The Human Element - Gone From Hiring Forever???

Posted: 1/14/2015

By: Elias Cobb, Quantix Recruiting Manager

Is the "human element" completely gone from most companies' hiring processes? Can we ever get it back, with all the keyword screeners, personality profiles, VMS, ATS, etc., systems in place?

Here's where I'm coming from: As a recruiter, I've spoken with many, many job seekers over the years. I also try and read articles from corporate recruiters, HR, job seekers and agency recruiters like myself. And of course, I see the hiring process from the actual manager's perspective every day. Most managers trying to hire will complain about the process and the types of candidates, and the speed with which they receive those candidates. Their jobs stay open forever. And candidates will get no reply from companies with openings that fit their skills! This is in the IT market, where I work every day. "Of course," you say, "IT professionals are hard to find, and in high demand." And you're right. That certainly plays a little into the process.

However, over the last few weeks, I observed a completely different part of the hiring process. My 16-year-old stepson was between jobs. He was looking for a part-time, minimum wage position somewhere near where we live. So naturally we drove around to see who was hiring, going into many national chains that had been advertising "Help Wanted" and "Now Hiring All Shifts" signs for the last three+ months. Of course he was directed to apply online in virtually all cases.

Here's where it got interesting: He had to fill out lengthy (50+ questions) personality profile tests for all of these big chains and received back no response from the overwhelming majority. One notable exception was Good Times, who politely told him that he wasn't what they were looking for. I appreciate the response, but that restaurant had posted a help wanted sign for well over three months! My stepson has restaurant experience in cooking / customer service / register, etc.! I can only imagine the frustration the Good Times manager at that location must feel, being understaffed, and quite possibly (applying some of my knowledge and experience with IT managers) never seeing applicants because their HR system is automatically rejecting them! Obviously, that sign could have been left out there, and they really aren't hiring. But I do think it odd that so many places have needs, yet so few called him back.

 

Image Credit:  Pixuffle.net

On the flip side, while we were driving around, we stopped at another restaurant, this one where the manager had more autonomy and they had *gasp* paper applications! My stepson went in, met with the manager, who then interviewed him and offered him the job on the spot. Obviously that made my stepson very happy, but more than that, the manager was able to get someone in immediately to help his short-staffed restaurant.

I definitely see an enormous difference, both personally, but more so professionally in how the process works when we can keep the human element alive. People are so much more than a resume, a group of keywords, a personality profile, yet large companies keep thinking it's better to have computer applications screening out thousands of qualified people based on exactly those items. Or worse yet, there are systems in place that value cost over everything else! As if each software developer is exactly the same, so getting one for $30/hour must be a better value than the one at $50/hour! Ask all those companies who offshored everything back in the early 2000s how that worked out....

I guess the bigger question is how to put the human element back in. Can we ever reduce the reliance on computer screening? Is this the way of the future? It makes me feel sad for the younger generation and the people without much work experience. It's not easy to get a first job, and putting all these barriers in place doesn't help. I also feel for hiring managers, who have their bonuses and goals based on their team's output, yet are consistently hamstrung by not being able to fill their open jobs in a timely fashion. And of course that just leads to more turnover as the team feels stressed and overworked because they're down a person. It's a never ending cycle.

Somehow, I feel that trying to change this will be a bit like putting toothpaste back in the tube....