First let me start by saying this article does not reference any statistics quoted from questionable online sources. Instead I’m speaking from nearly 20 years of experience as part of fortune 500 companies and successful startups. My experiences, revolving around hiring talent; have been echoed by peers countless times serving as anecdotal confirmation. I understand the challenges with anecdotal information but in this case let’s look past that and consider the message.
The message to focus on is that finding and hiring talent is harder than it should be! There are thousands of people graduating from degree and certificate programs, thousands of people currently in the workforce looking for new opportunities, and thousands of people networking and searching for opportunities online. With this much supply of talented candidates it should be easy to find a match. There are countless tools available; career boards, career focused social sites, HR services, recruiters, etc.
Why then is it so difficult to hire new talent?
Here are six quick reasons:
Let me explain.
I’m sure this varies widely but in many of my experiences each job posting received a stack of resumes far greater than any hiring manager had time to review. To assist in this task the HR department would offer resources to cull the list to only those resumes that appeared to be the best fit. This gives the impression that after all of these reviews, screens, and pre-checks the end result should be a handful of resumes that fit exactly what you’re looking to hire.
Unfortunately that is rarely the case. What you are typically left with are candidates that have maybe 40–60% of the skills and experience desired.
Resumes are meant to impress and catch the attention of hiring managers. As a result everyone makes sure to include all of the latest terms and phrases that are buzzing through their specific industry. How dare someone use the phrase Data & Analytics Modeler as opposed to Data Scientist… That will surely cause your resume to wind up in the trash pile.
“Resumes are an exercise in word matching and vanity rather than clarity and depth. You simply can’t have confidence just because the words are there.” — George Earl
Once you’ve whittled the list of candidates down to a reasonable number for phone screens and interviews, you are faced with the challenge of confirming skills and experience. Resumes serve as a moderate outline for the discussion. Depending on a number of factors interviews range widely in their level of engagement and depth. Some last for a couple hours while others may span several days. The latter is typically reserved for senior leadership roles. However the challenge still remains the same; you must confirm the candidates skills and experience.
Achieving this goal is difficult. Some folks are better speakers than others, some get nervous and can’t communicate as effectively as they otherwise would, and some are skilled at talking up their abilities beyond what they can actually execute. There are options available to assess and quantify skills and experience but typically they lack the breadth and depth to truly augment the review process.
At the end of the day interviews are best for identifying cultural fit…
It is inevitable that after all of the candidate pre-screening, resume reviews, and due diligence you will always have several resumes that don’t quite match the requirements of the position. You are then left with the never fun exercise of adapting your job specifications to match your current pool of candidates.
This typically doesn’t end well…
This one is a bit self-critical. We as the hiring managers do not always make the best effort in writing out job specifications. Sometimes we get lazy or maybe pass the task off to someone that doesn’t fully understand how the position relates to the businesses needs nor the skills required for the position. This is how you can end up with a position description that includes every skill under the sun and a responsibilities list that’s longer than your graduate school dissertation.
In these cases the fault is on us…
This one is not as straight forward as the others. Here I’m referring to the systems by which candidates are sourced; job boards and recruiting services. These services in most cases specialize on a macro level which leads to the old saying “jack of all trades, master of none”. Because of this broad focus your position connects with far too many candidates that are a general match.
There are however some niche job boards and recruiting firms that work to solve for this challenge.
Overall this list speaks to many of the challenging factors in hiring candidates. Some are more or less pronounced based on the type of position and seniority. Unfortunately there are not many easy solutions. Useful options include the standard list of activities such as becoming more active in the social community for your career focus and industry, donating time as a speaker and educator to meet new talent and bolster networking, and participating within committees and boards of relative functions. Hopefully you have plenty of free time.
Thanks for reading.
About the Author: My name is Ion King and I am the Chief Officer at Corsair's Ventures. My focus is on helping others passionate about growing careers in Data Science & Analytics achieve their goals. Connect with me on LinkedIn or find more of my articles on medium
(images: Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash)