A recent post, Congress to Employers: You’re not proctologists, drew a comment that reveals the dangerous new cracks in our employment system — and hints at the problem employers need to address if the quality of hiring is to improve.
In a comment on that post, dated October 19, 2009 at 6:52 am, reader Nic says:
This to me is all about people fuelling their new crackpot ideas for business modelling and human resources; and in my view, it is all lunacy. What does this really mean? The quality of employee has declined drastically over the past 20 years. Does this mean a further dumbing down?
I don’t think the quality of the employee has declined. Rather, the quality of the selection process has declined. It has become so automated that it is now counterproductive.
The personal judgment of managers no longer filters the best job candidates into the final interview process. The first cut of candidates is made thoughtlessly using key word searches and is further dumbed down because the pool itself is limited to people who list themselves in data bases. Gone are the candidates a manager seeks out for their rare and relevant qualities.
The Human Resources Soup Kitchen waters down the quality of the hiring process by ladling resumes out of the huge job-board swill pot — and those are the candidates the hiring manager is permitted to choose from. That’s where the “talent shortage” starts. When your head is stuck in the swill pot, all the world is a mediocre candidate — and you always have an excuse for mediocre hiring: We use the latest technology but today’s candidates just suck!
I was recently on Minnesota Public Radio to discuss trends in job hunting and hiring and to take questions from listeners. Joining me was an executive from Monster.com.
A caller who runs a management consulting firm challenged Monster’s Doug Hardy over the “task matching” — or “keyword” — method of scanning resumes for matches to jobs.
Listen to the question and to Hardy’s response:
The consultant says that he advises his clients to
“generally avoid hiring anybody who has the full set of skills listed for a job. That’s usually a symptom of somebody who’s coasting, not somebody who’s aggressively trying to grow… The way the job boards work is skill-to-task matching… I want to get your response to that.”
Here’s what Hardy and Monster.com offer to hiring managers today:
“You are talking about the kind of data base management that was happending in job boards before… If you look at Monster now, it has much more associative types of search in it, especially the new beta search… we’re trying to go beyond exact word matching.”
Yah, well, bull dinky.
Monster and other job boards scan their data bases to match key words. The data bases are dumber than a magnet “searching” for iron filings. What Hardy doesn’t tell us is that Monster’s new data base algorithms don’t work any better than the old ones. Since 2001, Monster’s success rate — the percentage of hires that companies make using Monster’s data base — has not changed appreciably from about 3%. In fact, between 2008 and 2009, Monster’s success rate has dropped. The other big job boards have fared no better.
In 2008 Monster pumped $1.3 billion worth of the same old swill into HR departments that need to be called to task for wasting their investors’ money. One extremely frustrated HR vice president at a Fortune 50 company complains to me that, “The big job boards aggressively wine and dine our top executives, who sign up for yet another year. Virtually our entire recruiting budget goes into the job boards, with the result that I can’t get any money to spend on going out to actually recruit good people.”
To answer reader Nic’s question, the employment system is as dumb as ever and it’s getting worse because that same-old problem today has gargantuan implications. The shortage of capital that’s available for hiring means that hiring well is the single most important strategic advantage a company can develop. Companies cannot afford to hire lots of people in the hope of getting a handful who might actually make a difference to their business — like they used to do. The problem is not with the “talent” — it’s with the clucks doing the “recruiting” and hiring.
Whether they’re relying on a job-board data base, on their own data bases or on software that sorts and “selects” people to be interviewed, “the process” has become a pathetic excuse for actually finding, recruiting and hiring the workers a company wants and needs.
Human Resources departments spent over a billion dollars on one job board alone last year — Monster.com. HR is clearly to blame for wasting people’s time, their companies’ money and their companies’ futures. Even when HR relies on other sources of hires, the automation of recruiting and hiring has become so prevalent, and the arm’s-length candidate-review process has become so distant — using outsourced reference-checking services and “scientific tests” to judge candidates –, that hiring has become a dumb show in many companies.
The egg on corporate America’s face is this: Workers, job hunters and job candidates see what’s going on. They get it. They know your company is hiring stupidly.
As the consultant from Minneapolis points out, America’s employment system drives, at best, the hiring of people who are coasting. At worst, companies choose people who come along via a data base rather than the best people a manager takes time to go out and hire.