Why Companies Need to Change Their Hiring Lens.


I had lunch the other day with an advertising agency owner.  I showed him some resumes of potential candidates for a position he had been trying to fill for a long time.

He scanned one with his finger and said that the person had only worked at some companies for a year.  He looked at me and said, “They move around a lot.”

He was acting like a client.

How can a person so young be so deeply rooted in the Old Normal I thought.    I have also heard that this agency has had a virtual revolving door for a key position.  What’s good for the goose is clearly not good for the gander apparently.

Instead I finished my lunch and had a stroll back to my car in the warm California air.  At least that pleasure is always egalitarian.

The Great Recession said unprecedented job losses yet many companies act as if nothing happened.

You want career longevity in the New Normal?  Then don’t fire ten million people.  Do you think those people were all losers?

I know many 28 year olds that have had four jobs.  Do they hop around?  Some do for sure.  You know why? Because salaries for many people have been kept low because employees have no choice but take a 2% salary increase and smile and go to the company picnic in a park.  At the same time their rents climb by 10% a year.

Also in the past if an agency lost an account the staffing cuts would spare junior people. It didn’t spare scaring them that bad things could happen at good places. They didn’t have a lot of experience with that but they learned the danger danger message.

No wonder I heard a story on NPR the other day that 34% of young people don’t want a job.

I got an e mail the other day from somebody that was let go from their agency after one year. Client budget cuts.  Her LinkedIn profile had it all.  Graduate from UCLA.  An MBA from UCI.  Employee of the Year at one company. Worked both on the agency and client side.  Plus the social currency of a history of volunteering.

She wrote “I moved around a lot involuntarily, due to lots of mergers and buyouts.”  Seems like now in her career life she bears the personal costs of those corporate maneuvers.  I wonder if hiring managers at those companies ever think of that.

I got a call the other day from a friend in the Silicon Valley.  I met him when he used to work in Southern CA. He has been working as a contractor for a number of years.  You know what’s different up here in Northern CA Hank. No I asked. Companies don’t care about how long you worked at places but what you can do.  The companies up here are often startups that flame out and then people move on.  You only get judged at how good you are at what you get hired for and not your past. That sounded like life in the New Normal.  Maybe I should have bought some Twitter stock.

The hiring lens of many companies has clouded up to the point that many are missing out on opportunity.  You can’t use the same criteria that you did ten years ago.  Ten years ago people found jobs in a newspaper.  The iPhone didn’t exist.

The biggest mistake that companies make that don’t change the way they hire today is that they may miss out on great talent that got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Maybe they will join your competitors.

Maybe those companies will grow and take share away from you.

Maybe somebody will tell you that they need to see you in their office at 3 on a Friday.

Maybe after the shock clears your attitude will change as you walk a few months or even a year in somebody else’s shoes?

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Read How What Young People Need to Do the First Time They Get Fired.

Watch What Makes A Great AE.


9 thoughts on “Why Companies Need to Change Their Hiring Lens.

  1. Sanjay Choudhuri

    Good perspective, Hank. And many recruiters (maybe not in Silicon Valley) are also stuck in this rut, because some of their clients demand it, and the client is king.

  2. Well, this time you came out “guns a blazin'” on this topic but deservedly so–for all the very legit points made. At the macro level of hiring there is very faulty thinking about hriring and at the micro level (determining proper job role and skills/talents to succeed) a constant lack of clear thinking and clear standards for the process that frustrate candidates and leave companies shortchanging themselves in their ability to build and sustain a quality team.

  3. Bruce MacDonald

    I think considering talented people as “assets” and using that term to describe them undermines the ability to motivate and retain team members. Until senior management has the experience necessary to develop teams that communicate with each other and with their supervisors this style of ” a burger a second” leadership is not likely to change.

    Leaders can not hide in their office and issue commands; but today that has become the “new normal”. It does not work.

    It can change with the correct people perspective by true leaders.

  4. Hello Hank,

    The best candidates may or may not be a good hire.
    • Competence is the King of job performance.

    • Talent is the Queen of job performance.

    • Potential is the Prince of job performance.

    • Education is the Princess of job performance.

    • Experience is the Court Jester of job performance.

    Competence and Talent rule job performance.

    There are many factors to consider when hiring talent but first we need to define talent unless “hiring talent” means “hiring employees.”

    Everyone wants to hire for talent but if we can’t answer the five questions below with specificity, we can’t hire for talent.

    1. How do you define talent?
    2. How do you measure talent?
    3. How do you know a candidate’s talent?
    4. How do you know what talent is required for each job?
    5. How do you match a candidate’s talent to the talent demanded by the job?

    Employers need to assess for:
    – Cultural Match (Cultural Fit)
    – Skills Match (Competence)
    – Job Match (Talent)

    Some employers assess for all three.

    Potential is identified during the Job Match evaluation.

    Read the following web page for a description of how to hire high-potential employees.


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