Thursday, June 13, 2013

Does your company *really* care about hiring?

Via John Spevacek, an interesting set of comments from Plastics News about why some fields (plastics, in particular) seem to be having difficulty finding 'top performers'*:
First, hiring someone really isn't that important to most companies. If it were, you would have a written plan for how and where you are going to find the candidates you want to attract, a schedule for when you are going to have interviews, who will be involved in each interview with their availability confirmed, and the agenda for the interview. This would include the final decision makers. You won't do this — most don't. But if it were important you would. 
Realizing that the top performers are interviewing you at least as much as you are interviewing them, the plan would include your presentation on where the company is headed, exciting new initiatives and a capture strategy for making an offer that will be accepted. The plan would include every detail from where the candidate will stay if out of town, transportation, and where you will take them to dinner (Oh no, you don't take them to dinner?).
In my limited experience, I suspect that this level of planning (i.e. deep thinking about if/whether/who/how we are going to hire) doesn't happen as much as it should. Part of that is that most everyone thinks they're going to be a good judge of character and they know already "what the company needs" -- so why think about it?

The article also makes a set of interesting points about Generation X and Y and what they're looking for:
Fourth, and this is especially true with the Generation X and Y candidates, they don't trust your company. Unlike the baby boomers, who grew up with a certain level of trust in institutions like the government, big corporations, schools, and organized religion, Gen X and Gen Y don't see a reason to trust anyone. There is a 50-50 chance that their parents are divorced, they probably have a parent who has been 'downsized' or 're-engineered' out of a good job, they've seen wars they don't understand, and they've lost all faith in government (Congress' approval rating is around 16 percent as I'm writing this). 
I grew up in Cincinnati, and if you could "get on" at GE, or P&G or Milacron (it was Cincinnati Milacron back then), you were set for life. We baby boomers miss those days, but understand they are gone. The Gen X and Gen Yers grew up with that reality, so even if you are a company with what you believe is a prestigious pedigree, they don't trust you. They desperately want to trust someone, but understand that you will have to do something to earn that, or the top performers that we are talking about will not resign from their current company to come to yours. 
Finally, your company does not understand what the candidates want. Many studies have been done of Gen X and Y to see what is important to them. When compared side by side with what most employers think is important, the correlation is closer to the opposite than to lining up. Prestige, power, salary, and so on, the things that are important to boomers, rank near the bottom of the list for X and Y. They are looking for things like flexible hours, relationships with colleagues and interesting work.
I hate to admit it, but I resemble a lot of the above comment (with the exception of the flexible hours - that's not really my thing, even though I wouldn't mind it.)

[More on this later -- I don't think I'm done thinking about this.]

*One notes that the author appears to be a consultant on hiring executives in plastics, so maybe a little grain of salt. 

18 comments:

  1. "Unlike the baby boomers, who grew up with a certain level of trust in institutions like the government, big corporations, schools, and organized religion, Gen X and Gen Y don't see a reason to trust anyone."

    What generation was it that said "Don't trust anyone over 30" again? I think this article has a very short or revisionist memory.

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    1. So what? They also came up with "drinking the Kool-Aid".

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    2. *That's* the same generation that transformed itself into a fleet of helicopter parents...

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    3. "...from cocaine to rogaine." - George Carlin, on baby boomers

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    4. My father got the shaft just short of 20 years at the first company he worked for. Since then it's been a string of jobs. I think the boomers thought they could find THE job if they worked hard, but that's not the case anymore because there isn't such a job.

      I won't say that hard work won't get you anywhere anymore, but it seems like there's a lot more luck to things now. It's not enough to work hard. It might not even be enough to work hard and be intelligent. Certainly you're a fool these days if you aren't already looking for the next branch because you never know when the CEOs are going to decide they need some M & A action or restructuring to boost their stock options.

