Do Not Fold, Staple Or Mutilate

That was the title of a play my grandmother wrote way back when.  It was also what was written on IBM cards back in the day.  Back when everything and everybody was an IBM card.  The IBM cards are gone, but the attitudes that created them are still, unfortunately very much alive.  Far too many people want to define people into cards and put them into slots as if we all have holes punched and when the pins  match up we are where we are supposed to be.  With the cards where nothing matches up run through again and again and when they get “mutilated” thrown in the trash.

I ran into this  when I tried to apply for contract job  earlier this week. The lady on the other end would not, submit me, simply because she felt that I “was not a good fit.”  I had been put in a slot in this woman’s mind and there was nothing I could do to change that.

This kind of attitude seems to prevail in the hiring community these days. I suppose that it’s easier  to put people in boxes and match keywords than it is to actually talk to people . The problem is that the typical job isn’t a slot, it’s an experience.  The work usually starts with “not in my job description.”  These aren’t the days of the assembly line putting screw 205345 into part 323537 and fill out form I-385 at the end of the day. Frank Taylor taken to the ultimate.

The last 30 years so have been the beginning of a revolution on how business is done taking advantage of the digital technologies and all that they have spun off.  Hiring, and how employees are treated is still stuck in the 1970’s with all the put people in boxes thinking that goes with that.

Of course the companies and the recruiting people all want the “top people.”  The problem is that they base everything on people in those stupid slots.  But the real qualities of a person won’t show up on their resume.  Stay in one place and do the same things over and over and you will build experience.  It will not be “experience,” though.  Doing the same thing isn’t growth, it’s just staying pat. The real top people grow.

The problem is that the ATS based, data mangled hiring systems that are in use by all too many companies are creating so much effort looking for unicorns that they forget the real reason for the whole thing.  All those systems for screening people out when what’s needed is a way to find the best people to bring in.  Which is the thing that the systems are failing miserably at.

The fact is that nobody knows what’s going to happen until they try to do it.  Doing a job, in spite of what all the consultants and “experts” say, isn’t a matter of the software you use or your credentials or anything that can be measured.  It’s a matter of sitting down and not quitting.  The best people know how to overcome obstacles because, more than likely they have had to do that.  But That stuff doesn’t show up on a resume and no ATS system will screen for it.

On paper, this person had hardly any of the requirements laid out in our job description. Publisher experience? Nope. Expertise building and leading a large team? No again. (Crap.)

But here’s what this candidate did have: exceptional strategic thinking; deep mobile experience with the world’s largest providers; and the skills to create killer partnerships. Most of all, he radiated a contagious, no-holds-barred attitude. This transcended the requirements we’d convinced ourselves were non-negotiable in the job description. Although he wasn’t the “perfect match,” this candidate showed that investing in him would be a great decision for our company.

He was right.

As long as the hiring system insists on putting people in slots, the system will continue to fail.  It will fail the job seeker and it will fail the companies.  In the end everybody loses.

One would think that hiring times would be getting shorter. Yet it’s the opposite that’s true.  It’s time for some out of the box thinking and human based, rather than slot based hiring.




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