How “hiring placeism” is costing your company the best recruits
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How often does it happen that a vital role is found vacant in your organization or company and you go about all the actions to fill it, and six months later it’s still not filled? You have done countless interviews, submitted dozens of candidates. And looking back you discover two or three that were just perfect but they weren’t hired because they lived in a different city or state? Or perhaps just didn’t go to the right college? You or your company may be suffering from “hiring placism”.  

“Hiring placism” is quickly becoming classified up there in evilness with racism and gender bias as an equally destructive mindset.  Even the definition of “placism” considers the inherent bias. Generally speaking, “placism” refers to the idea that certain types of individuals are simply better because of where they live, where they got their higher education or from whence they came, growing up.

So you find the perfect candidate and they didn’t get hired because they lived in a different state? Or because they didn’t go to the right college?

Let’s really look at this. You have this vital, important and totally necessary job that needs to be filled. Your company is losing potential income by the boatloads monthly. The job description looks something like,

“Needs to have 15 years experience in (any esoteric skill) and executive sales experience working in (such and such industry) for at least five of those years, including degrees from MIT, Stanford and Princeton (preferably Harvard Law as well). Is highly motivated and has a past success history of turning a company like (Blackberry) and making them into (Apple, Inc.)”.

Right. We all have these position with requirements like this. But okay, in six months you have reviewed thousands of resumes. And had countless one on ones with your boss begging, no pleading, for more lenient qualifications. But at the end, you still have no one, and it’s been six months. Now you are endlessly being hounded because that vacant hole is costing the company millions of dollars per year!

What’s worse is that you found two candidates who had all the skills, experience and history – including the damn Harvard Law degree but then your boss refused to pay for relocation (or they didn’t go to MIT) and the other company who paid the measly $10,000 grand, got them. Your company suffers from “Hiring Placism”. 

Fortune has a great article about placism, in it the author goes into some detail about it. However, let’s look deeper and see the actual cost of not hiring the right candidate and what it means to your company.  

The rule of thumb in hiring tends to be that the more specific and precise the job requirements are for a particular job, the more rare the candidate is and, like diamonds, are more valuable. Not only can value (and salary) be determined by how rare specific skill sets are but can be gauged on what other companies are willing to pay for the same position and the candidate to fill it.

Let’s take a position that isn’t as ridiculous as the above example, but is a mid-manager to executive level position. The position requires a specific tech background, sales and executive experience minimum. A common requirement for hiring managers to fill. Now consider there may be 500 potential individuals in the United States with that background. Consider perhaps that about 3% are either jobless or willing to consider a relocation. That is 15 individuals. Now consider you have to be able to find them and talk to them. Let’s say you can reach half of them. That is about 8 of them.

Now let’s assume that three of them are actual viable candidates. Right fit.  Perfect skill set. Loves your company and mission. Otherwise highly motivated. But they all live in a different state. Two of them have a wife or spouse that won’t relocate.  Which leaves one potential candidate. And your boss refuses to pay to relocate them? Or your boss thinks they won’t be the right fit because they grew up in Indiana? Or worse that they went not to MIT but to the Minneapolis Institute of Technology, and so obviously are not the right fit. So you lose them. And the search continues.

Now, let’s look at what this is costing your company:

If the person has proven with their experience and qualifications that they can do the job. And otherwise fits the bill in their ability to contribute the functions of the position, then any reason not hiring them is probably not a valid reason to overlook them (unless there is a better candidate, of course).

If where they live is the problem, and it often is, let’s suppose it takes $10,000 to move someone from any state to your state.

Now let’s say that position, filled, generates $100,000 in monthly net income. How much is your company losing by not at least trying to hire the guy or gal?  Are you starting to see the picture?  

So, next time your boss refuses to pay relocation fees for the right candidate, paint them the right picture and start curing “hiring placism” within your company.

At High End Hiring, we carefully review a job we are hired to fill, and from the onset ascertain with our clients whether they suffer from “hiring placism”. If they do, we cure it. It’s always better to hire the right candidate for the job than to leave the position vacant or worse to hire someone only because of where they went to do their studies.

Charles Harris
Computers will never fully replace humans in hiring
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The latest wave of data aggregate services in the recruitment space is an indication that the world of hiring is changing and changing in a way that will help companies find and choose a higher percentage of employees that fit into their corporate environment. Where these services are certainly a tool that Hiring Managers and other professional Recruiting Services can utilize, companies can ill afford to rely exclusively on these tools.

Like a hammer, these tools perform a function, but it’s the human element that determines their efficacy, much in the same way it takes a human to determine the strength with which to pound in that nail.

An article written in the New York Times, by Claire Ann Miller, called Can an Algorithm Hire Better Than a Human?, covers this subject well and concludes that a mix of both a data aggregate service and a human with judgement is where the future lies.  She states, “Data is just one tool for recruiters to use…”.

The article makes a very good point that algorithms can ignore the biases that commonly befall the recruitment process.  How well the recruiter gets long with the prospect, should have no bearing on their qualifications for a job in a different department.  What college they went to, and where they grew up or were born are rarely serious considerations for most jobs. And so it is true as well, with the more “dangerous” biases such a race, religion and sex.

The missing point of the article is that algorithms succeed at ignoring these biases not because they are algorithms and can’t “think and feel” these which is the argument, but in fact it is because the algorithms are separate from the corporate structure they are able to make recommendations based on performance and past history.  Again, it’s because these algorithms are separate from the business that they succeed in offering applicants and therefore can’t fall into the trap of calling biases “a difference in business culture” when it’s plain racism or perhaps not hiring a qualified woman because she is a woman, and due to an influence of “gender inequality” within the rank and file of the company.

