Hiring the Right Workers

Posted on October 7, 2006  Comments (14)

The job market is an inefficient market. There are many reasons for this including relying on specification (this job requires a BS in Computer Science – no Bill Gates you don’t meet the spec) instead of understanding the system. Insisting on managing by the numbers even when the most important figures are unknown and maybe unknowable. Using HR to find the right person to work in a process they don’t understand (which reinforces the desire to focus on specifications instead of a more nuanced approach). The inflexibility of companies: so if a great person wants to work 32 hours a week – too bad we can’t hire them. And on and on.

At first I titled this post the Hiring Process but that creates a analytic view of the hiring process separated from the important part which is workers actually working. The hiring process just provides resources that are needed. But in many places it is the reverse, the hiring process provides resources and then the rest of the process deals with that output as best it can.

Seth Godin had a very good post recently, The end of the job interview:

Instead, spend those seven hours actually doing the work. Put the person on a team and have a brainstorming session, or design a widget or make some espressos together. If you want to hire a copywriter, do some copywriting. Send back some edits and see how they’re received.

If the person is really great, hire them. For a weekend. Pay them to spend another 20 hours pushing their way through something. Get them involved with the people they’ll actually be working with and find out how it goes. Not just the outcomes, but the process. Does their behavior and insight change the game for the better? If they want to be in sales, go on a sales call with them. Not a trial run, but a real one. If they want to be a rabbi, have them give a sermon or visit a hospital.

If that works, great. If not, I have not thought up any magic formula. I think the process needs to be seen as part of the overall system of the company. Creating silos between HR and others might be the easiest way to do things but I don’t think it is the best.

Hiring is one of the area I think we could use some real innovation. I think much more flexibility would help. For individual companies often the best thing you can do is to greatly increase your focus on making employees feel valued and worthwhile (thus decreasing turnover and keeping you from entering the inefficient market).

A more thorough hiring process I also think is wise (for many jobs). But that is difficult when people look at the hiring process as waste (which it can be looked at with good reason too). Reducing the resources spent on hiring is a good idea, as long as the results are not impacted. However, it seems to me that the visible waste (time and money spent on the hire process) is seen as the only waste and the much more difficult to see waste of hiring the wrong people is ignored.

Your IT Company’s Biggest Enemy by Christopher Diggins

So why did I have such trouble finding work? Well three reasons.

1. Recruiters don’t know anything about programming and are ignorant of virtually everything related to software development. Many hadn’t even heard of Boost, O’Reilly, or the C++ Users Journal. They didn’t understand the significance of my credentials.
2. Recruiters view my freelance experience as a negative point, even though they say they want “self-motivated independent problem solvers”. Apparently I am too independent!
3. I only computed two years of a university degree in computer science.

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14 Responses to “Hiring the Right Workers”

  1. Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog » Respect for Workers
    November 4th, 2006 @ 2:53 pm

    […] NPR podcast: Pay Helps Keep Workers at Western Burger Chain. I discussed a related matter in Hiring the Right Workers, by paying more the overall system of hiring and managing people may well be optimized. […]

  2. Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog » Interviewing and Hiring Programmers
    January 11th, 2007 @ 11:06 pm

    […] A very worthwhile read. I discussed some of these ideas in: Hiring the Right Workers. […]

  3. CuriousCat: How Much Value Should You Give to the College a Job Applicant Attended?
    September 6th, 2007 @ 8:45 am

    “There’s a lot of randomness in how colleges select people, and what they learn there depends much more on them than the college. Between these two sources of variation, the college someone went to doesn’t mean a lot.”

  4. CuriousCat: Internships Increasing
    June 8th, 2008 @ 3:47 pm

    The summer posts allow students to bolster their resumes, learn more about their field of choice and meet executives who could hire them for full-time positions one day…

  5. CuriousCat: Management Improvement Jobs
    June 25th, 2008 @ 8:28 am

    Curious Cat Management Improvement Careers provides a source of jobs targeted to those interested in this blog.

  6. Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog » Hiring the Right Person
    September 2nd, 2008 @ 12:21 pm

    […] Challenge of Hiring in the Modern World. As usually, he provides some great thoughts. I wrote on Hiring the Right Workers The job market is an inefficient market. There are many reasons for this including relying on […]

  7. Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog » Seth Godin: Intern Program and the Internet
    September 3rd, 2008 @ 10:11 am

    […] post and the advice echoes his advice on hiring: the End of the Job Interview. We have an internship directory, that helps people find opportunities (and those with internships […]

  8. Bob Parsons
    September 16th, 2008 @ 1:02 pm

    I like your article.. Way too many inefficiencies in today's job market.

  9. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » The Software Developer Labor Market
    April 10th, 2009 @ 10:00 am

    […] H-1B visas make reasonable arguments and this testimony is a good presentation of those arguments. This obsession with specific skills is unwarranted. What counts is general programming talent – hiring smart people – not experience with specific […]

  10. Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog » Improving the Recruitment Process
    July 3rd, 2010 @ 8:31 am

    […] have thought the recruiting process for hiring staff was very inefficient. I still think it is very inefficient. I mean that, not only do companies waste time or resources […]

  11. Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog » Dee Hock on Hiring
    August 16th, 2010 @ 11:14 am

    Dee Hock: “Hire and promote first on the basis of integrity; second, motivation; third, capacity; fourth, understanding; fifth, knowledge; and last and least, experience.”

  12. Networking is Valuable But Difficult to Quantify » Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog
    October 11th, 2011 @ 9:38 am

    […] those that have opportunities and give you a decent shot at a job. A big reason this works is that the job market is very inefficient – thus networking can greatly increase your odds (if it were efficient this would matter much […]

  13. Manufacturing Skills Gap or Management Skills Gap? » Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog
    November 7th, 2011 @ 11:09 am

    […] recruiting has the worst case of focusing on silly skills that are really not important to hiring the right people, but this also can affect manufacturing […]

  14. Software Tester Value – Inefficient Labor Market — Hexawise
    January 14th, 2014 @ 7:55 am

    […] process used to hire employees is inefficient in general and even more inefficient for knowledge work. Justin Hunter, Hexawise CEO, posted the following […]

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