An Algorithm Couldn't Have Hired Steve Jobs

Here’s the plan: buy the newest, greatest HR software that’s part of the new wave of hot technology attracting lots of eager investment, make the big announcement, reassure all the hiring managers it’s an easy interface, and then what? Just see what happens when real people use it? Hmmm.

I’m thrilled that HR technology is rising to the fore, with innovative companies like Workable, recently infused to the tune of $34 million. But it is important that you understand how to connect that technology with the people with whom it will interface.

What Workable aims to do is give smaller firms the same bells and whistles, big-as-the-Cloud-allows hiring software that the big ones have. It’s a way to even the playing field in terms of the hiring process, and with customization make sure that it’s not that dreaded LCD, one-size-fits-all tech none of us want.

We may still be at the stage where we know more about what we don’t want than what we do.

I’ll give you a leg up with that one: we do want software that can run on mobile platforms and understands how to work with social media. Apropos of that, Workable’s mobile-friendly and social literate. There’s also the reality of the cost factor: hiring is expensive; technology is expensive; the global workplace makes managing talent expensive. If we could save a bit of cash, that’d be great. (And we will further discuss hiring needs, costs and processes in next week’s live podcast and #TChat with Nikos Moraitakis, CEO of Workable.)

But — and you know there’s a but or there would not be a column — for all the efficiency that technology creates, it can’t replace a real human handshake. It can’t replace that human element. And part of the mythology surrounding mega talents like Steve Jobs or Danielle Fong (the co-founder of energy storage innovator LightSail) are the many people involved in those particular, individual career paths. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure an HR search application would be able to locate Steve Jobs now, though it would certainly locate the networking maven Fong.

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Hiring isn’t an algorithm. It’s still about people and talent and culture fit. Nor is it a grab for the file in the middle of the stack. So the ideal hiring manager needs to be able to straddle both sides of the equation. The hiring managers need to be facile at the new technology — which is designed specifically to reduce the amount of time doing all that busywork, from search and recruiting and on through the hiring funnel. But they also need to be able to do the face to face. This is a two-handed drive: you’ve got to speak both languages in order to keep up.

But there’s another reason to make sure human stays in HRand you are really good at the software. Given that your hiring team is the first face of your employer brand, you’ll want them to be fluent with your selected HR technology, whatever it is. If they’re not, it will have an enormously negative impact on your employer brand. Nothing is a more damaging sign to a company, particularly a small business, than a clumsy and inept hiring and onboarding process. It says: This is a company chasing numbers, not talent. So much for transparency: you’re just transmitting that your apparent transparency is actually see-through.

Inefficient as a mindset

Sure, Las Vegas was muy tasty: so much HR technology, so many new rollouts, that there’s bound to be pleas for caution after we’ve finally emerged from the buffet. As a field, however, we’ve seemed wedded to a kind of balky inefficiency.

There are the “approval up the channels” steps and pauses, and the “can’t find the references” glitches, and countless ghosts in the machine. Then there are the machines. We are haunted by the very process we’re trying to leave behind. Why? There’s still an interface with seams that need erasing. Now it’s from the amazing HR technology to the human hiring teams. Let’s make sure those key dots are connected. Go for it and please keep me posted.

A version of this post was first published on Forbes on 10/23/15

Community Paradigm: It's All About YOU!

The Fact of the Matter

Every community develops their own definition of what matters. For some communities,  it’s motivated by a shared interest or a commitment to a specific change. For others, it’s professional best practices that can create a unified purpose. Some communities are even defined solely by the outcome of their environment stemming from completely circumstantial situations such as geography or an unforeseen event.

When it comes to TalentCulture, relevance is not merely the static entity of a group of people who associate themselves with the World of Work.  TalentCulture is a space to recognize and redesign; an evolving space that is given shape by the very people who fill it with their experiences, knowledge and stories. It’s the tale of two cultures – individual and organization, coming together to form one powerful voice. What matters to TalentCulture, is the community itself – what matters is YOU.

The 3 C’s of Comm“you”nity

  1. Connection – When Steve Jobs joined Pixar, he actually joined Pixar by bringing all functions of staff together into the same physical space. This decision empowered people to connect with themselves to cultivate the confidence to do something differently as well as each other to spark remarkable success. The redefinition of the workplace resulted in removing the “bull” and leaving the pen so people could draw better conclusions, literally.
  2. Creation – The Olympics are coming in July and with it the anticipation of the opening ceremonies. The world is waiting to catch a glimpse of the spectacle that has dazzled for literally hundreds of years. It’s a remarkable example of how the collective creates something more innovative and influential than the individual and how we love it.
  3. Crowdsourcing – The new paradigm in community engagement is what I call “The YOU Paradigm”; where the crowd initiates and generates meaningful consensus through an organization sanctioned play-for-performance model. In this model, thought leadership emerges as collective and open source intelligence ignited by four simple words – What Do YOU Think?

Every week we put YOU front and center. The community, quite simply, is what moves TalentCulture front and center. It’s what keeps people coming back every Wednesday and has vendors using the #TChat hashtag on twitter to get YOUR attention. So tell us: What do YOU think?