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Shift resources away from selection to ensure recruitment success

Recruitment will always be hit or miss. Reliable prediction is impossible. Further focus on perfecting selection is a case of diminishing returns. Organisations should concentrate instead on helping recruits succeed in their new role through intense support over their first 100 days.

This reinvention of onboarding as 'springboarding' can have a fantastic return on investment (ROI).

When it comes to recruitment, we invest in choosing the perfect candidate, only then to leave them to sink or swim once they start. Too often it is forgotten that the real work in helping a new employee succeed starts only after they have joined the organisation.

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Organisations should actively address uncertainty

Interviews, the most commonly used selection tool, have weak predictive validity, despite efforts to structure them. Cognitive tests, that do predict performance, help but use is often resisted. Perfect candidate selection is forever uncertain. 

Strangely, organisations rarely address this uncertainty. Key stakeholders have met the candidates and given their thumbs up to the selected recruit. But a vote of confidence is not enough. Organisations need to invest more in helping their imperfect recruits maximise their contribution in new roles.  


Today’s onboarding is good but not enough

HR has begun to focus on onboarding, with onboarding conferences one of the biggest events in the HR calendar. Many larger organisations now have someone responsible for onboarding. Candidate engagement is boosted through information, some training and smooth management of the practicalities such as obtaining a computer. 

But reality is bleak, especially for managers. Research says that up to 40% underperform or leave new roles within 18 months because ‘it didn’t work out’.

Around 70% report that when they started in a new job, they felt they were on their own. We don’t yet know if the recent focus on onboarding has made a dent in these numbers.

Given the poor predictive quality of selection methods and the limited scope of onboarding as it is defined today, organisations need new answers.


The key is to turn the first 100 days into a project

By framing the first 100 days as a project, during which each recruit is expected to have established themselves by building relationships and delivering value, organisations can encourage recruits to be as active as possible. More active recruits, logically speaking, have a greater chance of success. 

Each recruit’s project can be made up of five phases:


Before starting


Preparing before starting the role, having initial ideas about targets, context and network, increasing the chances of making a strong first impression


Days 1-14


Positioning when meeting colleagues for the first time, who to meet first and what to say, making a strong first impression in practice


Days 14-45


Uniting with colleagues, building relationships with the colleagues that will support the recruit’s success


Days 45-70


Delivering the early results that prove, both for the recruit and their colleagues, that the recruit is right for the role


Days 70-100


Expanding horizons, thinking through what to achieve over a longer period

The organisation can develop tools to support each recruit in each phase, and ensure the recruit discusses their progress with their line manager at the end of each phase.

The phases focus on job content and results, going far beyond today’s approach to onboarding. To make the difference clear it is useful to introduce a new term – springboarding.

Springboarding can, for managers, give a return on investment of up to 170-times greater. The conclusion should be clear: introduce springboarding.


Richard Taylor is vice president, recruiting & onboarding at Freyr