Articles & Insights

“Resumes! Why are we still looking at them?”

When I met with a good friend recently, we had one of the more engaging conversations in a while. Not that conversations with him are bland, but this one took an unexpected turn I didn’t see coming.

Tom (not his real name) owns and runs a fast-growing IT company in the data analytics field, started 6 years ago and has over 50 employees. It is no secret that talented programmers need to be constantly at the height of their game and keep up with this fast-moving industry. That creates a bottleneck and good talent is hard to come by.

This is how our conversation went:

He: “Business is great, but I can’t hire people fast enough.”

Me: “That’s a good problem to have.” That was the first time I underestimated the challenges he’s having.

He: “Not really. I hate losing clients. We don’t finish projects on time and make too many mistakes.”

Me: “Why? You’re hiring the best people!” Strike two.

He: “So it would seem, but almost half of our hires turn out to be not what we’re looking for. It just takes us 3-6 months to figure that out. We’re doing everything right during the hiring process, I think, but then something goes wrong on the human level. They all have great credentials, coding skills and interview well, but often they just turn out to be a bad fit. I don’t even know why we are still looking at resumes.”

I realized then how serious this problem was for him. What ensued was a discussion how to identify great talent for the best long-term fit, besides their hard skills. Tom hired fierce and fast but lacked the process to find employees with the right fit of personal characteristics and traits for the company. Many companies have their vision, mission and values formulated and communicated but few have found the link to attach this believe system to their recruiting process.

Hiring processes are already engaging enough and it is still a challenge to find the right personnel match through the few touch points along the way. This is where pre-employment assessments come in as invaluable tools to help companies making the right choices when it comes to strategic hiring. This is not new, is mainstream for many companies and provided by a plethora of providers. To be clear, we are not talking about hard skills assessment but personal attributes which describe a person as a human being. Another issue is that most assessments are stand-alone and there is nothing to compare them with, except themselves.

Here is the moment where I really had Tom’s attention: what you assess in a candidate in the pre-employment stages, you can also do with a job. Sounds odd, doesn’t it? I asked him how helpful it would be to have a fictitious profile of the ideal candidate for a job and then benchmark all serious candidates to their fit. He was excited almost instantly, but also questioned if something likes that exists. It does!

In short, Tom and I dug deeper and he’s now benchmarking the next 2 positions his company needs to fill. The process to identify the right behaviors, motivators and business acumen is thorough and involves HR, the manager and plenty of peers (of the new role). He is confident that the next hires will be a great fit from the outset and that “surprises” will be a thing of the past.

It remains to be said that these are great tools but should never be the only criteria for hiring decisions. They are another arrow in the quiver of HR finding the best talent.

Author: Bernd Haase – Business Partner, C.O.I.