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Never Go Shopping When You’re Hungry: The Perils Of ‘Impulse Buying’ When Recruiting


Here’s a recent newspaper article about impulse buying. They say you should never go shopping when you’re hungry. You get too much of the wrong stuff that you don’t need that does you harm and that you’ll regret. It’s the same with recruitment. I mean metaphorically hungry though, of course. Mind you, it’s probably not good to recruit when literally hungry either. Who knows what lowered blood sugar levels will do to your concentration as you stare at, and steer through, the dross, irrelevance and incomprehensibility on many applicants’ CVs?

The inherent problem is that many bosses recruit precisely when they have a vacancy. Of course, duh! BUT that is when they’re experiencing all the downside of having that vacancy – extra workload, inconvenience, lowered morale of those who remain and are doing that extra work, the ramifications if there were negative circumstances surrounding the departure of the previous incumbent, etc. So often, too often, there is a disproportionate drive to ‘get the vacancy filled.’ That’s totally natural, totally understandable and definitely something a brain-based boss would be mindful to manage. Clearly if the maths says that there should be more people to do the work, you need to recruit, but that is quite different from simply filling a vacancy via automatic replacement. Vacancies are always going to arise and workplace leaders should always have a part of their time allocated to thinking about the ‘what-ifs.’

Vacancies present a chance to re-evaluate the team’s set-up. Does it need to be filled at all? Should / can that role be changed? Should / can other roles be changed? Could others step up and a lesser role be back-filled? Yes, there is a cost to being a person down, but there is a greater and longer-term cost in recruiting with reckless pace and haste and getting it wrong or missing out on team enhancement opportunities.

If you do go shopping when you’re hungry, remember, beggars can’t be choosers. (Thank you ‘2-for-1 cliche sale!’)

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