Brain-Dead Hiring Practices To Ditch
5 Solutions For The “Cyber Skills Gap” ⬆ Images Hyperlinked
MISCELLANEOUS WRITINGS | 2019 CHRISTMAS EDITION | VOLUME 53
'Tis the season when clueless people opining on blockchain, AI, IoT, and trend predictors alike bask in fantasy. But HR execs on islands of their own making aren't immune either.
Suffering from chronic short-term pragmatism and dangerous data dictatorship, the industry, Western HR pros online in particular, love(s) posing insular questions and circulating theories regarding hiring quality — while sidestepping candidates and the candidate experience — having nothing to do with the sort of strategic hiring China does, and which I witnessed over 16 years there.
And often, until I advise them — I've been doing innovative, disruptive strategic HR consulting since leaving AT&T in the 1990s — the blind spots are as mind-boggling as failing to seek to study why for example, a country like Taiwan maintains a COVID-19 pandemic death toll of 7 or under 10, while a richer, better-resourced U.S. raced to exceed 500,000. Or simply, counterintuitive reasons why the U.S. has become such a target-rich ransomware market for cybercriminals in particular.
How do you think they still manage to hire faster than Americans?
The average American recruiter or hiring manager, the type obsessed with portals, ATS, and the kind of data greed I speak of below, never heard of China's 3-Second Rule:
Job applicants routinely search by job title, city, and skills. When the results of the search are shown, the candidate merely clicks, APPLY TO ALL, and their pre-loaded profile is sent to the company’s resume management page located at the job board. This means that a candidate can apply to multiple jobs, as many as the page shows, in 3 seconds or less.
The outgoing Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John Hyten recently called for 'speed' to combat the 'pacing threat' China poses. Yet, I doubt he had HR in mind, or has wondered about the debilitating inefficiency of government hiring sites in both the U.S. and allied countries. Because, by the above yardstick alone, China will continue to outpace the U.S., Canada, UK, Australia and other allies whose HR processes I've tested, and can confirm are designed to trap candidates in time-consuming stupor that the Chinese don't tolerate.
Further, the same rigid, often condescending HR leaders responsible for the current Applicant Tracking-suffocated system — this active threat to national security — not only do not value and prioritize hiring strategic minds over their ever complicated archaic HR processes, but critically, often also never even knew under under 6% of Chinese employers, knowing their candidates too well, actually even use ATS:
The Insignificance of Applicants Tracking Systems in China
Remember that less than 6% of employers in China utilize applicant tracking systems. So candidates are never encouraged to reply to an apply-link in the job content (often called “link-back”). This means that over 99% of job postings are void a link-back. Instead, companies rely on candidates utilizing their pre-submitted profile stored at each job board.
Further, to those who may have scoffed at the data dictatorship bit, here's an excerpt from MIT's Technology Review:
The dictatorship of data ensnares even the best of them. Google runs everything according to data. That strategy has led to much of its success. But it also trips up the company from time to time. Its cofounders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, long insisted on knowing all job candidates’ SAT scores and their grade point averages when they graduated from college. In their thinking, the first number measured potential and the second measured achievement. Accomplished managers in their 40s were hounded for the scores, to their outright bafflement. The company even continued to demand the numbers long after its internal studies showed no correlation between the scores and job performance.
Google ought to know better, to resist being seduced by data’s false charms. The measure leaves little room for change in a person’s life. It counts book smarts at the expense of knowledge. And it may not reflect the qualifications of people from the humanities, where know-how may be less quantifiable than in science and engineering. Google’s obsession with such data for HR purposes is especially queer considering that the company’s founders are products of Montessori schools, which emphasize learning, not grades. By Google’s standards, neither Bill Gates nor Mark Zuckerberg nor Steve Jobs would have been hired, since they lack college degrees.
Pro-European data ethicists be informed: I just returned to Europe after over 17 years in China in particular, and Asia Pacific in general. And British recruitment remain as data-dictatorial as badly EU-wide hiring lacks diversity perspective, and is often shamelessly aloof when it comes to inclusion, despite assumptions made in well-meaning arguments by some Europeans. (Click or tap image). Indeed, far from tokenizing Black employees, prospects or candidates, most EU career websites don't even pretend using images, to telegraph diversity and inclusion. Too lost in algorithmic bias to care.
Hence, the perspicacious but optimistic Black applicant is unambiguously aware long before joining — that is, if even welcomed — that they may not belong.
