Thursday, September 19, 2013

Do Recruiters (or Hiring Managers) Get the New Career Path

A fellow named Sir Ken Robinson who is famous for a TED talk about how schools kill creativity said in a recent Fast Company article the following:

“It’s important to note, that there just isn’t a straight line between what you do at school and what you go on to do in your career. I argue that it is like being in the ocean. You keep correcting your course according to the things that happen to you. But companies force us to write resumes as though it were a plan.”

He goes on later to say that “…companies need people who can think differently and adapt to be creative.” And finishes his argument making the point that we live in a world of ideas and concepts where imagination is the most important element of our long term success.

But do we look for imagination when we recruit? How often do we throw out the resume that isn’t an exact match to a specific set of skills? Is this getting even more pervasive now that we let automation drive our screening process? The HR space is rife with companies claiming they can find you the better candidate faster. But they can only find the candidates that fit narrow criteria.
How can that work if – as many studies have shown – skills learned today will be obsolete in 3 to 5 years?
How do we recruit for the “best athlete,” the one who has that well rounded set of skills that allows them to adapt, and to be creative and productive in uncertain and changing times?
When I was in the early days of my career I worked in a consulting firm. We specialized in building automated tools to help support complex business systems problems. As we grew very rapidly we wanted to understand how we could grow managers more quickly. Accordingly, we set about assessing what the common characteristics were for our most accomplished leaders. We found two things: 1) it was not our best engineers who succeeded, but the ones who had some form of liberal arts education in their background. And, 2) they had experienced a wide ranging and diversified set of experiences at the firm. They had not stuck to a single career path.
So that kid with the degree in art history, take a second look. S/he just might be your next CIO.