Lest one envision a world where you type in your position requirements and two minutes later you receive three perfect applicants to your email inbox, consider the following aspects:

  1. Data aggregate services need to be programmed by humans, and humans that have experience in recruitment.
  2. Data aggregate services can only rely on data that is available to their algorithm both in terms of the applicant and your company.
  3. Data aggregate services work with data from the past and cannot know the direction and future of your company.

Let’s take each point, and expand upon them.

Data aggregate services need to be programmed by humans, humans who have experience in recruitment.

Humans posses the ability of judgement. They can determine relative importance between requirements and weigh an overall value of the person versus perhaps the time it may take to train them in a specific skill they may be missing. The right person hired, may not get the job when a month of training, would complete their skill set.  This takes judgement and the complexity of being able to program that sort of judgement into aggregate data services is still out of reach.

Data aggregate services rely on data that is available to their algorithm both in terms of the applicant and your company.

The elephant in the room regarding all these aggregate services, is that they are as reliable and accurate as the data fed. Aggregating data from Social Media and other places in the public domain can and does provide a methodology on where to start any prospective search, but the limitations to such a system become evident when considering that corporations and individuals rarely put forth in public domain information that would entail the full reality of the soft skills needed to work there. Websites such as Glassdoor, provide a forum for employees to list their experiences of working in any specific corporate environment and are a promise of opening the doors to the “real” inside scoop.  However, without validated and without sufficiently large datasets, these types of sites may (and probably do) skew the data.

Data aggregate services work with data from the past and cannot know the direction and future of your company.

The other facet of data aggregate services that must be taken into consideration, is that they work with datasets of information of the past of the corporation and of the individual.  Though the past is often an index and a part of analyzing the prospective applicant, a person tasked with hiring new employees would be advised to consider how new changes in management invariably change the corporate environment or how changes in market conditions can also dictate the pace of the company therefore changing and rendering less important various factors of corporate culture of the past.

As to an individual past, it suffices to point out, that almost anyone knows stories and examples of individuals getting a position and finally succeeding where before he was never a good fit, and reversely that candidate who has the perfect qualifications and history, failing miserably in his new environment.

In summary, new hiring data aggregate services offer a promise of being able to offer qualified potential recruits.  If one takes into consideration that the candidate or position would encompass a person generally disposed to being on the internet, using Social Media and otherwise not a private person, these can help in the search.  But algorithmic based computer logic will never replace the human element that encompasses such qualities as intuition, judgement and the ability to factor in the intangibles.

Professional recruitment firms, like my own, in Hiring End Hiring, have years of accumulated knowledge that helps choose applicants with the proper soft skills, experience and other qualifications.  We have an 85% successful placement and long-term hiring rate based on this experience and to which no robot can hope to replace.

Charles Harris
Hackers attack Employers during Applicant Process
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On May 11, 2015, Joseph Steinberg, wrote the article for Forbes, regarding hackers targeting employers.  In this article, he delineates the very real threat that Hiring Managers and others responsible for hiring face when accepting resumes and other documents automatically online.  As he alludes to, hackers use this form of infecting corporate networks with trojans and other malware in order to use as a botnet network or to steal information.  Insidiously, as the document was accepted manually and opened, the receiver is usually unaware of any infection. The article lists several steps to undertake that will provide greater security for those in hiring that must receive documents on any automatic basis.  Below are the top steps that will help you keep better security:

  • Avoid receiving Word Documents, but require the documents to be in PDF form which is more secure.
  • Do not click on any short links to Social Media profiles or websites, but have the candidates spell out the entire URL and then rather than click on it from the email, get into the habit of writing it out in the browser address bar.
  • Do not trust emails through a 3rd party job postings aggregator, such CareerBuilder.com.  Respect security protocols with any emails and documents coming from these sites.

I encourage you to read the full article as even Mr. Stenberg suggests that using a hiring service such as High End Hiring, is a better way to go to avoid these issues.

Charles Harris
Don’t advertise your salary range and therefore don’t hire the best people
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What do Hiring Agencies know that Hiring Managers don’t seem to know about publishing salary ranges for positions that need to be filled?  

Hiring Agencies know that the most qualified applicants (for that particular position) will tend to apply to and get hired by companies that publish salary ranges because the salary range istotally indicative of the type of job it is.  

A quick search on indeed.com for “Sales Managers in New York” will illustrate this. At the time of this article, only one of the results has a salary denoted. The rest didn’t. That listing was from a Hiring Agency and the rest were corporate hiring managers.

Hiring Agencies typically hire a higher volume of personnel than most Hiring Managers hire for their respective companies or divisions. Through experience hiring agencies know that candidates will select where they want to apply with the salary ranges depicted because it is their most important factor and because it best describes the level of job that it is.

Hiring Managers may argue they want leverage and that they want to have the upper hand. But why? Give them too low a salary and they’ll leave anyway, once they discover they could have been paid more.

The moral of the story is disclose your salary ranges on all postings and get better candidates who are exactly matched to the job. Your time is too valuable to waste on needless resumes trying to temper unreal expectations. By treating your recruitment process transparently you are saying much about your company – a fact not lost to candidates.

At High End Hiring we post in various outlets depending on the job, and we make sure to indicate a salary or pay range.  It helps us help you with only qualified individuals and the best individuals for your company.

Charles Harris