Human Resources (what a terrible term by the way) has not really changed that much in the last one hundred years – since its birth in the 19th century. However, what has changed even less is recruiting – at least on general level. Progress has happened. Many of us know – at least in theory – what modern recruiting looks like. However, majority of recruiting processes are still carried out almost just like they were one hundred years ago. Some might argue that this is not true. That everything has changed. And they’d be right – sort of.

Yes, there are modern tools, fancy new platforms, CV munching robots, HR systems and the Social Media that have changed recruiting forever. Yet, recruiting hasn’t really changed at all. Most recruiting processes still follow the post-and-pray methodology. The medium has changed but underlying practise is still the same. Impossible wish lists are made. Open position is advertised. Applications are received. Resumes are read. People are grilled …eh… interviewed. People are grilled …eh… interviewed again. Decisions are made. Person is hired. Effective, huh? It has to be, because that is how it has always been done (The Five Monkeys). Maybe the most inhibiting phrase ever. The same old thinking always leads to the same old results.

Let us investigate this further by dividing the”normal” recruiting process into three elements.

1. The job description or “the specs” are what the employer (often the hiring manager, HR) has determined that the person has to fulfil in order to be able to succeed in the position. A sort of checklist of required qualifications. However, in reality it is nothing more than an unrealistic wish list of an imaginary person that will never be found.

So, why do we still insist of hiring skills-lists when in fact we should be hiring attitude, motivation and character? Which leads to my second point.

2. The CV is your professional history edited to fit a single sheet of paper. It is supposed to tell who you are and give a signal of your potential in the future. Except that, it is awfully bad in both. We are stuck with traditional skills-intensive CV’s because we live in a world that appreciates things such as fancy titles. We associate certain things with success and use things like once title to rationalise things, see things in context and piece things together. Exactly why the first question we inquire when we meet a complete stranger is what they do. Then we usually leave it at that and just assume the rest. We do the same with CV’s.

Yes, CV’s give a good quick snapshot of a person. We use them to paint a picture of who the person is – except that the picture has nothing to do with reality. As long as hiring managers hand lists to HR to proof-write and turn into unimaginative job descriptions we are bound to receive (and rightfully so) CV’s that in reality tell us nothing. But that’s OK because CV’s are only the first checkpoint, right?

3. The interview. That is when you really get to know the candidate. Who they are. What are their dreams and hopes. What makes them tick. Yeah, right. Just think about it. If the interview situation is such a good way of getting to know people, why isn’t it used in all similar situations? When you go out on a date or meet up with strangers, just make the situation feel like a job interview and you’re golden, right? The job interview as a situation is so bizarrely unnatural and affected by so many factors on so many levels that it’s surreal. Worst, it often directs the process to an outcome where the best interviewee gets selected, not necessary the best talent. Of course, you can get a lot more out of an interview than a CV, but to really have a meaningful conversation with someone, we need to introduce something better.

Open House where the company invites anyone interested to come and have a cup of coffee or a slice of pizza, chat and exchange thoughts is one good example of doing interviews differently. New isn’t necessary better. Some suggest resumes should be abandoned altogether in favour of once LinkedIn profile, tweets and Swarm check-ins. I do not know about that but utilising e.g. LinkedIn can widen your talent pool. Video interviews are another example. The candidate takes the interview at home and stays in familiar surroundings. It helps – provably – the candidate to loosen up and act more naturally.

Jari Sarasvuo warns that taxonomic categorisation of people into groups on the basis of shared characteristics is a dangerous misconception. “The culture of the company buys the person. The person in turn buys the company’s story.” Modern recruiting is sourcing, marketing and selling, but it is also about telling stories and building culture. Compelling employer brand is the most powerful recruiting tool a company can have.

Media company Upworthy actually did away with job titles completely and listed an “Open-Ended Job” with no specifications. Zappos went even further and stopped posting job openings altogether. Instead, they encourage applicants to connect with their current employees on Social Media. Tech company Automattic hires only by audition. Before they hire anyone, the candidate goes through a trial process first where they do actual work, on contract ($25/h).

The main point is that recruiting can be done in many different ways. Just because something has been done certain way, does not mean that is always the best way. Just keep experimenting and eventually you will find out what is the best way to recruit for your company.

Let us continue our journey to better recruiting in the next post.

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