The Situation

In the past, the status quo approach to hiring has more or less worked. Companies focused on hiring for competencies: knowledge, skills and experience, or the briefcase. Mind you, the workplace during this time, we could say, was relatively stable and jobs relatively consistent.

Today’s business landscape is arguably more dynamic, complex, dare I say chaotic – creating a complicated challenge for job seekers and leaving a greater margin for error for employers in making hiring decisions.

Today, out of necessity, the conversation demands a shift from whether people not only have the right skills to do a job, but also consideration for whether people have the capacity to learn new ones, or how people think and make decisions in their head.

The Challenge

Mercer anticipates 65% of current primary school children will be in jobs that don’t even exist yet.

How can companies continue hiring using this strategy knowing past experience will be all but irrelevant for our future workforce not 15 years down the road?

In a 7-minute interview with Harvard Business Review, executive search adviser Claudio Fernández-Aráoz explains the inherent challenges we face today as people making hiring decisions (i.e. having the wrong brain, the wrong software, and the wrong focus) and why hiring for potential over past performance is critical to the future of business. If you’d like to read more from HBR on this idea, click here.

The key to matching talent with the right job hinges on determining what about the job can and cannot be taught, and assessing accordingly. It’s a 2017 version of the age-old nature versus nurture conflict.

The Science

The rub is this: while we are all human, we are each unique in our brain biology and our behaviors, and how they translate into the workplace. As our brains develop through our teen years, our neurons make connections to create mental pathways that eventually shape the way we think and view the world. This is how we create our sense, our unique network of connections specific to our individual experience of how we understand and interact with the world.

The Job Seeker’s Dilemma

Therefore, we each have something different to offer, to share, to teach – and the issue in the workplace is that many employers don’t know how to figure out what that is BEYOND using past experience as a reference. That’s what a resume is, after all. Don’t they exist for a reason?

However, studies show recruiters today only take 6 seconds to review a resume. Furthermore, a candidate could give the best 30-minute interviews, a very short period of time where they will be on their best behavior, whether it’s their true self or not. How can we base hiring decisions on these fleeting factors?

We need to be intentional about matching the best person to the job by also bearing in mind how their natural behaviors align with the behaviors of the job. Skills and knowledge evolve over time and can be taught, but you can’t teach someone to be who they are and how their human shows up in the workplace. We should embrace an approach that assesses the whole self, not just what we see at first glance on a resume.

What should we do?

Employers should consider the long term (5, 10+ year) goals for their organization, and given the changing landscape of the business world, reassess how human capital will contribute to and impact the goals of the company. From there, plans for a shift (or shifts) in people resources can be designed, and positions can be repurposed and realigned.

Companies can design templates around their jobs and seek candidates that match those profiles. And job seekers can pursue the roles that best align with their whole human.

For job seekers, I ask you to consider 2 things: your natural and innate traits (behaviors, motivations, drives), and your nurtured and developed traits (skills, beliefs, knowledge, values). What jobs out there can you pursue that align with these 2 things?

For employers, what do your hiring practices look like? Are they set up so that you get to know a whole person – what’s natural and nurtured – or one of these things? Do you match them up with the profile of the job? If not, perhaps evaluating what information asking from candidates so that the information is more in line with the scope of the role and how it matches with a candidate’s whole human is the way to go.

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