The empty promise of hiring

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Let me try and set this up.

When you go into an advanced education setting, the general promise or equation therein is “You will spend money, but you will get new knowledge that will make you more attractive to the job market.”

Now, you can argue with that statement and say the end goal is NOT the job market, and maybe you’re right. Maybe people just want to learn data analytics to, well, learn data analytics. But by and large the idea is to make yourself more employer-friendly, if we’re being real. No one goes into debt with no promise on the back-end, in the most general terms.

But then what happens a lot when you get that new degree or that new knowledge?

Those who can hire you only want to know the bullet points you’ve already, exactly done.

Seems like you just got sold a raw bag of onions.

My story on this

I went to graduate school in 2012 for organizational development. Broadly-speaking, it was a terrible idea.

I think about how dumb it was all the time. I was 32 or so, and I surrounded myself with 22–23 year-olds, which was a challenge. I had mostly worked in writing and marketing beforehand, and now I was trying to essentially do HR, and every time I had an interview, some interviewer was like “OK, well, you’re in this program, buuuuut….”

It was all kind of a mess. They wanted to know I had done specific stuff before. I had not. If I was 22, and fresh out of school, maybe it would have mattered less — because they subsequently could have paid me less. But because I’m older and getting a Masters, they are like “Oh, we gotta pay this dude but he isn’t hitting bullet points? Fuck this!”

I ended up moving to Texas for … a marketing job.

Probably could have done that without the thousands in debt, but again, it’s my stupidity. It’s on me.

The bigger point here

Forget my story, because you probably don’t care. The bigger point here is this →

  1. We say that “critical thinking” and “adaptability” and “knowledge-gaining” and even “curiosity” matter.
  2. In reality, we hire based on a checklist of what the person has already done.

A money quote

From an article called “Hire for skills, not talent:”

So the next time you’re filling a job, shift how you evaluate applicants.

Lucas explains, “We need to not only look at ‘Does this person already know how to do something?’ but ‘Can she learn it’?”

Yep. Who really cares about “already know” when the whole promise of education is “can learn and adapt?” That’s why you went into debt, for chrissakes! To prove that investment!

The next elephant in the room

How do you measure for “can he/she learn something?”

This is a tough one. The most obvious answers are →

  • Ask them about past experiences where they had to learn something
  • Give them a completely random topic and see what they can present back to you
  • Quizzes or assessments

Here are the problems →

  • The candidates will lie.
  • Most organizations would never do this because they’re too concerned with immediate task work and whether you can “hit the ground running”
  • Eh, generic.

Now factor into time-to-hire. A lot of recruiters and HR types are under the gun from decision-makers and the only way they know to prove their worth is to say, “Well, we turned around this hire fast, boss!” But understanding a candidate takes time. You need to invest. Unfortunately, we don’t often do that. We get caught in “sense of urgency” stuff, as with most biz units. It’s not easy.

Remember → a lot of recruiting processes alienate the best people. They don’t attempt to get the best people. This would be wholly accurate.

How else could we hire?

Off of skills and curiosity, not bulleted lists. Admittedly, though, this is hard and takes people out of their pre-existing comfort zone. Most people don’t want that, and hiring is largely a box-check and not a strategic advantage. Don’t believe me? Then why does it reside in HR and not business development? Hahaha.

Alright, have a good rest of the week y’all … and riddle me this. Why are we still hiring the way we do? Just laziness?

Written by

Blogging, largely about work and how to improve it. How I make (some) money: http://thecontextofthings.com/hire-freelance-writer-ted-bauer/

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