Blog, Human Resources

The Hiring Process

Recently I’ve been involved in helping a good friend (we’ll call him Jim) search for a job. He has been unemployed now for quite some time and he is getting very frustrated with the job search (as am I). Jim has over 12 years of IT, operational and project management experience and has even been an entrepreneur but he cannot seem to find a position. According to Jim, he never hears back from 90% of the positions he applies for and barely gets interviews from the other 10%. After nearly 6 months without a job, he is still searching….and the reason why he is still searching comes down to the fact that he doesn’t have a college degree according to the people he has interviewed with.

It seems that corporate America has decided that only college educated people (regardless of experience) are worth hiring. I imagine that this shift toward only hiring (or promoting) people with college educations is one of the reasons that the Degree Mill industry has become such as large problem in the world today (read more about Degree Mills here).

Part of me wonders if the problem isn’t that Jim doesn’t have a degree, but that the screening process within organizations is broken. A recent post by Erik Mazzone led me to Lisa Haneberg’s recent post about job descriptions and I think both of these articles definitely add more insight into the problem. In fact, Lisa might have actually found the answer to my questions about the hiring process when she states:

Think about the most amazing employee at your company. Do you think that this person’s background and experiences match the job description for his or her job? Most don’t and in fact, some would not even get an interview if the job description were used as the only screening criteria. In other words, job descriptions often do a disservice to the selection process

This makes me wonder about who is actually writing the job descriptions within organizations and what the screening process is. It seems pretty clear to me through working with my friend that the screening process within most organizations is broken (or at least misguided in their screening criteria).

I wonder if the answers to these questions could help shine some light on the solution to this problem.

  • Does the modern organization have such a large pool of talent that they can afford to automatically reject those people without a degree?
  • Is the experience that my friend is having commonplace or is there another issue about his experience and background that is causing this rejection?
  • Are organizations doing the best job that they can to screen candidates? What are the backgrounds of the people that are screening candidates….experienced HR professionals, hiring managers or inexperienced/new recruiters (I’m leaning toward the inexperienced/new recruiters).
  • As pointed out here, does the problem actually exist because of poor job descriptions and criteria for hiring a candidate?

I don’t have any answers right now, but I think there has to be a way to improve all aspects of the hiring process by working with HR and Hiring managers to create better candidate profiles, job descriptions and screening processes.

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About Eric D. Brown, D.Sc.

Eric D. Brown, D.Sc. is a data scientist, technology consultant and entrepreneur with an interest in using data and technology to solve problems. When not building cool things, Eric can be found outside with his camera(s) taking photographs of landscapes, nature and wildlife.
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17 years ago

Great post. You raise some very good questions.

I agree with the implication of your first question, that the talent pool is not so large that employers can afford to automatically reject applicants over non-critical issues. Of course, for some jobs, having a certain degree or certificate is critical, but it does not sound so in your friend’s case.

Hiring well is one of a manager’s most important functions. Doing it well makes the rest of the job much easier, and doing it poorly makes the rest of the job impossible.

17 years ago

[…] The survey results are interesting…I’d like to see results of this same type of survey in the US. Personally, I’m all for reviewing a candidates work experience and have usually preferred to hire more experienced people over fresh-faced college grads, but I don’t see that being the norm in the United States in the recent years (see my post titled “The Hiring Process” for my thoughts on that). The last point makes me wonder if similar circumstances exist here in the US. […]

14 years ago

I don’t really believe the talent pool is so large they can just toss those folks aside… at least not for specific jobs. I am currently going back to school to obtain this unnecessary 4 year degree that apparently all companies want you to have. I am very capable in fact more than most I have seen in the workforce (even the ones with a 4 year degree, most of those I find to be useless “aka Lazy” employees) I have been trying for 3 or so years to break into project management, I have a Six Sigma Black Belt… Read more »