Nothing seems to have changed

There have been quite a few posts lately on LinkedIn about new work, and well, and all I think is ‘here we go again, all talk no action to reflect this.’ And there is reason for it; it takes a lot of risk for people and companies to truly give it a go.

First, much of the talk about ‘new work’ is around how people work and where. In other words, not needing to come into the office to work. And as much as this is important, and I will write some other think pieces about this, there is something else that needs to be addressed – how we hire. This has two components because there are two sides: how we apply and how we hire.

And here is where nothing seems to have changed.

Now I can only speak of 20 years in being part of this work world but I have tried a lot. I have been the seasonal worker, the shift worker, the office employer, the freelancer, and the entrepreneur.

For this think piece, what I want to address is the hiring process because I think if this can change and reflect the actuality of now, then how people apply for jobs will also create great collaborative outcomes.

It is important to remember that work is a collaboration; we all need each other for the bigger picture.

HR fears
I have some contacts who work in HR and I have ‘tested’ my theories on them only to receive the usual ‘yes, but (that isn’t how it works)….’ And I get that. I understand why they say this and much is actually to do with leadership and the fear of making a mistake.

First and foremost, we never know really who we are hiring and we never ever know what is going to happen. If you can start from that point, then the experiences will actually be a lot more enjoyable whatever the outcome. Those questions of  ‘where do you see yourself in five years?’ are completely pointless because nobody really knows. You could be offered a job that you truly intended to stay in, but something happens and well, things change. But I’ll get more into the interview side in later think pieces.

To reduce the risks, there are some things in the hiring process that help with this that not all companies use: 1) contacting references and 2) properly using the probationary period (country dependent).

If you really want to know a candidate talk to their references but think carefully about the questions you ask. Don’t ask questions that will confirm your thoughts about this person. Try and find ways to get an insight into the person’s character.

And why not be creative with the candidate. First, with the probationary period use it to really assess the new hire. This is a no-strings attached legal opportunity. And it’s not like you have to start the hiring process all over again if they don’t work out. Call up the other candidates. Second, you can make a short term contract or ask the candidate to work for a short period of time as a freelancer (or contractor) and include in the contract that this is open to a full time, permanent contract. In all these situations it allows both sides to ‘test’ each other out with no to little strings attached and it greats a sense of temporary stability. And this mental set up is always beneficial.

How people find jobs – based on job titles
But before you even hire, where I also have seen little to no change are the job titles. Few times does a job title really reflect what the person does in the job, and when I mean reflect, I include that it lacks any ‘meaning’. Companies are also trying to find ‘fun’ ways of titling jobs, don’t, it is not necessary. The title of jobs really isn’t going to say much about your brand experience as an employee in the company. Careful also, if you are inventing or using titles because they are ‘en mode’ especially if you actually don’t really know what those titles mean.

Now there are some positions that clearly are needed, clearly have a defined role. So I am not talking about those. Yet, still even in these positions, titles are very inconsistent. An executive in one company is an associate in another and a Vice President in Sales is one level in one company and a completely different status in another. So again, titles cannot just be stuck on. It also doesn’t help in the job searcher side.

So here is a little thought challenge: when hiring (looking for someone to join the team) is it necessary to have a job title?

Why this question? Because most people when searching for a job, they look at job title rather than search from a business perspective (i.e. sector, values, mission). So it means that a bunch of candidates don’t really care much for the business when they are applying. And this can be fine for some roles that require specific knowledge. But just realise, they’ve mostly applied for the job title and not the company. Again, this then comes down to who are you really looking for and why.

What would happen if companies, after being clear about the why and the type of person they need, could create an announcement that invites a wider pool of candidates? I mentioned this to a friend and she actually said that in one small business she was at, this was how they hired. They knew some skills they needed but the focus was on whether this person would work well with the team.
All the above is asking is for companies to put a little deeper thought about the whole picture. What this requires is what was mentioned at the beginning leadership and the removal of fear of making a mistake. By putting a little more time you can be creative in how to mitigate the fear. So fear of hiring the wrong person really has no grounds


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