ill-considered certainty is reasonable as far as I’m concerned. Unearned certainty strikes me as the disease of our age.
Wow. That line resonates for me in an article full of great analysis. It is especially relevant to recruiting and hiring and employment and all the ways work itself is broken today. Unearned certainty abounds.
I think much of our problem lies in how we process information and make decisions - how we see the world and why we make the decisions we do.
New developments in cognition research show us that the way we decide to act in in one way over another is more complicated than we realize.
As recruiters, we do a lot of deciding. Who do I call, who do I email, what profile is interesting, which one is not.
It starts earlier than that, though. When we place an open position in our mind, we start thinking about "who will be a fit?" We are deciders, differentiators. It doesn't matter if we are outside agency folks (like me), or internal recruiters, those acts of choosing are central to what we do. We look at resumes, web profiles, cover letters and we choose who gets our attention, because we can't talk to them all.
As recruiters, we do a lot of deciding. Who do I call, who do I email, what profile is interesting, which one is not. It starts earlier than that, though. When we place an open position in our mind, we start thinking about "who will be a fit?" We are deciders, differentiators. It doesn't matter if we are outside agency folks (like me), or internal recruiters, those acts of choosing are central to what we do. We look at resumes, web profiles, cover letters and we choose who gets our attention, because we can't talk to them all.
I've noticed, over my almost 20 years of agency recruiting holey hell how did that happen, that though I always worked for tiny little companies with tiny little budgets for tools/staff I was able to compete effectively mostly because of how I parse information. I'm good with trends, and systems, and technology - it comes easily to me. Time and again I'd look at a resume someone else would pass by and I would call them, represent them and they'd be the candidate hired. Sometimes another recruiter from another agency would have spoken to them but passed them by. I'd talk to them, pull some additional detail out of their background, and eventually they would be the one to get hired. It happened enough that I began thinking about resumes and job descriptions as a little game for me to play, and eventually my desk became an experiment in pattern matching and eliciting conditioned responses, which if you think about it is a big part of job-searching. Which if you think about it long enough, in this economy, will make you sad.
The thing is, many of us are pretty rigid in our thinking. When we start the process we make it super narrow, because we think we know *exactly* what our hiring managers want, and honestly? We usually don't. I mean we have a good idea of the parameters and what is essential, but often the actual triggers making one person hire another person are more in flux than we want to admit. I was taught to rule candidates out before I ruled them in - to imagine how candidates could be seen as "not a fit" so that I could build a better argument for why they were. But I think many of us either forget that second action item, or don't understand what we recruit for deeply enough to color outside of narrowly defined lines.
I think we are often so certain ourselves, or our hiring authorities are also so certain, that we don't open our minds to candidates that could be just as good (or even better) than the picture in our minds. I think rigidity, that "unearned certainty" part of the reason folks have trouble getting traction in our current marketplace. Perhaps it is a small part. I'm not saying that recruiters can solve the unemployment problem by opening our minds, but I wonder what would happen if we tried, as a rule, to be less certain of our decision that a particular candidate doesn't get a shot.
ould be shot before the raven left the limb at sunrise. It was my very first confidential search for a CFO so I was determined to find the best in the west in this cloak and dagger secret world of being a headhunter.
I mentioned to a friend that I was looking for a CPA with big eight (in the dark ages there eight) background. She had an aha moment, said she had met a fellow at a chamber meeting who was a CFO but she didn't know who he worked for or if he had big 8 background. (if you see this one coming you have been a recruiter longer than I had been at that moment).
Wonderful sez I. How about you call him, tell him a headhunter would like to invite him to join us for dinner so I can interview him over dinner. She asked who the job was with. I sprained in my best covert operative tone of voice that it was highly confidential. Off to dinner we went. Enter the target. He was drop dead gorgeous, had been a senior manager with kpmg, graduate of William and Mary and had moved to the city to join a company six years previously as their CFO. I was very busy selling my confidential CFO listing, explaining of course that it was highly confidential so I would not be able to release the company name until my boss and I went over his resume with the owner of our client company. I did a great selling job. He was interested, very interested. We agreed that he would drop his resume off to me at my office the next morning.
Thinking that I had landed the big fish, I hit the office early to tell my boss that I had in record time found the replacement for her secret job. She was amazed when I gave her the download and asked who he was with currently. I had forgotten in my big sell to ask him who he was with currently but splained quickly that he was on his way to the office to bring his resume and meet with both of us so she might want to call the client to drop on over. She did. I was about to be a hero.
My super recruit arrived, I buzzed my boss announced he was here and we were coming to her office. We walked into her office, I handed her one copy of his resume sat down and opened my copy just as she looked at her copy. My life passed before my eyes. I had managed to recruit the guy for the company that was getting ready to fire him as fast as I could find a replacement for him and his boss was on the way in ten minutes to meet this paragon of all things financial whom I had so cleverly managed to find in only one day.
My boss looked at me with a look that made me grateful that the office windows on the 17th floor did not open and were shatter proof. After a frozen moment in time I recovered enough to say something to the effect that his resume looked great but since mrs. S. Had a meeting in a few minutes, why didn't he and I run downstairs to the coffee shop and visit a bit. I hustled him out the backdoor of the office and onto the elevator just as one of the other elevators opened.
Neither of the gentlemen involved ever knew that Ms. Superstar had narrowly averted a recruiting disaster of the first order. I did find his replacement, he got fired. I placed him out of town so he would never know what a debacle I had created. My boss suggested in no uncertain terms that it might be a good idea to find out who a candidate for before I did the whole dog and pony show. As I recall I didn't sleep much until the whole thing was over. Yuck...
As George Carlin would say, it was a near hit.…