Finding the Right People - Part B: Wanting The Right People

This is part of a larger article, the entirety can be found using the links in the introduction. Part A of Finding the Right People was about the nuts and bolts of getting more applicants to the job you are looking to fill. I titled Part B “Wanting the right people” possibly a more accurate title might be “Accurately describing the right person” but it is not a snappy title.

Below is a hypothetical job description and two potential candidates.

Job Title: Design Engineer

Requirements: Bachelors Mechanical Engineering; GPA 3.5; 5 Years experience designing thingamabobs; ASME XXXX Expert.

Dave meets all of these requirements, but while he was smart enough to get a high GPA he has no passion for engineering, the reality is he does exactly what he is told to do, but doesn't think for himself. If you are interviewing correctly, this is very easy to discern. (The next article will be about interviewing correctly)

Alyssa has a bachelors in Aerospace Engineering with a GPA of 2.8, has never designed a thingamabob, and has not experience with the ASME code you have listed as a requirement. While Alyssa’s degree is aerospace, she has spent her career designing a wide variety of machinery for different industries. While she does not know the code you have listed, however in her last job she was on the gap analysis team for applicable codes. And as for the GPA companies like Google are starting to realize that GPA does not indicate success in a job and her responsibility level has steadily increased over time. Additionally, it is important to understand why her GPA was 2.8. Was she working a fulltime job, caring for a parent or child, or skip a lot of class to party? Each of these situations reflects very differently, but you will not be able to ask if with the way the description is written because ATS will screen her out.

So the question is who would you rather hire? The problem is with the job description. As it is written the hiring manager will never see Alyssa’s resume. That is because of Applicant Tracking Software (ATS). This is a software that automatically screens out resumes that don’t have the correct keywords. So no human ever even sees the resume. There are plenty of articles around the internet telling applicants how to optimize their resume for ATS, but I haven’t seen any about how to optimize the job description for ATS. There are limits to what an honest candidate can do in order to optimize their resume for a position and still be truthful.

Write the job description with ATS in mind. Step one is to read and learn about ATS from an applicants perspective. I recommend using Cultivated Culture resume scanning tool. Use this tool to compare your own resume vs the job description you are posting. You might need to find an older version of the resume to be fair. If your resume wouldn’t make it past ATS, you should start asking some questions.

Do not extrapolate qualifications. “I need a smart person, smart people go to college, therefore a college degree is a requirement.” Very few people actively go through this thought process, but an unspecified college degree is often listed. Using the college degree example, if you cannot name a specific degree and the specific skills that degree teaches, then it is likely not a requirement for the job. This can also be said for making familuraty with specifications a requirement, particularly if they are industry specific. It may be a requirement that the engineer you are hiring will need to design in accordance with a particular specification, but is it really a requirement that they are currently an expert in that particular standard?

The end result of what I am suggesting will result in fewer automatic screening criteria and more human screening on the part of the manager. I am a huge fan of reducing and automating routine tasks. But hiring is not routine, it deals with humans and humans are not some dataset that a computer can sort. It requires a human to sort through each person to find the best potential hires.