the use of various personality tests along with focusing on the differences in each candidate. There will always be a couple who stand out from the others not only due to their background but because they seem to have a certain aura about them that makes them stick out. That is usually a sign of a talent. That person instinctively knows how to perform when the lights on the stage (the interview ) go up.

Given that there should be little difficulty in the talent evaluation process. Should be and able to are also prime examples of oxy morons in the same vein as Human Resources. They are human and have resources but combining the two into one functional department is another thing.

The plain fact of the matter is that HR people are administrators who handle that aspect of their job quite well. If &/or when you saddle them with getting them involved in recruiting which technically is a typical HR function few can get it right usually because their day carries many tasks they must complete not to mention “putting out fires” the stress level is too high to be able to focus on so-called talent evaluation.

Along with the solutions mentioned above a good idea is to have a “talent scout” on staff. That person’s main responsibility is to not only evaluate skill and alike but is also able to pick-out those they sense are talent. Recruiters recruit but a person who can not only recruit but guide their external staffing vendors as well is the person who should run that part of the “show.”

Eliminate the Human Resources & Talent evaluation oxymoron by following protocols along the lines that I suggested whereupon they can better convince the decision maker they can find the candidate that is being sought even when the nature of the job changes. It can be that simple or that hard.


Joel Elveson
Joel Elveson
INDEPENDENT Executive Recruiting By Joel is an "up and coming" Executive Search Firm formed and headed up by Joel Elveson whose visionary ideas, leadership & creativity have brought to life a more "user-friendly" approach to recruiting. His clients and candidates form powerful strategic partnerships that we use to help you. Joel’s Firm offers Permanent, Temporary (case by case), & Temporary To Permanent staffing solutions for all of your Human Capital Requirements. Contract IT/Consultants are available if needed. Above and beyond they are experts (by way of their personal industry work experience) with mortgage, mortgage banking, middle-market banking, accounting, along with many others under the vast financial spectrum of disciplines. Their business goes beyond candidate recruiting as they also train, mentor and develop your internal recruiting staff with an eye towards helping you reduce the cost of hiring. They will also work in areas such as compensation, effective onboarding processes and alike. In other words, their business is to help your business by becoming an extension of you by filling in gaps that cause delay or waste. The recruiting methods employed by Joel’s team are time tested that results in a high rate of successful placements. Joel was trained in the art of recruiting by some of the top staffing industry executives in addition to the best recruiter trainers who to this day drive me to exceed the lofty goals he has set forth.

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    • Larry,
      Having you as a friend (although we have yet to meet or speak) is to me a great gift. I have no doubt of your ability to develop and find talent which is a task many find daunting. In a way that was a good thing as it opened doors for a recruiter such as myself. Somedays I find myself missing those days while other days I feel relieved that they are over. Many thanks for comments on my article that I had long since forgotten about.