I have had the pleasure to be on both sides of the hiring process. Did apply to hundreds of companies, had many interviews and worked for a couple of companies. I also, as an entrepreneur hired dozens of employees for my companies/startups, and cooperated with possibly hundreds of contractors (mostly freelancers). I can say i have been on both sides, and i often revisit both sides.
In modern day job market, companies are chasing illusions, fugazis. The HR person or department, are like a witch coven, they think they have the secret formula to choose the winners for the company, while in reality it all comes down to 2 scenarios.
(This obviously does not apply to mundane jobs, that mostly require low skill workers.)
Here’s the basic truth about employees and hiring:
You really hire employees for 2 reasons.
I- Employee that has the knowledge / skill your company needs.
When the goal is skill/ knowledge: This applies to all skills that take an absurd amount of time to tune, like speaking a specific foreign language, efficient coding in a specific programming language, engineering… Have a specific talent in sales, design, marketing, etc…
When the goal is transfer of know how: This applies mostly when the company is small, and usually a startup. They seek to hire people that had similar roles in other companies, for the simple reason of transfer of know how. In this case, these small companies would be eager to hire people that have a lot of experience working in big companies, because, big company, means success, they must be doing it right! (says the startups that want to disrupt markets because big corporations got it wrong) .
II- Employee that is smart enough to understand the role properly.
If the first reason is not a factor, meaning you don’t need a very specific skill or a transfer of know how, then selection criteria should be obvious. Almost everything else can be learned and mastered in a relatively short time, hence you should seek the smartest employees.
Smart employees are able to fit the required job, whatever the job is. Furthermore, smart employees will be able to understand the bigger picture and improve through feedback the entire organisation.
Smart employees, are easy to teach, up-skill, change skill and move around the company to fill gaps and needs.
In many job offers, you find a list of things the employee should have. And you would find requirements like “knowledge in X or Y program”.
Mastering X or Y program, would probably take a couple of weeks for a dedicated smart individual. The only problem, is that the people creating the job offer are not smart enough to understand that. And when they think such a condition should be a selection criteria, they reduce the talent pool.
You would also find in job offers sentences that are used so much that have became devoid of meaning. Sentences like “strong organisation”, “process-driven”, “self-starter attitude”, “you think strategically” … I am not even sure if the HR responsible of such job offers, realize why or if they need such qualities/criteria.
Startups hiring VS, big cooporations.
When it comes to startups, there is often a lack of structure. Startup employees change positions and roles often, take responsibilities more than they are qualified. They are mostly figuring things out, guessing how things should be done, and if they can be done better. Hence startups should focus on hiring smart individuals, it’s the only way they can pull this off.
Corporate hiring is less dynamic, they want you already experienced in the role, because they want you to be effective as soon as possible. But corporate roles have often proper training, thus smart people would fit here nicely as well.
The ideal employee.
In reality, you often need to be looking for a combination of the 2 reasons above. You will often need to look for smart individuals that have the skills or have the know how. As i said previously, just look for smart creatives, if this job does not require a special multi-year to acquire skill. Unless, of course you are looking for a transfer of know how.
The HR clowns.
There is nothing more annoying for a job applicant, than receiving an mail saying :
Unfortunately, we have decided to proceed with another candidate for this specific position.
Especially, when the HR clowns did not bother to have an interview with a candidate.
Thus the question: Based on what criteria do HR decide, who are the good candidates and who are the bad ones?
If the criteria are what we mentioned above, superficial knowledge and perceived attitude, then you are really reducing the talent pool for no reason.
Luckily, as we are heading into a dystopian future where quotas are more important than IQ, i have a feeling that gender and diversity quotas will become the most important criteria when recruiting. This might make HR job easier, as they would be able to eliminate candidates easier. But i guess quotas are needed, when you realize that the current selection process is even worse, it is based on “feeling”, shallow criteria, and is in disregard of the basic business logic. And if you happen to be in Europe, it is rampant with discrimination.
Employees should feel engaged!
When you hire an employee to work 8 hours a day, you better get him engaged and excited. If the employee is not engaged, it is just a matter of time before he finds better pastures. To get an employee involved in the organisation, he will need to be smart to make a difference. Being engaged leads to better performance and happier employee.
How to get your employees exited ? Usually good salary, part ownership in the company (shares, around 0,5% for early employees) or a prestigious position.
To wrap up this article, if you are looking for a smart individual to take an engaging role, do reach out to me, i might be interested.