Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Attention Employers...

A very good executive once said to me 'The job of leadership is to get the right people on the right bus to the right destination.' The right people. If you don't have the right people looking for people, you're done right there. If they're not using all the resources at their disposal correctly to find those people, it's fail time again.

I'm writing this because over the past few years, I've heard quite a few comments about how there is a talent shortage. At the same time, I've been hearing from talented individuals that they can't find positions which utilize their talents; instead they wind up in positions that 'pay well', or 'have a good atmosphere'. When I combine those two observations with the first hand experience of technology being misused badly at the very start of an employee search, I begin to have an inkling of where the problem lies.

An example I have seen very frequently recently is the online manual resume breakdown. This would be where a potential employee uploads a resume (fine so far), fills out some standardized contact information (ought to be on the resume, but maybe it's not easily parsed) and then fills out more or less entire content of the resume, line by line, in an online form which often doesn't accept copy/paste from the resume itself.

The information is on the resume. If it's not, there's really no need to consider that applicant any further. If there's some questionable item, forcing them to retype the contents of the resume is not going to present the data any more clearly; they will probably retype the same data from the resume. Use some judgement as to whether the applicant has enough other qualities to bring them in for an interview or not, then move on. If the person reviewing the resumes has no ability to determine if the person is a good fit for the position by looking at a resume, why are they the one reviewing resumes in the first place?

There is a problem here. There are probably a plethora of causes, none of which matter. We're talking about business, and we're talking about something with a very simple solution, part technical, part operational.

First, the technical part. Instead of spending the IT budget on a number of web forms, spend it on a document converter and / or search tool. There are tools built into most OS's that will do either or both, but if you want a bit more speed, you might want something more specialized. The alternate would be to hire more technically capable people in the department that does first review of resumes, but that might not be possible or desirable depending on your field.

Second, the operational part. Have HR use the aforementioned tools to do simple keyword searches with a keyword list created by the new employee's future supervisor, coworkers, and direct reports. They probably know the job better than anyone else in the company, and can let the HR person know what to look for. Once the keyword searches narrow the field enough, send the resumes to those same groups. Expect some to be shot down. Call the remaining folks in for interviews, and make sure one of each of those groups previously mentioned is represented during the interviews. Give each group's input equal weight in the final decision.

I know that last sounds a bit odd; having prospective direct reports interview a potential supervisor. However, if someone is already a valued member of your team, it's important that the new person you're adding isn't going to be completely incompatible with them, no matter the relationship between the two. That's all part of the 'right people'. The direct reports can also tell you if the person they'll be reporting to is going to have any clue whether the prospect has enough technical expertise to tell if the employee is doing a good job or not.

Remember, right people is step one. Without it, you're opening a big can of fail. With that in mind, odd but workable solutions beat conventional but non-functional ones any day, hands down.

1 comment:

  1. In regards to the operational part - this is generally what I've encountered from both sides of the interview process.

    As a direct report, I've interviewed candidates that could potentially be my supervisor, providing impressions and feedback to the hiring person in my department and to HR. Ditto for coworkers.

    As a supervisor, I've made sure that HR schedules coworkers and direct reports to interview the candidate in addition to my opp to interview the person and then I've gathered the feedback for discussion with HR.

    On the other side of the process - every interview I've had, however formal or informal, has always included discussion with the hiring supervisor, minimum two potential coworkers and any direct reports. Usually my interviews also include the VP of the department if that is not the hiring supervisor and I've been interviewed by the CEO on a couple of occassions as well. I would add to your presented solution that if the position could be considered somewhat senior level, not only the hiring supervisor, coworkers and direct reports be included, but at least one of the supervisors up the chain of command interview as well.

    The operational part that you propose has been, for quite some time now, the approach for any position in my field. It's not all that odd or unconventional. As far as I've seen, it also has a decent success - so in that aspect, I agree with you too. :)