What price perfect?
A mark of the modern employment market is the seeming inability to find skilled, competent employees. Companies continually complain about the lack of fundamental skills in recent graduates while government clamors for increased STEM education.
But this mistates the situation.
Even as communities continue to recover from massive outsourcing and the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression the truth about the job market is less complex and therefore even more shocking.
Companies are looking for perfect.
Somewhere along the way with the HR function fully complicit we lost sight of hiring people to do a job and started to think about hiring brand extensions. We started to look for people without any blemish professionally or interpersonally and turned hiring into a lottery as opposed to a competitive process.
The job market still functions at the extremes. For people with no absolute skill there are minimum wage jobs with few if any benefits – but these don’t lead to career. On the other end of the spectrum with the right technical skills [read: those in short supply] one can find work regardless of education, work history or other factors including English literacy. These same factors derail so many other workers.
So, on the edges the market still functions.
But in the fat middle, where all the jobs are, this is not the case.
Where service, sales and support jobs are found across the spectrum of employers perfect counts. Reasonably competent people are being denied employment because they’re not, well, perfect.
- Degrees more than five years old are often ignored
- Self-employment is viewed suspiciously
- Credit problems or job-hopping are undesired
- Silly #SoMe self-posts can turn employers off
- Minor criminal convictions can stop one cold (hence, ban the box)
- And finally, physical appearance including height/weight proportions matters even as much as we swear they don’t
In other words, its tough to get a job.
Otherwise well-qualified candidates are being turned down for the flimsiest of reasons. Subjective, speculative and supercilious rationale is used to suggest a person may not be a good hire. Often we use code to exclude someone from consideration by talking about fit.
Hiring managers who don’t know ethics from empathy or culture from cordwood opine that a candidate isn’t “a good fit.” What that really means is, I don’t like this person but I can’t find a sound reason to turn them away. So I’ll say they don’t fit.
Here’s what we need to do.
Candidates: get serious about your credentials, qualifications and objectives and stop using slang in your job interviews and putting drunken selfies on Facebook. You are better than this.
Employers: forget about perfect (Jesus already has a gig) and start being reasonable. You are not marrying someone you are leasing their skills for a period of time. Qualify and hire candidates on job compemetencies not extraneous factors. Let’s revive job-relatedness as a screening tool.
And above all, let’s change the way we look at employment. Rather than searching through all sorts of biographical data to find the one reason to exclude someone, let’s make informed decisions about skills, potential and take some educated risks.
You remember risk, right? Its how every business got started.