Will Soon Replace All Job Boards?

Jul 15, 2010
This article is part of a series called Opinion.

Something is fundamentally wrong with the hiring process used by most companies in the U.S. We tend to hire too many people who are willing to take a job until something better comes along.

Companies don’t implement this “holding pattern” concept intentionally, but at the core level the hiring process most companies use involves matching people who have the requisite skills and are looking, with jobs they’ve done before. While they might get lucky and find someone who sees the job as a great career opportunity, this is more chance than likely, and certainly not an efficient way to design a process for hiring stronger people on a consistent basis.

In most cases, hiring a top performer violates “company policy” in some way, so it’s avoided whenever possible. As a result, the natural resume-matching-the-job-description process dominates, offering the path of least resistance. The consequences: most positions are filled with people who are satisfied with taking a job that’s a lateral transfer. This is not the best way to grow a company. After not too many years, you’ll have little bench strength, and a great many dissatisfied employees just hanging in there waiting for something better to come along.

This dismal scenario is not preordained, but is does require a totally different perspective on hiring.

Idea: rather than build the core process around offering people lateral transfers, let’s redesign it based on the idea of offering people career moves. To pull it off, it requires the complete elimination of skills-based job descriptions and traditional resumes as the primary means of finding jobs and matching people. Since resumes and job descriptions are the root cause of the problem, this is an essential first step.

Expect some resistance here. Going down this path will affect the design of job boards, career sites, talent communities, referral programs, aggregators, social networking tools, mobile connecting technology, ATSs, every new idea on how to find candidates and fill open jobs, and every process involved in hiring and recruiting people. So don’t read any further if you’re not interested in changing the world.

With this world-changing vision as a backdrop, I want to lay out the product requirements documents for a new job attracting and matching vehicle, aka the job portal of the future: (Warning: this is still in the concept phase, so you’ll only find ideas here.)

Product Requirements for

Design Objective: start with a blank sheet of paper with the goal of developing a prototypical job-matching portal designed to put people into the best career opportunity possible.

  1. Only career position postings will be allowed. Posting traditional job descriptions is forbidden. Each career opportunity must be creative, attention-getting, and describe why the position represents a career move. Those who mislead or violate this rule will have to pay a massive fine. (This is the business model for the site.)
  2. Admin info of any type (req numbers, hours, etc.) is not permitted in the career description. There will no space to put any of this information.
  3. Any requirements listed must be minimal and mentioned in the context of what the person will be doing with the skills. For example, “you’ll be using your media design skills to develop high-impact 30-second video soundbites.” A template will be provided showing users what’s permitted and what’s not. Anything that includes absolute levels of experience required, academics, years of skills, or industry background is strictly forbidden. Anyone caught violating this rule will be permanently barred from using the site or pay another massive fine.
  4. Career planning tools will be provided. Prospects will be able to determine what the next best career move for them is, and how to maximize their growth opportunities. Decision tools will be included that allow candidates to compare different career opportunities based on a balance of strategic (long-term growth and opportunity) and tactical (compensation, location) criteria. As part of this, compensation, the employer brand, and relocation will be shown to be less important from a career growth and personal satisfaction standpoint.
  5. Career opportunities will be pushed to potential prospects based on their personal career plan. Based on the person’s personalized career plan job, opportunities will be available for instant review, with guidance provided on which ones offer the best upside opportunity.
  6. Prospects are not allowed to apply. There will be no capability to formally apply. Since a career is unique to a person based on his or her abilities, interests, life situation, experiences, and career objectives, the matching process must also be unique. Instead a new two-step process will be created that allows a candidate to submit a statement of interest followed by some type of informal two-way discussion.
  7. Managers must talk with qualified prospects before the person can formally state an interest in moving to the next step. Getting hiring managers involved early in the process is a critical design feature of this career portal. Part of this would be a two-minute video featuring the manager describing what the job is all about and why it could represent a career move for the right person. This is an important part of the hiring process, since the best people consider the quality of the hiring manager as part of their decision. Hiring managers will be required to conduct exploratory meetings with prospects who have been vetted, with the idea of presenting their positions as career moves, but also tasked with the goal of qualify that the person as a high achiever and convincing them to formally apply. Managers who don’t agree will not be permitted to post their career opportunities on the site.
  8. A new application process will be created that focuses on what the candidate has accomplished. This whole idea of this site is based around performance. Companies must define what performance is required for job success, and candidates must define what they’ve actually accomplished in each of their past jobs. The performance needs of the job will be compared to the performance achieved by the candidate to determine initial fit. If there’s a match at this level, a determination will be made if the opportunity offers a real career move or just a glorified lateral transfer.
  9. A formal process will be used for candidates to compare jobs from a career perspective. Unless overriding personal circumstance exist, candidates will not be allowed to take positions that are not career moves. Frequently, candidates in their haste to leave something less desirable make short-term decisions for the sake of long-term growth. This multi-factor decision tool will force candidates to think through their decisions carefully, allowing collaboration with family, friends, and personal advisors.
  10. Companies that use this career matching portal will have to agree to change their assessment process. As a minimum this means making sure everyone who interviews the candidate knows the performance requirements of the positions, and must share factual evidence in a formal debriefing session using an evidence-based scorecard. Anybody found adding up Yes/No votes will be permanently excluded from the site and reported to the authorities for malpractice.

There are a number of other cool features in the works, but we can’t reveal them at this time, since they’ll mess up many more business models currently in use and those on the planning board. Regardless, if you want to raise your company’s overall talent level you need to start using, or something equivalent. Anything less will just maintain the status quo.

Note: while this is not a working site yet, many of these features described above are currently available. Email me if you’d like to discuss how you can create your own career matching hiring process.

This article is part of a series called Opinion.
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