In a recent blog post I made the contention that the public job market is frozen due to too much emphasis on compensation and skills, and too little on past performance and future potential. The problem is that job-seekers and talent hunters alike establish their buying criteria before the know much about what the other party is selling. Worse, this criteria is largely irrelevant in either party’s final decision. In its current condition the public job market is dysfunctional, creating rise to a poorly regulated hidden job market that is equal in size, and growing more rapidly.
We’re conducting a survey (now underway) to better understand the buying criteria active and passive job-seekers use to initially engage in a conversation with a company and for comparing and accepting offers. This should help companies do a better job of crafting their initial conversations and for attracting the right types of people in both the public and hidden job markets.
Based on over 500 personal negotiations with a mid- and senior level managers, my contention is that once a top candidate fully appreciates the scope of what’s being offered he or she will relegate compensation to third or fourth on the priority list. Based on the same experiences, I contend that companies will modify the job and/or offer better packages to attract a top performer. Unfortunately, too many companies and job-seekers alike close the door by stating their demands upfront as a condition to proceed with an exploratory discussion. If you’ve read anything about the Israeli/Palestinian crisis, you know that closing the door before it’s opened is a sure way to prevent progress. The current public job market is no different.
The purpose of the survey will be to determine if job-seekers, whether active or passive and fully-employed or not, are willing to be flexible when they have full knowledge of the job at hand. However, even with this flexibility companies need to be more flexible on how they write job descriptions and filter candidates. This is perhaps the bigger challenge.
Some readers of my earlier posts suggest that SKAs (skills, knowledge, abilities) must be spelled out in order to remain in compliance, so their hands on tied. I contend this is a HR excuse. Here’s why. As part of the research for The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired I asked one of the top attorneys at the premier U.S. labor law (Littler) firm to assess the validity of using performance-based job descriptions in lieu of traditional skills-infested job descriptions. Following is David Goldstein’s summary and a link to his full white paper:
By creating compelling job descriptions that are focused on key performance objectives, using advanced marketing and networking concepts to find top people, by adopting evidence-based interviewing techniques, and by integrating recruiting into the interviewing process, companies can attract better candidates and make better hiring decisions.
Nevertheless, because the Performance-based Hiring system does differ from traditional recruiting and hiring processes, questions arise as to whether employers can adopt Performance-based Hiring and still comply with the complex array of statutes, regulations, and common law principals that regulate the workplace. The answer is yes. In particular:
- A properly prepared performance profile can identify and document the essential functions of a job better than traditional position descriptions, facilitating the reasonable accommodation of disabilities and making it easier to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and similar laws.
- Even employers that maintain more traditional job descriptions may still use performance profiles or summaries of performance profiles to advertise job openings. Employers are not legally required to post their internal job descriptions when advertising an open position. Nor is there any legal obligation to (or advantage in) posting boring ads.
- Under some circumstances, federal government contractors will want to include in their job postings, objective, non-comparative qualifications for the position to be filled. Using SMARTe, employers can create performance based job descriptions that include such objective, non-comparative elements. Requiring applicants to have previously accomplished specific tasks represents a selection criterion that is no less objective than requiring years of experience in some general area.
- Focusing on Year 1 and Beyond criteria may open the door to more minority, military, and disabled candidates who have a less “traditional” mix of experiences, thereby supporting affirmative action or diversity efforts.
- Conducting performance-based interviews ensures that the interviews will be structured and properly focused and minimizes the risk of an interviewer inquiring into protected characteristic. Moreover, since the performance-based interviews are conducted pursuant to a common methodology, one is assured that the candidates are being fairly compared.
- Performance-based interviewing promotes fair consideration of the different skills and experiences that each candidate has to offer – which is essential to promoting diversity.
Too many people in HR leadership roles make too many excuses about why things can’t be done rather than figuring out how to get things done. This may just be the biggest bottleneck of them all, and why the public job market will likely remain as dysfunctional as it’s always been.