Recently, Maggie applied for her first job: working at the Boys & Girls Club. I’m proud of her, wanting to stay active in the club and help out. She filled out a traditional application, one that requested work history and references. For a job that is to gain work experience. For high school kids who don’t have work experience or references.
And I can’t fault them. This is the way you do it. It’s been done this way for a very very very long time. The 2 ways you express interest in a job is via your application or your resume. Even if you are recommended for a job, you’ll likely send your resume to that person for “review.” And all of the fanciest applicant tracking systems do the same [let’s be honest, the ATS is only to eliminate paper & manual tracking, not to make the process easier]. The very first step is an application. And some of them make you upload a resume AND fill out the application. Prevailing thought process is still the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. But is it really?
We hear a lot of stories about people lying on their resume, fabricating experience or education. Most recruiters have at least one (or more) stories of being taken in by someone who interviews like a dream, only to discover they do not have the knowledge, skills, abilities (KSAs) or even the desire to do the job. So we talk about better background checks, better interviewing skills to catch someone in a lie. What we don’t talk about is figuring out how to really check someone’s KSAs.
When we talk about pre-employment assessments, we tend to shy away from them because we also want to create a good candidate experience. Usually that means, we don’t want to make the candidates jump through too many hoops. But what if we changed the hoops.
Think about it. I’ve been in the workforce for 25 years. Does my Bachelor’s degree from 1993 really affect the work I’m doing now? We still write job descriptions based more on education and years of experience rather than the actual KSAs someone needs to do the job. What if we rewrote the job descriptions? Rather than saying a degree is required, talk about what someone would have gained from their education that will be applied to the job.
And here’s my radical idea: we stop focusing on applications, resumes and cover letters and move into skill assessments. Check out the Nike Careers home page. They don’t even start with job titles (because let’s be honest, job titles are totally meaningless.) Nike asks you questions about what you want to do for a company, what traits best describe you, what are you passionate about and then they tell you what jobs you might be a fit for (now, full disclosure, I have gone through the rest of their process, for research, and the remainder of their process is still pretty basic — complicated application. But at least the start is fun.)
This is just the beginning of the journey for me. I’d love your input into my brief survey as I learn more about what you are currently doing. And if you are willing to talk with me more, let me know!