Sunday, May 5, 2013

The American Hiring Paradigm Is Broken

The American Hiring Paradigm Is BrokenCentral banking has made a mess of the economy, and increasingly onerous jobs-killing federal legislation has impeded hiring and thus has impeded economic recovery. But the Fed and Washington aren't the only culprits in the nation's continued economic malaise. The American hiring paradigm is also to blame.

With few exceptions, American companies offer job seekers but one port-of-entry: buggy applicant tracking systems (AKA "talent management systems") that HR departments use to conduct keyword searches. Under this paradigm, candidates are judged on experiential demands without regard to their potential to add value to the bottom line. Lou Adler, entrepreneur and best-selling author, best summarized this phenomenon in an article he recently published on LinkedIn:
“Successful candidate will develop a new approach for reducing water usage by 50%,” is a lot better than saying “Must have 5-10 years of environmental engineering background including 3-5 years of wastewater management."
Correct. But ATSes can't judge applicants' successes. They can only find keywords. (When they work properly.) American company leaders should therefore play a greater part in the hiring process. Far too often, candidates with great potential don't even get to speak with a hiring manager. Consider the following anecdote:
I'm a technical Product Manager. I've launched about ten big products. This is all I do. I work for technology companies. I got laid off in September, and I applied for a job online yesterday afternoon.
Last night at ten p.m. I received an auto-responder message back from the employer. It said that I wasn't chosen to move forward for the product manager job I had applied for. I was surprised, but those things happen. The auto-responder message said that I'd be notified of any other job openings that are a closer fit to my background.

I got another auto-responder message from the same company early this morning. They sent me another job opening. Guess what kind of job it was? It was a food service job in their company lunchroom.

The recruiter who had the product manager opening on her desk told me why I'd been rejected by the company's careers website. She told me that she gets so many unsuitable resumes through the company careers portal that she set the parameters to Reject All Resumes. Every single person who applies through the site the way I did gets a no-thanks message. Because the company's job-posting system asks for a default -- they require the recruiter to direct those rejected applicants somewhere, that is -- she set it up to send every rejected person all the new job openings that are posted for any job in the company. That's why I got the food service job.
Wow. Instead of forcing talented applicants to wrestle with ridiculousness such as this, hiring managers should take the lead in determining which applicants could best add value to their companies. Clearly, keyword searches and online psychological exams can't do that. In fact, the current American hiring paradigm has a failure rate of up to 50%.

1 comment:

  1. Even worse than those experiential demands is the rampant credentialism. At least by seeking out experienced folk, an employer is looking for real-world track records of accomplishment, but most of today's Western academe brings new meaning to the phrase 'ivory tower'.

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