Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My Comments on the Hiring Process Today #1

Years ago a headhunter called me. He received my name from the OM at a company I was working for as seasonal help. (One day the OM said to me, "I'd never want to have you working for me." Rather than take offense, I asked him, 'why not?' He said, "Because I'd always be afraid you have my job." Okay, I was young and less restrained--Theory X and all that.)

I found out, in talking to the headhunter, that he'd been VP at the company I was working for. He'd set up the operation where I worked. We talked about the "personnel director." He said to me, "When we were in New York, she was not allowed outside the personnel area." To be accurate: 'She was not allowed to leave personnel'.

Today, personnel is Human Resources. As I research, I check ads for HR directors. Obviously, HR is no longer personnel. It is a separate industry within an industry that is its own product. Call me old fashioned, but I think HR should be separated from personne--analogous to your primary care physician sending you to a 'medical care facility'. To say that in English, your Doctor is your Doctor. If you need tests, you go to hospital. Personnel should be personnel. If you need the services of HR, you go to HR.

Now, to the subject of hiring. I must have been charming when I was younger. For my first real job, one of the partners took me to lunch, saw I went to Seton Hall and Georgetown, and spent the lunch talking about basketball. The second real job, the same thing. When I decided to "drop out" and write the great American novel, I applied for a job as a security guard. The same thing happened. (The irony is, no one who went to Seton Hall and Georgetown knows less about basketball than I do.) Later on in life, when I gave myself a sabbatical to go back to my novel, I applied for a part-time job in a store where I was a regular customer. The owner hired me. He didn't even know my last name.

To improve hiring, you have to dump the process into the laps of the people the candidate will be working for. That person has to be able to determine if the candidate qualifies. No, that's wrong. The person "...has to be able to determine if the candidate can do the job." Slight difference? No. Big difference.

ps. When I was a security guard (I am incorrigible) I wrote up a management training programme. I gave it to a co-worker who handed it in to management. They implemented the programme. He was the first candidate. I was happy for him. This was not going to be my career, but it might well have turned out to be his. Also, it was a good programme. My pride (goeth before the fall) came from having the programme implemented, not in my getting credit for it. As Lord Byron once said, "Fame is the thirst of youth."

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