And we know how Tidjane Thiam, Banking’s sole Black C.E.O. made Credit Suisse profitable again, only to be rejected by the Swiss as an outsider. All of such misguided, brain-dead, data dictatorship-driven recruitment has deep national security implications for a currently under-performing, distracted and weakened West in the face of a ruthless CCP-run China, with an equally inattentive HR acting as enablers of the latter unawares. On multiple fronts.
Meanwhile, there are UK government sites we shan't name encouraging foreigners to apply (online) that won't allow you to click Next on, unless you input a NIN (national insurance number). Equivalent of the U.S. SSN (social security number).
Meanwhile, when major UK media outlets recently made a big deal about the The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had advertised a job seeking a housemaid good at 'maintaining confidentiality' they all seemingly missed the fundamental problem with the ad. It's uncompromising eligibility requirement that all applicants be UK citizens or already have a right to work in the UK.
Even the China I know isn't that ideological, impractical, nor does it recruit that way.
What if the one ideal strategic hire you seek is out of the UK citizens pool?
Pause and ask yourself: What do I know about, or can be learned from, the massive formidable foreign talent behind Huawei's success?
For smart organizations “missing the skills to restructure their businesses and manage” disruption (per Gartner above) — and more specifically, those prepared to be as effective as Huawei's talent acquisition has been, relative to the Chinese tech giant's goals — who now realize they missed the memo, the top 3 challenges in talent acquisition that will matter most in the next decade isn't AI, automation, HR Tech hype, or glorified HR predictions for 2020. It's simply:
① How to make terms like talent shortage, talent crunch, talent crisis, skills gap inapplicable to YOUR organization?
② How to attract and close top talent or strategic hires like the Chinese and the Middle Easterners (Saudis and Emiratis in particular) do?
③ And how can YOU, as a CHRO, hiring manager, recruiter or HR exec get out of the way of your own DX (Digital Transformation) goals by addressing the Friction + Stinginess = Turnoff problem originally addressed in What CxOs & Recruiters Don't Get About Security (Part 1) incorporated below?
The article above (click/tap) — After 20 years of hiring, I refuse to look at resumes that have this common yet outdated section — is a perfect example of hiring managers getting in the way of corporate DX, HR, future of work goals. The tone and obvious assumptions behind it aside, it's bad enough to have an online job application black hole you're proud of.
What's more, it's the same tone behind some of the worst, most dictatorial and patronizing job descriptions out there.
Except, in the age of the millennial, forgetting that hiring is a two-way street is suicide.
The tone of job descriptions matter. The attitude of hiring managers, matter.
Deporting tech expats over minor errors à la Sweden is dumb.
Problem is, HR is an island.
Easy to forget you need talent as much as candidates need a job when you don't know what you don't know about process management, which is addressed below. Click or tap the image above when ready.
So, key to your HR success in 2020 and beyond?
Get your process management in order.
Unlearn, or relearn process management if you seriously want to improve or fix your quality of hire issues.
Starting now, adopt a negotiative approach with prospects and candidates across the board, and you'll reap dividends and differentiate yourself, as many a great talent is lost that way. Guide below:
Like startup founders/entrepreneurs who never get out of the building to test and taste market realities, the earlier you get off the island and realize you're actually not in a position to boss around candidates and prospects, the humbler and better-adjusted you become, — whatever your business and hiring goals.
The same applies to those outsourcing hiring offshore (let's leave countries unnamed) to poorly trained recruiters who neither have the power to negotiate terms nor understand the culture, mindset, diversity at play, or level of tolerance for BS (like leading busy applicants to useless Applicant Tracking/job portals and sign-up screens while your competitors offer a simplified, to-the-point Single-page Upload CV/resumé & Submit page/form) among experienced candidates or HiPos.
Whether you're a well-established brand or not, when you're offering below-market compensation, perks and no pragmatism, yet sound like the hiring manager further above, you've already lost to competitors playing a smarter, more negotiative game attracting top talent. And you'll continue that trend in the next decade until you change, or go out of business.
Consider this recent but all too frequent exchange:
Me, responding to a job offer:
Thanks. I just left the States but happy to help if relocation (or, airfare + accommodation) is on offer. USC.
Vishal the recruiter:
Thanks for responding. I am afraid that won’t be possible as we are unable to provide you relocation. Let me know if that somehow works for you and we can discuss further regarding the position. Thank you, Vishal.
