With few exceptions, hiring managers at mid to large-sized American organizations offer job seekers but one port-of-entry: buggy, unwieldy applicant tracking systems (AKA "talent management systems"), which pitiable job seekers must wrestle online. Under this paradigm, literal and figurative HR robots judge applicants based on experiential demands with little regard to the applicants' potential to add value to their organizations' bottom lines. Lou Adler, entrepreneur and best-selling author, summarized this disconnect 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 based on successes. Nor can HR employees, who have little--or no--expertise in the jobs they're tasked to hire for. Clearly, organizational leaders should spearhead searches for candidates in their fields of expertise. But, tragically, a great many talented candidates are stonewalled before they even get a chance to make their cases to a decision maker. Consider the following infuriating anecdote from Yahoo! Finance:
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.Instead of forcing talented applicants to contend with ridiculousness such as this, hiring managers should take the lead in determining which applicants could best add value to their organizations. Literal and figurative HR robots can never replace the judgement of organizational leaders, no matter how well-"programmed" those robots are. Not surprisingly, the current ATS-centric American hiring paradigm has a failure rate of up to 50%, according to ERE Recruiting Intelligence, a prominent HR industry analyst.
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.