Is Your Recruiting Process Like the Typewriter?

Over the past decade, the process of recruiting has gone through a dramatic evolution through the use of database technology and the Internet. Though most organizations have by now adopted new technology to replace labor-intensive methods, many have still fallen short at truly innovating how they operate. Like many things in business and life, we often continue to do things out of habit, or by simply failing to ask the question, why? To illustrate this point, here’s an interesting piece of history for you. Look Down at Your Keyboard The standard computer keyboard uses the same layout from the original typewriter design that has been around for about 130 years. Some of you probably were taught this famous QWERTY design in high school typing class (or “keyboarding” class, as a 16-year-old recently corrected me). If this was how you were taught, you would assume that the keyboard layout was designed for maximum efficiency. This design probably came from extensive engineering, testing, and refinement, right? Actually, no. Historical accounts tell us that the current design was not the result of it being the most efficient layout. Some say it was an intentional scrambling of the keyboard to slow down the typist, because the mechanical parts could not keep up and would jam otherwise. Other accounts put the design as a clever marketing ploy by Remington so that their salesmen could quickly punch out the letters “type write” in demonstrations (which all appear in the top row of the QWERTY design). The point is that the keyboard design we still use today is not necessarily the most efficient, yet it has survived through generations of technical evolutions, including electronic typewriters and modern computer keyboards. The Resume Is Our Typewriter Keyboard The resume has been the standard form of presenting work history for decades and has stayed virtually unchanged. This is our typewriter keyboard in recruiting. At one time, it was a nice method of handling information. But that was before the level of database technology we currently utilize improved exponentially. Now it represents an outdated tool. Despite this, many companies are still trying to wrap their recruiting processes around it. So what is the alternative? Stop accepting resumes? Actually, many companies have stopped accepting paper resumes and are now requiring everyone to apply online. The scanning, the coding, and the paper handling were just too much of a hassle. Some candidates may be lost, but moving applicants completely online just makes sense. The resume is symbolic of how we have evolved yet stayed the same. At some point, you must question things like the resume and ask how much sense they still make. What else in your recruiting process are you dragging forward like the resume or the QWERTY keyboard? Change and Innovation No matter how attractive innovation can be, many people still opt for what is standard. After all, it’s comfortable. How many of you cringe at the thought of learning a new applicant tracking system, much less a new keyboard? Wouldn’t you rather churn through stacks of resumes rather than figure out a new system? Let’s face it, most people don’t want to change the way they work. We are creatures of habit. Back in our typewriter example, though, the U.S. Navy did studies in the 1940s and found better layouts that could be learned quicker and increased typing speeds 20% to 30%. Sadly, this information was never implemented. The cost to retrain the existing staff and change equipment seemed too daunting. And generations later, with all new workers and all new equipment, millions of people are still typing slower than they could. Regardless of how your organization feels about change, now may be a good time to take a long, hard look at your recruiting process as a whole and think about ways to improve it in order to remain competitive while optimizing your resources. As you look at your recruiting process, there are three things you need to initially do:

  • Map out your entire recruiting process. This may seem like an arduous process, but sitting down with the team and getting a clear picture of your recruiting process from end to end may help make some possible improvements more obvious. Management and frontline employees need to be included, and you need to compare the model to how things are actually done.
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  • Identify value-added steps. Ask some tough questions about your various steps. Is this something that is needed or valued by the hiring manager, the candidate, or the CEO?
  • Question everything. Why do we still do this? What would happen if we stopped? How can we do this faster or better?

Conclusion Your organization must strike a balance between innovation and standardization, but too often we don’t question existing processes enough. As your recruiting process continues to evolve to meet new business challenges, it is important to periodically take a look at what you do, make a map of your activities, identify where you are adding value or not, and ask yourself some tough questions. Take a look at your keyboard again and think about your recruiting process. Is it really the best way for you to do business, or is it just the way you are used to doing it?

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