As a perennial job seeker, I frequently respond to job posts. I've noticed that--with the exception of small numbers of listings posted by entrepreneurs--listings by American companies almost always outline desired amounts of applicant experience as opposed to what's far more important: congruence with company goals. 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."Indeed. Before the economy crashed, I was able to grow a local Spanish-language newspaper into a regional Spanish-language entertainment magazine published throughout 2 states. My company enjoyed such robust growth primarily because I staffed it with great people who contributed to specific company goals. I found these great employees not by seeking applicants with X years of experience in Y roles, but rather by seeking applicants who made the best case that they could contribute to the objectives I outlined. With this approach to talent acquisition, sifting through resumes was easy: I just looked for accomplishments.
As both an employer and a job-seeker, I can say with certainty that the common American approach to talent acquisition--valuing years of experience over capability--creates tremendous opportunity costs for the company, and therefore retards economic recovery. (This is evidenced by the automatic rejection of the long-term unemployed.) This unfortunate approach to hiring is almost certainly a function of the increasing trend of management delegating the all-important task of staffing to people who are not only far disconnected from the development of company goals, but aren't businesspeople at all. These people--call them recruiters or HR professionals or whatever you wish--use years of experience as a baseline for applicant value because they have little frame of reference as to who could best contribute to company goals. And they can never have this frame of reference because 1) they aren't part of the company goal-setting process and, 2) even if they were included in such discussions, they often lack the unique attributes and personality of a business leader. As Adler puts it, "only a thinker can determine what to look for in a thinker."
The solution to this problem is simple: American company leaders should play a greater part in the hiring process. This begins with creating jobs listings outlining specific company goals and ends with taking the lead in determining which applicant(s) could best contribute to achieving said goals.
Obviously, company leaders can't be tasked with filling low-level positions. But when it comes to filling positions that directly affect the company's bottom line, they should absolutely take charge.