There is something that occurred to me recently. I am getting constant unsolicited phone calls and emails from recruiting companies from all over the country looking to see I am interested in positions that are absolutely not a match for what I do. Number One, I am not looking for their help. Number Two they're contacting me for reasons that I feel are silly. They're asking me if I am interested in teaching ballet dancing while I am in fact a power lifting coach. It's not that there is no information about me online: I have deployed enough digital assets that I feel like those who send me those requests are either stupid or just plain lazy. So I started to ask myself: What if the entire recruiting industry was a fraud? Like, how many recruiters have actually, hired someone? If the answer was to be "a few" then it would be like we have an entire industry of actors who have ... well ... never acted. No wonder it's not working. -By Philippe Mora (@philippemora)
Hong-Kong, <05/02/14> - Let's first talk about the resume, the 300lbs dinosaur in the room. I am wondering how it is possible in 2014 that someone who has never hired is in position to make decisions on someone's ability to successfully contribute to a company just by glancing (yes, glancing) at a piece of paper. Further, this pathetic exercise resembles to people having the arrogance to say they'll have a good idea about an actor by just looking at the list of movie's they've been cast in, while never, ever, having watched any of those movies. And who would have an opinion about acting, while never, ever, having acted. I did a test one day: applied as with Marissa Meyer's resume to a position at google for an engineering position at gmail. Got politely rejected in about 2 days. Bwahahah. Second, the recruiting process is broken because the gatekeepers, i.e. the recruiters, are either incompetent, or stuck in the previous century or both. It's not they are stupid, but they are cast in positions they're not qualified for in the first place. Who would want to hire a plumber who has no idea about plumbing? Well, that is the current status of the recruiting industry today. And software automation added another layer of utter non-sense. And to make things worse, there's no one to question their competency because the only ones who care about this are actually the job seekers, and those are terrified of even daring to question the professionalism of the gatekeepers for fear of losing the ever elusive "opportunity". Self fulfilling prophecy.
So what is the solution? We are wired to be attracted to future potential, not past achievements. As a result, we need to completely change the way we match supply and demand in the workforce. Resume needs to go. Today there are plenty of tools available online to successfully brand oneself. And we're not talking about Linked In. As a creative and knowledge professional, you need to go past the online resume or google plus profile and at least have your own personal anchor (in the form of a landing page) and a portfolio that shows your creativity. May include blogs, slideshares, youtube, Facebook pages and other things. But the bottom line is that there is nothing that prevents you from deploying enough digital assets online that nobody has any excuse not to know who you are and what you do. Second, at-will employment needs to be challenged. I have posted about the Tours Of Duty concept in the past: Tours of Duty, aka project-based assignments do work better. There are pioneers in that new way of getting things done. One of them is Automattic, the makers of wordpress (see the story here) and Hughes Creative (Note: I am a founding partner of Hughes Ventures, the owner of Hughes Creative). Those startups have understood that the industrial era and its ways have ended. Let's be hopeful that others are going to wake up and follow suit very soon.
There is no shortage of advice out there on how to make a good impression — an impression good enough to land you a new job, score a promotion, or bring in that lucrative sales lead. Practice your pitch. Speak confidently, but not too quickly. Make eye contact. And for the love of Pete, don’t be modest — highlight your accomplishments. After all, a person’s track record of success (or a company’s, for that matter) is the single most important factor in determining whether or not they get hired. Or is it?
As it happens, it isn’t. Because when we are deciding who to hire, promote, or do business with, it turns out that we don’t like the Big Thing nearly as much as we like the Next Big Thing. We have a bias — one that operates below our conscious awareness — leading us to prefer the potential for greatness over someone who has already achieved it.
A set of ingenious studies conducted by Stanford’s Zakary Tormala and Jayson Jia, and Harvard Business School’s Michael Norton paint a very clear picture of our unconscious preference for potential over actual success.
In one study, they asked participants to play the role of an NBA team manager who had the option of offering a contract to a particular player. To evaluate the player, they were given five years of excellent statistics (points scored, rebounds, assists, etc.) These statistics were described either as ones that the player had actually earned in five years of professional play, or as projections of how he was capable of playing (i.e., his potential) in his first five years.
Then the “managers” were asked, “What would you pay him in his sixth year?” Those who evaluated the player with potential for greatness said they would pay him nearly a million dollars more in annual salary ($5.25 vs. $4.26 million) than those who evaluated the player with a record of actualgreatness. Potential evaluators also believed their player would score more, and would be more likely to make the All-Star team.
Tormala, Jia, and Norton found the same pattern when they looked at evaluations of job candidates. In this case, they compared perceptions of someone with two years of relevant experience who scored highly on a test of leadership achievement, versus someone with no relevant experience who scored highly on a test of leadership potential. (Both candidates had equally impressive backgrounds in every other way). Evaluators believed the candidate with leadership potential would be more successful at the new company than the candidate with a proven record of leadership ability. (Incidentally, if you ask the evaluators to tell you whose resume is more impressive, they agree that it’s the one with experience. They still prefer the other guy anyway.)
In other studies, the researchers showed how we prefer artwork and artists with potential to win awards over those that actually have, and prefer restaurants and chefs with the potential to be the next big thing in dining over the ones who have already made their name. In a particularly clever study, they compared two versions of Facebook ads for a real stand-up comedian. In the first version, critics said “he is the next big thing” and “everybody’s talking about him.” In the second version, critics said he “could be the next big thing,” and that “in a year, everybody could be talking about him.” The ad that focused on his potential got significantly more clicks and likes.
And this is not, incidentally, a pro-youth bias in disguise. It’s true that the person with potential, rather than a proven record, is sometimes also the younger candidate — but the researchers were careful to control for age in their studies and found that it wasn’t a factor.
So, since preferring potential over a proven record is both risky and inherently irrational, why do we do it? According to these findings, the potential for success, as opposed to actual success, is more interesting because it is less certain. When human brains come across uncertainty, they tend to pay attention to information more because they want to figure it out, which leads to longer and more in-depth processing. High-potential candidates make us think harder than proven ones do. So long as the information available about the high-potential candidate is favorable, all this extra processing can lead (unconsciously) to an overall more positive view of the candidate (or company). (That part about the information available being favorable is important. In another study, when the candidate was described as having great potential, but there was little evidence to back that up, people liked him far less than the proven achiever.)
All this suggests that you need a very different approach to selling yourself than the one you intuitively take, because your intuitions are probably wrong. People are much more impressed, whether they realize it or not, by your potential than by your track record. It would be wise to start focusing your pitch on your future, as an individual or as a company, rather than on your past — even if that past is very impressive indeed. It’s what you could be that makes people sit up and take notice — learn to use the power of potential to your advantage.
[Read More Here > Thank You HBR April 2014]
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