Is HR “tech blocking” your best candidates?

kathleen_kettner_office_tradecraft_O365_HR_tech_block

Who’s looking at your resumes?

The LinkedIn article referenced above presumes that HR has a “plays well with others” bias that devalues the high-level skills of applicants who design and deliver intellectual product.  I couldn’t agree more.  For some jobs there is a need for ongoing morale events and repeated presentations about the retirement options, yes.  HR is their guiding light and can successfully screen for suitable candidates and herd them through the work world.  For detecting the presence of actual tech-finance-engineering-science talent?  No.  NO.

Consider more carefully the winning skills in STEM careers: practitioners derive satisfaction from knowledge and training in advanced concepts usually narrowing as they advance to their specialty.  It’s a brain-power thing and requires “headspace” that can only be self-defined.  These aren’t fleets of fast food workers easily put in service after a ten-minute video on the fryer, nor are their duties controlled by the clock.  There is a fusion of abstract knowledge applied to concrete challenges for those providing conceptual capital to your business and for that you don’t hand out company logo shirts and talk up the retreat.

This is not to give a free pass to the asocial and the unsocial who prefer to ignore basic politeness.  People who have chosen to root their career with applied thinking in engineering, architecture, economics, etc., do not respond to traditional HR blandishments.  They don’t need to be told when they are right:  it is simply a fact.

None of these people are going to be over-involved with your HR department because by their nature they are not concerned with the same things.  HR retains its big picture emphasis on benefits and compensation, of course, but keep them away from the nuts and bolts of your high performance contributors.  Remember, these bright and capable candidates don’t always make easy-reading resumes or shine in interviews.  They may not know (care) that a minimally skilled screener (or sifting software) controls the gateway: that wouldn’t be logical!  At the least, over-emphasis on slotting skills and keywords is a poor method of analysis if it denies your best scout(s) access to the full and unfiltered talent pool.

Just the Gist:  Don’t let HR screeners control resume access, they can make tidy piles based on the keyword list and time-in-chair calculations but they should not have the power to reject an applicant outright.  There should always be a quick scan by somebody who really knows the business to spot analogous talent of value.

HR Screening Tip:  Mask the names on the resumes, both first and last, disguising gender and ethnicity and the ineffable presumptions based on your “vision” of Mike, Maisie or Madelyn Kwan-Rios-Bishop.

Candidate Argument for “Analogous Talent:  The concept of “analogous talent” means you have a depth and breadth of understanding of the core subject that will translate quickly to a similar target environment.  The very function of learning an established method-process-concept means you don’t have the bad habits and old-school presumptions that are controlled in part by legacy, and that can galvanize a clarified approach.  Stress your proven utility.

Consider a twelve person team where “everybody” has an MCSE or a CFA or is Order of the Coif… perhaps a smart and capable candidate who is not so specifically brain-trained will bring fresh insight, and outrigger balance, to the group-think.

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