Implementing Traditional Service with Modern Technology
When I began recruiting (1987) there were no ‘job boards’ and few real ATS as we know them today. We posted some newspaper ads but primarily we called people. We kept hard copy resumes, filed them by skills. We called into companies and talked our way to the right departments. We had A SYSTEM and we worked that system – it had been around for decades and (successful) senior recruiters today still follow many of the same practices.
With the advent of Windows came a succession of Applicant Tracking Systems – designed to automate many of our tasks. We dutifully designed these systems to imitate our SYSTEMS without considering what worked and what didn’t. And we successfully automated all of our flaws. Search algorithms never really worked and still do not today. What we, and our clients did was become obsessed with buzz words, tasks, skill lists since this is what systems did and still need to effectively parse results.
Focus on the People not Entirely on the Resume
The System changed. Recruiting (corporate and agency) became a numbers game – Do what you can to collect as many RESUMES (not people!) as possible, rank or cull them somehow and toss the rest. We returned to ‘interviewing’ in a centuries old format – something Henry Ford developed! How long have you been in your job? Where do you work? What tasks/tools do you do/use? These are the WRONG questions – yet internal and external recruiters are convinced otherwise. It makes it impossible to distinguish between an excellent candidate and one less desirable. Buzz word resumes abound – task resumes abound. I do code behinds, use C# and MVC.
This method of classifying individuals, making them searchable and quantifiable has taken the humanity out of the recruitment process and promotes a disinterest in the more important qualitative aspect of your next colleague. This in turn has changed the very way we deal with ‘candidates’. A typical job-seeker experience consists of a call from a recruiter who knows little about a job nor the company – They know they need X years of X tool doing X tasks – but not what that person will really be accomplishing, what soft skills are needed. After this basic screening they agree to “submit” your resume. If the client is interested – GREAT – off to an interview. If not, it is unlikely this person will ever hear back from their web recruiter.
I typically ask my clients ‘why would someone wish to work here?’ and they are more often surprised (and occasionally offended). Similar objections or inability to ask more probing questions about the type of person they wish to work with, career path, employee development, etc.
How can we change this paradigm? It starts with a job description = Try adding ADJECTIVES. Not your typical ‘challenging’ or “fun” or “rock-star” please – write the description as if you’re explaining what this person does to your partner, or a date. Next – speak to people NOT candidates or resumes. Talk about what that person’s real desires are – don’t assume based on a piece of paper. Talk about their strengths and weaknesses. Talk to the hiring authority about what the person really is doing all day, what they need to accomplish and about who is capable of doing the job not necessarily who has already done exactly that…
It’s a start.