Does long hiring processes drive better results?

I have interacted with two companies in the last couple of months that have very distinct cultures.  This in itself isn’t unique, however their approach to hiring as a means to make sure they find the right people is much longer and more intensive that I’ve seen before.

The first is a game development company based on the west coast.  This company has an incredibly flat organizational structure and has an incredible pool of very talented software engineers working there.  They have a handful of senior managers and tech leaders, but it is individuals who drive how they want to lead.  It seems you excel by stepping up and offer to fill a gap, find a solution, rally the troops.  The team members I interacted with definitely play hard and work hard.  They work late, the play their own games and work on side projects to resolve real technology issues.

The second is a consulting company based on the east coast.  This company works with clients to solve really complex business problems.  They also hire very smart people and encourage them to find their path and expand into the role they want.  It was very bluntly stated that this company is a relationship company.  If you do not make a personal connection, you will never successfully get passed the systematic screening.  This applies for both jobs and business partnerships.

Both of these organizations have interesting hiring practices.  Recommendations from existing employees goes a long way to getting you in the door, but it is not the end of the process.  The gaming company has a 4-6 month interview and decision making process.  The consulting company has a 6-8 month interview and decision making process.  And this is for people who have established the connections and deemed worthy of an initial look.  Multiple phone and in person interviews occur.  I’m sure there are situational questions and aptitude tests that go along with this. The gaming company requires a unanimous vote from everyone that participated in the interview process.

This all seems a little bit crazy but I guess it is not, especially if it works.  Both companies believe strongly in their process. As I heard from the consulting company many people stay for extended periods of employment in a time where this becomes less common.  The gaming company is younger, but seems to have fairly little turnover among their ranks.

Should other companies follow the leads of these companies? I’m not sure.  I’ve always thought that hiring quickly and firing more quickly were better approaches. I wonder if that’s because my background tends to be with smaller companies where there is more immediate need versus luxury of forward-thinking?  Is there a certain culture or structure that this works best in?

Technology and the Job Search

Today I had the pleasure of participating in a panel discussion on using social media to find a job.  I took a slightly different approach and wanted to highlight what is going on in the job market related to employment and skills from both a job seeker and recruiter awareness perspective.  Additionally, I wanted to provide some concrete tips to attendees on using technology to stand out, which could have immediate impact.  This post is my general commentary to go along with the slide deck (posted up on slideshare: Technology and the Job Search).

What’s wrong with the job economy?  It is a fact that the economy is growing very slowly, which means people are getting jobs slowly and the unemployment rate is stagnating.  It is also a fact that this breeds frustration.  We see and hear this constantly, from friends or associates who are actively searching.  Yet we also hear from companies who insist that they cannot find qualified candidates. Something has to be able to explain it.  Is it:

  • Unreasonable expectations?

There is an abundance of information easily available today.  Jobs are posted online and off.  Have we made it so easy to find and apply for jobs that we no longer spend the time to find the right opportunities?  In “Why you Keep Applying for the Wrong Jobs”, Vivian Giang wrote “Job Seekers spend an average of 49.7 seconds deciding that a job isn’t right for them, and an average of 76.7 seconds if they feel the posting matches their interest and skills.  They were only able to identify good fits at a rate of 38%.”  This might help account for why hundreds of resumes are being submitted for each job and why you might not have gotten that call back. 

This is not to say that job seekers maintain all the fault here.  Job titles vary wildly and job descriptions can be quite cumbersome and difficult to discern what you will actually need to do. Furthermore, recruiters are making decisions even more rapidly.  They are only spending 6-7 seconds on resumes or online profiles (Weber).  70% have passed on candidates because of what they find online (Hopkins 06/18/13).

  • Fictional jobs?

After seeing the same job posted on 3 different job boards, linkedin, twitter and the company site for months, you start to think that these jobs do not really exist.  This is especially true in DC, where so many companies are government contractors.  You start believing that this were listed to solely collect resumes or meet government requirements.  I suspect some of that is true.  But, I also suspect that the jobs exist and in many cases, are being filled.  They are just being filled by internal transitions or lateral job moves. According to Lou Adler (“Hire Economics” 6/12/13), 45% of jobs are being filled by networking and an additional 10% by internal moves.  My experience tells me jobs are out there.  The challenge is finding the right job through the right person, at the right time.  80% of jobs are found through networking (Hopkinson 6/18/13).