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  2. Millennials' expectations are that they have to go to college, get several post-baccalaureate degrees, do unpaid internships for a decade before they can land that string of temporary, part-time $10/hr jobs that can help them move out of their parent's house. Then, in their 40's, they can begin to settle down, start a family and get a $500K mortgage on that 400 sqft condo.

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  3. Or, you could get a job in Texas and get a 500K mortgage on a 4000 square foot house with a pool.

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    Replies
    1. Where's that "job in Texas"? I wouldn't mind getting one.

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    2. It's out in the middle of nowhere, associated with the petroleum industry.

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  4. First, I want to point out the quote: "...'downsized' or 're-engineered' out of a good job..." I recently heard a word that seemed particularly insidious in talking about layoffs: the company was "rightsized".


    Second, I believe the perspective of this recruiter is skewed from the perspective of the industry he is involved in. A huge portion of the plastics industry is commodity. For the most part, the "best" (from an R&D perspective) don't want to spend their career knocking an extra half cent per unit off the production cost and call it R&D.

    This is something I've seen in a few different mature industries that I've had a chance to be involved with. Once an industry matures, there are fewer developments that need to happen to continue business. R&D gets cut back or eliminated, and eventually the people pipeline dries up as people realize the job outlook is poor and the work uninteresting. There just aren't as many people going into these mature industries overall, and assuming a constant percentage of "best", the absolute number is just small, and good people become hard to find.

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    1. " I recently heard a word that seemed particularly insidious in talking about layoffs: the company was "rightsized".

      Sadly, 'rightsized' as a term has been around for at least a decade. If there's any justice, the idiot form McKinsey or BCG who coined it is in purgatory.

      I wish companies would just have the balls to come out and say "we fired a bunch of employees".

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    2. I think working for McKinsey or BCG is purgatory enough.

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  5. "they probably have a parent who has been 'downsized' or 're-engineered' out of a good job, "

    many gen Y chemists have been downsized out of a good job themselves ....

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    Replies
    1. Or realize they aren't ever going to get one in their specialty. Oh well, at least I'll be Dr. X.

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  6. "with the exception of the flexible hours - that's not really my thing"

    Wait until you really don't have them, and then you will see how much you really like them. I work in Japan, where they are basically non-existent. Correspondingly, pretty much any government office (DMV, city hall, etc), banks, and doctor's and dentists's offices are only open during business hours. If you need to utilize any of these, you lose half a day of your precious annual leave. Needless to say, it sucks.

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  7. "First, hiring someone really isn't that important to most companies. If it were, you would have a written plan for how and where you are going to find the candidates you want to attract, a schedule for when you are going to have interviews, who will be involved in each interview with their availability confirmed, and the agenda for the interview. This would include the final decision makers. You won't do this — most don't. But if it were important you would."

    I regret that it took me so long to figure out that job interviews are a pretty haphazard process at most companies. I would get the impression that my interviewer didn't have his s___ together when he hadn't read (or often hadn't even received a copy) of the resume I'd spent hours perfecting, and I probably didn't do a good enough job of hiding it. It took me way too long to understand that this is pretty much standard everywhere.

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  8. My current job involves facilitating discussions between pharma companies and potential new business ventures. Before then I was facing unemployment as a PhD scientist and applying for lots and lots and lots of jobs (I got this job on a fluke that I won't go into here). I can tell you the interview when a company has MUCH to gain from impressing the client is far, far different from the interview they do for a prospective scientist hire. I applied to most of the companies I now work with for scientist positions. The vast majority never even sent a "thanks but no thanks" email. All of my scientist interviews made me feel like I should have been honored they acknowledged my existence.

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  9. I ran into this from a google search of "are companies really hiring".

    From my own experience as an M.S. in (thermal) Mechanical Engineering, the companies really don't care about hiring. The majority of the jobs I've applied for are either still looking after three months with no denial (they do it online), or they close the position. They don't fill the position, they just get rid of it, after being supposedly ready to spend possibly over a million on a specialized hire.

    Yeah, they aren't hiring.

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