HBR-Recruiting In Good Times and Bad

From the May 2009 issue of the Harvard Business Review, The Definitive Guide to Recruiting in Good Times and Bad - HBR.org is an excellent article.
In addition to evaluating your new hires, try to find out what happened to the other internal and external finalists. Though it's hard to tell how the candidates who were not hired might have fared had they come on board, it's still instructive to see how well they're performing in their current roles relative to the candidate who got the job. Does this comparison give you confidence in your decision - or give you pause?
 But, stop and think. How many companies do this in reality? How many companies do this in any organized, diligent fashion? On an adhoc basis perhaps, but of all the candidates a company interviews and decides to not hire, does it really know how well or badly these candidates do afterwards? Sure we hear of anecdotal instances where a manager at a company remarks, "Remember the guy we interviewed a few years back and decided not to hire? Well, he is now running engineering at that hot start-up."

This is not as difficult as one may imagine now. The reason for that is the internet. And specifically, LinkedIn.com, the social networking site for professionals, that in 2010 is the defacto online resume portal used by everyone. People generally make it a point to keep it uptodate, with at least their latest job title and employer listed, if not more details. How difficult is it for a couple of people from a company's HR department to trawl through such a site every six months and update their database accordingly? Okay, so do not do it for every candidate you rejected. Do it for people interviewed only for a certain level and above. Like project manager, engineering manager, product manager, director, principal engineer, architect, whatever. Despite the plethora of job titles where there is no agreement on what exactly does one title at one company translate into at another company, there is some form of equivalence that one can arrive at. A person who is a senior engineer today and a senior manager five years later is surely doing something right.

This is a business problem that has a technological solution available. Yet the inertia of ineptness and the dogma of convention often overcomes any chance that innovation may have.

© 2009, Abhinav Agarwal. All rights reserved.