The Future of Hiring

Hiring is broken. Actually, it’s always been broken, we just didn’t pay attention. The traditional system of sending and receiving thousands of resumés was never a model of efficiency. In their book “Rework”, the guys from 37 Signals explain what we all know about most applicants and their resumés:

“We all know resumés are a joke. They’re exaggerations. They’re too easy. Anyone can create a decent-enough resumé. That’s why half-assed applicants love them so much. They can shotgun out hundreds at a time to potential employers. It’s another form of spam. They don’t care about landing your job; they just care about landing any job. If you hire based on this garbage, you’re missing the point of what hiring is about. You want a specific candidate who cares specifically about your company, your products, your customers, and your job.”

The reason we didn’t notice that having resumés and recruiters plaguing the job market was a bad idea, is because we could afford it. It was fine to have that system 50, 20, even 5 years ago. Wasting was a part of life. We bought tons of crap, watched many hours of TV and got only the minimum education necessary to get a job. Each of those philosophies are based on one big assumption: we have plenty of resources to spare.

Well, reality has caught up with us. That lifestyle is no longer sustainable. In terms of hiring, paying a recruiter consistently to find someone who is always a gamble, is not an optimal way of allocating resources in our time. And there’s probably nothing more important for a business nowadays than an optimal allocation of resources.

In a fast-paced changing environment, resilience is king. Having the right systems and tools, lowering costs and improving productivity, these are the methods towards profitability that businesses are embracing now. In most cases, hiring is too expensive, because we’re doing it wrong.

The main problem with the traditional hiring system is that it places all the responsibility on the business. Job applicants are only sending some letters or emails, but it’s the businesses who are spending money trying to pick the right candidate. Expensive process, questionable ROI. We need a better way.

Originally, I was going to write about how to evaluate people without college degrees, but that’s the wrong question to ask. A better question would be: how are we going to evaluate ANYONE? Granted, there may be a very small group of fields of study where academic excellence leads to professional excellence, but it’s not representative. In most situations, a degree or a resumé don’t mean competence.

The solution is to balance the evaluation game. The person hiring shouldn’t be the only one judging competence. This is the fundamental shift that we need to go through: better self-assessment. As we become more empowered as consumers and learners because of the available technology, we also carry a bigger load of the responsibility. We have to stop thinking in terms of paychecks, and start thinking in terms of value creation.

This is my problem with all the protesters worldwide demanding for more and better jobs. They see jobs as rights, instead of ways to create value for businesses and society.

When we think in terms of value creation, the number of suitable jobs for each person drops dramatically, but the impact of the ones that remain increases. When we see look for where we can help the most, we find out the right jobs, and recruiters find the right employees.

The future of hiring is a two-way street recruitment. Job applicants, college degree or not, evaluate the businesses where they can have the biggest impact (whether those already exist or they have to create them), and then the MARKET evaluates if they are a good fit. Maybe it’s a recruiter, maybe it’s consumers, who will evaluate us is besides the point. What matters is that only what creates value gets accepted by society.

We need to embrace uncertainty, become entrepreneurs in everything we do, develop our skills consistently, and aim to create value. If we need to start a business or become freelancers, so be it. We need to step up to the challenge, and accept the burden that our ever-increasing standard of living has placed upon us.

Simply put, the future of hiring is one with more value, but less hiring.