Or are expectations just out of whack?
The great Mitch Sullivan dropped this comment last week:
(I was originally going to nerd out and write about the cost of external vs internal hiring as it relates to efficient market theory, but I’ll spare you for now. For today’s purposes they’re the same: sh*t gets more expensive no matter how you do it.)
A universal truth to anything in life: Expectations set your baseline beliefs. Sometimes reality smashes them to bits. And mental conflict ensues.
Let’s address Mitch’s first bit. Why do people think hiring should be easy?
Because referral hiring is. Up to a point. And then it’s not.
And that’s where everyone starts. When you’re building something new (a company or a team), the easiest (and cheapest) path to hire is people you already know. The ones you’ve worked with before and know they can do the job.
👉More importantly: The ones who will answer your calls. And let you sell to them.
That’s the part of referral hiring that is often misunderstood. Your network means nothing if you’re a jerk and no one likes you. Simply knowing people (or having a list of people) is meaningless.
It’s the people who respect you (or at least someone else at your company) who are willing to hear you out.
👉You have absolutely hired people who would have said no if you weren’t…you.
With those people, it wasn’t the company. Or the vision. Or even an A+ pitch.
It was your personal capital. You believe in the company and they believe in you. That’s how referral hiring actually works.
Until you run out of network and everyone you interview is a stranger. No matter who you are and how great the position is, that bit of ‘edge’ is gone.
And that’s hiring managers and execs don’t always realize. Without that edge, things just got harder. You don’t get as many “easy yeses.”
Which, as Mitch puts it, is baffling.
And it happens at the exact same time companies need to build internal recruitment or use an agency.
Expectation: If we simply get more candidates this will continue to be easy.
Reality: Those candidates have other options. You’re now on equal footing. And it’s hard.
Or worse, you have a negative edge. Because candidates know people *somewhere else*. Those companies are in your old spot. They get the “easy yeses” now.
You have to level up every aspect of your recruitment and ‘selling’ just to get back to even.
But you don’t always realize it, because it’s not your job.
More time. More effort. More skill.