  • Skills gaps?

While I do think parts of the country suffer incredibly from the skills gap, as a whole I believe there are people who have the skills to fill open jobs.  This gets complicated by many of the issues raised above.

How should technology play into your job search?

This is the fundamental question.  Technology is a tool, that if used correctly, can help you.  The opposite is true as well – If you use technology incorrectly, it will hinder you and in some case severely hurt you.

  • Research

We have a wealth of information at our finger tips.  Corporate websites give you a wealth of information about what companies do, but sites like LinkedIn, Glassdoor and others provides you that endorsement of the organization by others.  You should be heavily relying on your network, through LInkedIn and Twitter to keep up to date on industry and organization changes.  These are great ways to figure out where organizations are going to be available for those one-on-one interactions (job fairs, forums, open houses, etc). 

You may also want to come at this from the opposite angle as well.  Look to your network for feedback and commentary about organizations they are interacting.  You may find an interest somewhere outside the scope of where you might be inclined to look.

  • Cultivate your online presence

Your online presence is an extension of you.  It is what people can find after interacting with you.  This could have been as a result of a meeting, hearing you ask a question at an event, an interview, your resume, etc.  This is your opportunity to influence your network and showcase your skills and expertise.  Do this as much or as little as you want.  Start by figuring out how you want to present yourself.  Make sure it aligns with your skills, but plan for the opportunity you want, not your position today.

Next figure out how much you want to invest.  It is time consuming to manage your social presence. The more you participate across LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc the more difficult it becomes.  I have made a personal decision that LinkedIn is where I share industry information related to what I am specifically doing and management or business articles that I think my network would find interesting.  I have joined groups related to my current or former professional experience  (i.e. consumer product goods, alumni groups, technology, innovation) as well as my external interests (i.e. my association to Women in Technology “WIT” and role as Co-Chair of Workforce Development as it relates to job groups).  I am also on Twitter, but I use that to primarily share my interests of women & girls in technology, and startups.  In both, I highlight upcoming events mostly related to WIT.  These are things that interest me as a professional, but are not what I am looking to showcase as my primary focus.  I’m first a technology & operations executive who is interested in issues impacting women & girls and startups.

The most important thing you can do is google yourself.  See what comes up!  Hopefully it will be you and it will be something positive.  One simple thing you can do to improve these results is to make sure you are customizing everything.  Take advantage of LinkedIn’s custom URL instead of the random alpha-numeric assignment.  Use your name in your email domain, blog, and social media sites. 

  • Tag cloud generators

This is my geeky tip for the day, and one of the best pieces of advice I have seen.  If you google “tag cloud generator” you will find all these free web apps that will allow you to plug in content and it will give you a visual representation of words in the content, highlighting the most frequently used words as compared to the least frequent.  This will allow you to look at a single job description and figure out what the “right” key words are, in order to customize your resume and improve your probability of being looked.  I can also see this as a means of looking at several different job descriptions for the same general position and figuring out how to position yourself – what skills do you highlight; what topics do you focus your time on to showcase your expertise.

The bottom line

At the end of the day, technology is merely a tool to help you.  It will not solve all your problems.  It can enhance your position, showcase your expertise and keep your skills fresh on your network’s mind.  According to Lou Adler (“Hire Economics” 6/12/13), you should “spend 20% of the time responding to job postings by going through the back door rather than applying through the front, another 20% ensuring your resume and LinkedIn profile are easy to find and worth reading, and the remaining 60% networking to find jobs in the hidden market.”

Please remember to respect yourself and your network.  Don’t tell me what you had for breakfast or the big party you threw last weekend.  Provide me with valuable information and insights.  Initiate contact with new people you meet but make sure to give them a point of reference and guidance on why you want to connect.  You should extend this same thoughtfulness around those who ask you to connect.  Do not just accept everyone.  Associate yourself with people you want to be associated with.