From September, 2012

The Dangers of Hiring a “False Positive” Candidate.

According to a Careerbuilder survey, a bad hire can cost the hiring organization as much as $50K and most of these bad hires are attributed to the hiring manager either making a rushed decision or inadequate talent intelligence.  In essence they are hiring what is called a “false positive”.  A false positive is a candidate that looks great on paper or in the interview but turns out to be a toad fish rather than a marlin.

Now are you getting it?  False positives unfortunately are going to occur especially when an organization is in such a rush to fill a position however false negatives can be avoided with minimal effort.  Now I understand you don’t think you have the time to find every big fish out there and you’re willing to forego the marlin and catch something much smaller as long as you can save time doing it.  In other words that speckled trout won’t look as good on your wall as the Marlin but at least you didn’t have to spend five hours in the hot sun looking for him.

That analogy might describe the current hiring process as you know but what if I told you that every time you got a nibble you could know within five minutes whether to cut bait or reel it in?  No matter how deep your line went you could know exactly what was biting.  I’ve had hiring managers bring candidates of mine in for interviews within five minutes of seeing them on video who they had previously rejected as not being worthy.

If you haven’t worried about the one that got away it is time to start because hiring “good enough” isn’t always going to cut it.  Your organization is not going to grow and you can’t keep pace with your competitors if you are not hiring employees who can passionately further your cause.  You already know this.  What should most trouble you is that in every hiring process you have the potential to dismiss a job candidate, sight unseen, who could take your organization to new heights.  So far your philosophy has been, “What the eye doesn’t see the heart doesn’t grieve over.”

You’d better start grieving!

Hiring: Is it Time to Worry About the One that Got Away?

Even if you’ve never been fishing you certainly have seen at least one time on television what I’m about to describe.  A fisherman strains, his muscles flex and the rod he holds is bent to its maximum potential as he reels in his prize fish.  He knows he’s got a big one.  If he catches it he will pose for pictures with it, mount it on his wall, and maybe even enter the record books.  The fish is almost to the boat.  He reels it closer and then SNAP, tragedy strikes!  The line breaks and the fish frantically gets the hell out of Dodge.

What is most heartbreaking about this scenario is that the fisherman had a glimpse, either through sight or strain on the rod, of what he had almost acquired.  This is not always true in the world of hiring, however.  HR and hiring managers are often unconcerned when a good candidate, a marlin for instance, gets away from them.  The reason is they never understood what they had within their grasp.  They never saw that stellar fish.  Their ATS, an often necessary evil in the hiring world, let  it get away before it even reached their hook.  Even in their search for big game they may have dismissed the small nibbles dancing on their pole as nothing more than a guppy when potentially they had a record catch.

What most don’t realize is how many times they have eliminated a stellar candidate without ever seeing him or her.  Their minor concern over something in the candidate’s resume or even some subconscious bias influenced their decision to ignore the prize.  This candidate, the one that got away, is called a “false negative”.

In my experience good candidates get rejected based on paper, that is, either their resume or the results of an assessment.

I often use video interviewing in my recruiting efforts because it allows me to get the candidate in front of a hiring manager who otherwise might be disinclined to interview my candidate face to face.  Once they see and hear the candidate’s potential via video,  they are often more inclined to invest the time to interview the candidate.  The video interview is like a glimpse of that marlin bursting out of the water.  They see the candidate and then understand the potential of what they have.

I will discuss this subject in more detail next week in my post, “False Positives are Just as Costly as False Negatives, Even If We Never See Them.”

Manufacturing Employment Declines: The Canary in the Coal Mine for All Employment…Or Not?

I recently wrote a blog post detailing how America’s manufacturing output has continued to trend upward while the manufacturing workforce shrinks.  Growing productivity driven by advances in technology has allowed fewer U.S. workers to produce ever greater manufacturing output.

Two recent articles suggest that the trend to lower employment as the result of technology advances is extending beyond manufacturing.

In March of this year the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) published an article entitled “The declining average size of establishments:  evidence and explanations”.  The article cited evidence that the average size of establishments* in the U.S. has been declining since 2000.

The study goes on to report that establishments are starting smaller and staying smaller.  The finding appears to cut across virtually all industries.  The key hypothesis from the BLS analysis relevant to any discussion of the future of employment is this:

We believe that this finding of smaller establishment births is consistent with the hypothesis that new establishments are entering the economy with new modes of production that place a greater emphasis on technology and a lesser emphasis on labor.

The second article appeared in the August 18th issue of the New York Times.  Entitled “Skilled Work, Without the Worker”, the article goes into detail about how robots are replacing human workers at manufacturing sites around the world.  They predict that this trend will continue, and extends beyond manufacturing to the distribution business as well.

According to the author: 

Some jobs are still beyond the reach of automation: construction jobs that require workers to move in unpredictable settings and perform different tasks that are not repetitive; assembly work that requires tactile feedback like placing fiberglass panels inside airplanes, boats or cars; and assembly jobs where only a limited quantity of products are made or where there are many versions of each product, requiring expensive reprogramming of robots.

But that list is growing shorter.”

If these findings accurately predict the future of employment, we’ll have to see more, smaller enterprises being formed if we are to have any hope of achieving anything near full employment.

Of course, the other conclusion one could draw is that as the average output per human worker goes up, this productivity gain could (should?) result in higher wages for the worker, depending upon (a) the level of competition for those workers, (b) the willingness of business owners and managers to practice stakeholder capitalism that recognizes that workers are also customers , and (c) the actions of government to protect workers and workers’ incomes.

It might do well to look to Germany.  According to an Op-Ed piece by Hedrick Smith published in the New York Times on Labor Day:

“In Germany, still a manufacturing and export powerhouse, average hourly pay has risen five times faster since 1985 than in the United States. The secret of Germany’s success, says Klaus Kleinfeld, who ran the German electrical giant Siemens before taking over the American aluminum company Alcoa in 2008, is “the social contract: the willingness of business, labor and political leaders to put aside some of their differences and make agreements in the national interests.”

So, is this dire news for workers, or the dawn of a new age of a more highly paid workforce driving the demand for goods and services to ever higher levels, resulting in a full employment economy?

*The U.S. Census Bureau defines “establishments” and their relationship to “enterprises” as follows:  “An establishment is a single physical location at which business is conducted or where services or industrial operations are performed. An enterprise is a business organization consisting of one or more domestic establishments under common ownership or control. For companies with only one establishment, the enterprise and the establishment are the same. The employment of a multi-establishment enterprise is determined by summing the employment of all associated establishments.”