Wednesday, January 28, 2009

We're missing half the equation

Matching the right person with the right job has two main components, one focused on the employer, the other on the applicant:

#1) A careful analysis of the job by the employer to identify the critical tasks and essential KSAs/competencies. This allows us to develop selection mechanisms that filter applicants to identify the most qualified.

#2) An accurate and thorough description of the job so the applicant can decide if there is a good match between the job and their qualifications.

We tend to do a pretty good job on #1. But many of us completely fall down when it comes to #2. We assume that the job and the organization have been described sufficiently so that applicants--qualified and not--can properly select in and out. But I think we're deluding ourselves.

Ask yourself this: What do you do to make sure applicants have a feel for the job? Let's think about this like we might a selection mechanism, from least to most fidelity:

(a) Describe the job/organization using text description of duties and qualifications
(b) Describe the job as above, also include benefits and "what's in it for you"
(c) Same as above, plus pictures of the work environment
(d) Same as above, plus other multi-media like videos and podcasts

(e) Same as above, plus Web 2.0 engagement strategies, like employee blogs
(f) Allow the applicants to perform simulated job duties online
(g) Alllow applicants to perform simulated job duties in person offsite
(h) Allow the applicants to perform actual job duties on the job site

I'll bet most of us would say (a) and (b) are standard, we have (c) on a good day, and we're moving slowly toward (d) and maybe (e). But this is, frankly, insufficient. The modern job seeker has access to a mountain of information--but desperately lacks information from the horse's (employer's) mouth. The reality is if you don't give it to them, someone else will.

What other benefits are there? Self-screening for one. The fewer unqualified people you have "in the pipe", the less time you waste screening out (not to mention the less time candidates waste, which they greatly appreciate).

By this point you might be wondering what these pictures are. They're from a children's museum I visited recently. They had all these leftover pieces of equipment for children to play with. Thing is, it was fun for the adults too. It gives you a real sense of what it would be like to sit in a helicopter, ride a police motorcycle, and drive a bus.

Why don't we have something like this geared toward adults? This goes way beyond an open house. It could be part of a career fair, or even better, employers would maintain a standalone site where applicants could get a clearer picture of what they'd be doing.

Now not everyone is going to be excited about a day in the life of a cubicle dweller, but everyone works somewhere--why aren't we doing a better job of explaining what it's like? Until we recognize the applicant's perspective, and the impact this has on getting the right person-job match, we're missing half of the equation.

Finally, for those of you that follow research,
here's a listing of journals; half focus on the employer, half more on the job seeker. Which ones do you typically read?

1 comment:

BryanB said...

Addendum: For a great example of realistic job previews, check out the Behind the Apron series over at Home Depot