If the Big Guy Gets a Break, Why Can’t ‘We the People?’

Dear U.S. Corporations:  If the President of the United States gets a break on meeting the criteria and requirements of the job description — can we give each other a little break too?

Pretty much my whole career has been in talent acquisition. Even when I’ve been in a management role, I’ve always been very hands on with talking to candidates. What I’ve seen through the last two decades is clear though: We as hiring personnel have become more and more stringent on the criteria and qualifications of each job requirement.

When I first started as an agency staffing professional, if you were a good project manager candidate and you had, say, five years of experience and a PMP certification, I would be able to send you to any one of a dozen places that were looking to fill a project manager’s role. I did that, and with the right coaching I got you a job. The vast majority of the time the project managers I placed were very successful. I really can’t remember anyone getting fired for not being able to do the job.

As years passed, companies demanded that a candidate have “industry” experience as part of the criteria. Then as new technologies were implemented, so grew the needs and requirements for a project manager to have worked with those technologies.

But then it wasn’t enough that a person had worked with the technology. A “must-have” requirement for the latest version was a must. Really? The candidate had the last three versions, but since she didn’t have the latest, clearly, she would not be able to handle the upcoming upgrade the company she is interviewing for was planning … in 3, 6, 12 months. “We’ll pass on her,” was a common response. Add in the need to satisfy a company’s education demands and team management size and about 1.2 million (ok, just a “slight” exaggeration) other requirements, and wallah! You have a standard 2017 job requirement by company X today.

Candidates call me all time and say,  “Hey Vinay man, I can really do this job you’ve posted, but I’m missing one or two things on that job requirement … can you get me in front of the hiring manager — I know I can do the job!”

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Unfortunately, I’ve said thousands of times, mostly during my Agency days, “I know you can, I really do … if I had a nickel for everyone I knew who could do the job and got them in — I would be taking this call from my yacht in the Caribbean.”

Today we’ve created job descriptions and hiring processes that basically do everything to eliminate people from getting a job. Some of the job descriptions are so ridiculous that if a hiring manager actually found the person who does fit the requirement he or she would probably move up and take the hiring manager’s job because they have an “S” in front of their shirt. They are a wish list of possible things a person can have, and I often think, “was this hiring manager given a budget so small they are purposely trying to build a requisition of two or three people into one?”

No one unqualified should be hired for a job. That is not what I’m saying. But if the toughest job in the land has been filled by someone who did not have the requisite job qualifications and was someone that we the people thought could be a refreshing newcomer who can bring new perspective, can’t we as hiring personnel do the same for millions of American job seekers who are applying for much less important roles?

And yes, I’m assuming any other job in the country is less important that the President of the United States …

Vinay Singh is a subject matter expert in the HR/talent acquisition business transformation field with expertise in both professional services and corporate environments. He has helped hundreds of companies deploy all manners of talent and hiring strategies and represented thousands of job seekers over the past two decades -- with a specialty in the tech field.

A consummate student of learning about the disruption around the “people & technology business,” he has studied at The Ohio State University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, and most recently New York University.

His passion is deeply rooted in research and analysis; he writes about people engagement and looks to find the solutions to the problems within the talent acquisition technology and processes today.


6 Comments on “If the Big Guy Gets a Break, Why Can’t ‘We the People?’

  1. To be fair, and to not create confusion among uninformed members of the electorate, there are immovable requirements to be President as outlined in Aricle II Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution. So in this case that means that regardless of experience or ability the office of President is open to only natural born US citizens, who have resided in the US for 14 years and our at least 35 years old. This therefore limits the candidate pool (for better or worse) and these requirements are not open to exception, so America technically has exclusionary hiring process’s at our very roots!
    The reasons behind the concept of exclusion can be debated for hours, but a theory with a high probability of being correct is that is is most largely a function of expediency. The concept of reviewing and interviewing for inclusion as opposed to exclusion, although potentially better in the long run, is viewed as more laborious and less effecient from almost the entire TA value chain.
    I realize this offers no solution, but simply illustrates that it is a deep issue.

  2. You’re right on the mark, Vinay. When I started in a Marketing role for a staffing company, I moved from an assistant to manager in 2 years. The company kept creating new roles for me to fill. At multiple points, I had to right the job description for my own job and was asked to include requirements that I didn’t actually have. At that point, I had maybe 2.5 years of marketing experience but my job “required” 5 years of experience + some agency experience. If I’d had to interview for my own position, I wouldn’t have qualified.

  3. Vinjay, I and many others are getting tired of political talk inserted into what was a good article. FYI–the prior president was only a community organizer (demonstrator) before his political career—never really earned money on his own. Honestly, you have a great article leave your political opinions out. FYI–I am an independent so open to all sides but really Tired of politics contaminating every discussion. Focus on the topic.

  4. Dear Janet, I’m sure you got it wrong, Vinay was referring to a Community Organizer that didn’t earn a dollar in his life for honest hard work and became a President, and not to a successful businessman that employed tens of thousands of people and became a President.

  5. Its rigging the recruiting process to eliminate diversity candidates. I’ve seen it all the time, the old 101 excuses why you can’t, just so they can have a legally plausible account for rejecting you when really you are knocked back because of some legally protected status, meanwhile those who fit old stereotypes are waved through if they don’t rigorously meet the new job spec.

  6. Fantastic article Vinay, thanks for sharing your insights. I agree that companies have become too dependent and rigid in terms of recruiting and hiring for “exact” qualifications. This is often paired with their ATS and breeds a culture where most applicants are ignored because they are missing something in their CV. I am a strong advocate of using an ATS, don’t get me wrong. But I feel that a cultural shift is required where teams hire together and focus on assessing talent on more than these requirements. Collaborative hiring enables the team to define what they need in a candidate and look for the best fit for your company. You can read some more on the topic in our whitepaper: https://goo.gl/PQZgA7

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