Sunday, May 5, 2013

The American Hiring Paradigm Is Broken

Seth Mason Charleston SC blog 20Central 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 vectors of the nation's continued economic malaise. The American hiring paradigm is also to blame.

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, 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. Clearly, organizational leaders should spearhead searches for candidates in their fields of expertise. 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 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.

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.
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. Robots can never replace the judgement of organizational leaders, no matter how "well-programmed" they 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.

Friday, May 3, 2013

April Employment Increase: Nothing But Menial Jobs

Seth Mason Charleston SC blog 21Readers of this blog know that Washington's employment data should be scrutinized. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is notorious for crushing down the labor force participation rate in order to make it appear that the unemployment rate is falling, and the agency's survey methodology is fundamentally-flawed, according to a former BLS leader. But, even if you take the government's word on unemployment as the "Gospel truth", a 50,000-150,000 monthly net increase in jobs--as Uncle Sam has been reporting for years--is woefully insufficient. At this rate of increase--with the unemployment rate dropping by a tenth of a percent each month--, it would take until 2017 to get back to the lower end of the "full employment" range. And that's IF the economy has no additional difficulties and WITH the help of a crushed-down labor participation rate. And, that's if you consider 5% unemployment and 10% underemployment "full employment".

But the raw jobs numbers don't tell the full story anyway. What does it matter if 50,000 or 150,000 or even 1,000,000 jobs are created each month if the jobs are menial in nature? And make no mistake: we've been seeing for years little but a monthly increase in low-wage, low-skill jobs. The April jobs report showed more of the same.

The overwhelming majority of jobs created last month were in leisure and hospitality (waiters, bartenders, hotel employees, etc.) and temp jobs. Industries that actually produce something, whether it be information or physical goods, actually lost jobs:

April Employment Increase: Nothing But Menial Jobs - Jobs By Industry

There was a net decrease in jobs for Americans of prime working age, i.e. there was a net decrease in "career" jobs. But there was a net increase in jobs for Americans of prime restaurant worker and Walmart greeter ages:

April Employment Increase: Nothing But Menial Jobs - Jobs By Age Group

In fact, the number of jobs for Americans of prime working age (i.e. career age) has been flat since the economy collapsed:

April Employment Increase: Nothing But Menial Jobs - Retirees Remaining In The Workforce

Seth Mason, Charleston SC