Monday, January 28, 2013

When the “System” Breaks Down, Pt.I

Ever have the craaazy idea of actually walking into a company to hand carry your resume and apply for a job in person? Go ahead; just try to walk into a medium or large-sized company like this in the hope of making contact with an actual human being past the reception desk. What decade do you think this is, anyway? It’s likely they won’t even bother sending out a junior HR person to at least patronize you I mean, come on, after all it’s 2013 - nobody wants to actually talk to you. Most of the time you’ll be stopped in your tracks and instructed to check the website and “submit” (I hate that word) your resume online. I don’t work that way, so why should you? Have you noticed that Human Resources has become anything but human? In the present era, the department that used to be the first step and the sieve through which interested applicants go is increasingly faceless and insulated? They don’t want to talk to you, just who do you think you are, go back home and follow the rules, apply online; don’t call us, we’ll call you is the crystal clear message. The bigger the company the more bureaucratic (screwed up) they are. For those who think push-button, or rather I should say one-click solutions, to attract and hire people is the wave of the future, where are your roast beef and mashed potato pills? Which Jetson cartoon character are you, George, Jane, Judy or Elroy? (For my friends and readers in Europe, look’em up on Wikipedia for context) Not even Astro the dog is as obedient as we’re now supposed to be, yet these are the methods we’re expected to follow.  

The human factor in hiring has been vanishing since the Internet became a crutch to avoid actually meeting applicants one-on-one. For the sake of expediency, hiring processes rely way too much on digital methods and screening tools intended to save time. There is nothing wrong with funneling applicants and resumes online, but there is a trend of eliminating first-round introductory meetings, replaced in some cases with personality profiles. Don’t worry, the software will tell them who is worthy of meeting. Ultimately, generic one-size-fits-all solutions hammer and mold people into little square pegs meant only for square holes, so when companies say they want innovators but primarily use these methods, it’s a contradiction. So it’s ironic when I read that many large and well-known companies claim they can’t find qualified workers. They are half-right because there are skills shortages. Some of it has to do with the education system, or because certain skills are being neglected since so many prefer to be a lawyer, doctor or a shrink, just like on TV – even if the market is already saturated with too many of those, thus driving down those big incomes everyone dreams of, but that’s a topic for another day. Consequently, might it also be the result of the current faceless, nameless, generic, plain vanilla, everyone’s the same, non-descript, de-humanizing processes we are all expected to follow when looking for a job? Sorry, but I am not a fan of hiring systems meant to spay and neuter productive people, denying them of their ambition and initiative. If you identify with anything I am saying, and – is anybody looking - if you dare to nod in agreement, what can you do about it?  

(Part two of three will be posted on Thursday) 

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