As children, parents, lovers, friends and employees we engage, learn compromise, encourage, accomplish the benchmarks of life, provide value and, in return, are compensated for our efforts in many different ways. Having recently decided to leave behind authorship and entrepreneurship (and all the solitary nature, long hours, and black hole financial nature entailed) to seek employment again, it is a wonder to me how much has changed in the relationship part of the application and hiring process.
I have listened to friends lament their frustration with ‘business intelligence’ software that is (theoretically) supposed to cherry pick the best candidates from amongst those who are submitting their credentials for a vacancy. Business intelligence software is failing the hiring process, jobs are going unfilled and company reputations are being negatively impacted as a result. (Strong employer branding works in tandem with corporate communications but the underlying systems still need to function properly.) Some estimates in the United States cite that recruiters and human resources talent managers average a mere 15 seconds per CV for their review; is it any wonder that highly qualified candidates are still unemployed after two years of rigorously applying and interviewing?
More than a year and a half ago a dear friend applied for a senior level position with Mary Kay Cosmetics. S/he was (eventually) shortlisted and a year after initially applying flew to their Dallas headquarters to interview in person. Six months later – nothing; no one has been hired for the role and not even a blind email distribution communication has been sent, that ‘used to be’ considered rude, today it earns a Twitter #fail.
I just started applying for similar positions in Scandinavia – my experiences to date could not be more different. For two of the three positions I have applied for in the last fortnight (incredibly) the hiring managers’ name, email and direct phone number (sometimes with hours of availability) have been included in the job description. One hates to be a ‘bother’ and so for one position I didn’t actually reach out to the woman for fear of seeming a ‘pushy American’ and, with regret, this morning discovered that the company (in less than a week) has already identified their perfect candidate! Whoa. Might a different outcome been realized had only I reached out when the opportunity presented itself? Yesterday I rose at 3AM EST to grab a shower, have a small breakfast and call the hiring manager at the other company which had provided these details. If I had any expectation it was that I might be given between 10 and 20 minutes of his time – I found myself both apologizing and expressing my gratitude for his goodwill in realizing that we had been chatting for over 45 minutes. This, I should say, was not even an interview! Yes, I certainly believe it was a fact finding mission on both our parts. More importantly, because of his generosity and sincere enthusiasm for his employer I came to recognise that I would be delighted to have this man as my boss as well as work for this company whose culture was made so appealing.
Let’s assume for a moment that some level of discernment is being applied when an individual submits their credentials for consideration; that they are actually at least 85% qualified for the role and the remainder is within our capacity to ‘scale’. Just as our chemical receptors signal synergy with a potential mate because of our pheromones the hiring process requires a dialogue between two people. Our human-ness allows for sowing the seeds of a working relationship that will ‘get things done’ as well as be pleasant. Much as engineers are invaluable to our society I come to doubt the improved efficiencies offered by their ‘coding’ (in this case SEO SaaS) are the answer when so much about working together depends upon the nuance of asking a question, engaged listening, (not) taking another call, (not) texting in the midst of a conversation or in uttering a sigh – in other words, finding mutual respect and building on it. Instead of innovation, maybe corporate America should consider disrupting the hiring process by re-engaging the ‘human’ to human resources functions.