When did we lose track of how to hire qualified and available people?

Alt Title: Your applicant screening process is probably causing you pain, and you don't know it.

Long ago in the dark ages when people applied for a job they filled out an application or sent in a résumé’. It was a simple process that involved paperwork and time. It wasn’t efficient for the most part; but it involved human interaction. 

Someone applied. Someone looked at that application and someone made a decision and ideally we communicated that to the person that actually took the effort to apply with us. We interacted.

At some point computers came into the world and we collectively found that efficiency was a good thing and we embraced the concept of it. It was a means to an end. After that we created systems and programs to accept electronic applications and we built data bases to store people in an electronic format.

We reduced staff from the overhead needed to hire people and in some cases we retained new vendors to outsource this exciting function to.

We celebrated our successes and didn’t notice that our interaction with applicants dropped substantially and all of a sudden we no longer had our finger on the pulse of the labor pool of qualified candidates. Whoops!

Overall it was a good move; it just got out of control and no one knows how to stop it now.

What grew from our good intentions were layers and layers of application processes, knock-out questions, screening questions, data gathering items and a plethora of other things that we thought made it better for us. Or did it?

What we forgot was how difficult we made it for a person to apply for a job. We made it difficult to fill our own positions.

We love to tout our Human Capital, our Employee Appreciation Programs, our Living Assets, or Most Prized Gifts, our Staff. What we don’t do is make it easy to get new and energetic applicants because our screening process has ruled out qualified people if they click the wrong button, if one of their answers doesn’t fall into our black and white database of acceptable responses. We closed the door before they could knock.

We tend to forget that the average applicant has to complete one of these arduous online applications for each company they are interested in. They have to create a new account, new user names, new passwords, fill out the same information and usually complete another application, again and again. We force them to spend time and they know that it is unlikely anyone will ever tell them what is actually going on outside of an emotionless and canned email the system sends them.

Yes, I am aware, some companies use the same vendor so the repetitive nature of this does not apply in all cases. But, go ahead and test this theory and ask someone in your next interview how much time they spent just filling out applications online to never actually hear from a real human. You probably will be more surprised than you think.

There is some analogy about the forest and the trees that may apply. Who knows…

I know this wave is the moment and of the future. It can also be fixed if we take action.

But we control how we use the tool. We control how we accept or reject online applications, and if you don’t know how it is done now, you simply aren’t seeing all of the qualified people applying for your positions. This is a problem waiting to rear its head.

Take a risk, contact people. Network through human interaction to locate qualified staff. By-pass some of the technology you have embraced. The upside is simple, your success can only improve.

If nothing else, the above rambling should be some snack for thought.