Vishal, it's very simple: I'm very flexible and been working with recruiters since the' 90s. But I don't work for stingy clients or firms.
Vishal the recruiter:
I understand what you are asking is completely fair, it would be really convenient for a candidate if he/she is provided relocation. It’s just that we are not authorized to provide those expenditures. However, I might be able to provide you the rate you are looking for. Let me know your expectation.
A Chinese or Middle Eastern hiring manager or recruiter intent on closing will engage in a different way. By actually addressing the money issue at play. Even African companies have done that with me.
By contrast, brain-dead, stingy, patronizing North American hiring will keep you stuck in reverse like the hundreds of amateur “for profit” consulting firms and stingy clients stuck on “local hire” preference who contact top talent only to fizzle because he or she mentioned relocation assistance or visa sponsorship. The point being NOT what CAN'T BE DONE, but whether it's even up for serious discussion, with recruiters, talent acquisition managers or hiring managers demonstrating flexibility.
HR professionals can't fix a problem they're unwilling to be honest about. But a few honest ones talk to me. And I tell it like it is, as the first step to diagnosing and solving complex problems.
So here's the free version of what ethical HR execs and CxOs who go on to quietly fix things get from me:
Compelling evidence that there is in fact NO cyber skills shortage, like my initial three, was published long before the Forrester report on which the above feature is based, was released.
For those who'd rather read on than click/tap now, the point is not that there isn't a skills gap problem. The core argument simply put, is that across the board, this is a self-inflicted HR/hiring problem. And if you're in the industry and don't like it, remember: The HR industry is well-known for its ubiquitous CV/resumé, cover letter, job interview and other career advice content.
In this case, it is prudent to take constructive advice.
Unless you're a fan of consequential cyber attacks, — followed by terminations, customer defections, stock downgrades, brand reputational damage, or worse, the bankruptcy or death of your business and would rather continue to brain-dead hiring practices that turn off or turn away the best candidates and attract the worst.
Further, regarding cover letters — including social media cover letters — Monster.com will tell you what both sharp-eyed and honest HR pros already know: “Recruiters don’t read cover letters and hiring managers don’t have time to—they only spend six seconds reading your resume as it is...Not to mention, considering how big of a role social media is playing in the recruiting process, the cover letter is very likely becoming obsolete. A recent study by the Society For Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 84% of employers use social media to recruit job applicants. Why? It’s quicker, saves productivity and revenue, and it allows companies to scout A-grade talent that may not be actively looking for a job.”
So why insist on inefficiency?
Some hiring processes may insist on it as a matter of habit. Yet the best (social media) cover letters still don't matter if budget, location, or eligibility to work are sticking points. So my advise to both candidates and HR pros is: Don't allow others to waste your time, and don't waste others time either. As Peter Drucker said: “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”
Former U.S. presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg rightly acknowledged: “Systemic racism is a white problem.” But at a time when Google is beset by ethical issues, sexual harassment, hate speech, and employee defections and other internal friction, it pays to appreciate how a lack of cognitive diversity, genuine diversity, as well as adulteration of the “gender gap” argument won't help you long-term.
But no matter what your filter bubble, conferences you attend, or network suggests, everything is not business. Those who treat life as such also tend to get lost in the overlap between HR and recruiting functions. So, rather than solving the above 2, they become fixated on the current megatrends of AI and automation, to feed their corporate greed, at the expense of ethical concerns. Click/Tap:
Apart from the Harvard research above (click/tap), most of the bad to worst hiring decisions, including consequences like small-scale to headline grabbing data breach or egregious insider threat incidents, as well as questionable business decisions involving collaborations with repressive regimes to worsen their stranglehold on helpless civilians among other atrocities, are being led by unscrupulous HR firms, vendors, CxOs and personnel profiting from the peddling of the myth of the skills gap, even as they provide technical assistance.
Not surprisingly, IBM is right up there with the likes of Google:
And while I personally like many of these firms, Google's own employee civil war is reminder that people build systems, and shape cultures. That, consummate professionals who happen to be highly competent security technoIogists ARE admittedly an endangered species.
However, that, plus corporate greed is no excuse for unscrupulous CxOs and recruiters to myopically hire unscrupulous talent, with HR Tech vendors, cybersecurity certificates and training 'schools'/pretenders as mere strategic sales components of a profit-making machine that doesn't actually deliver despite millions and billions spent on IT security infrastructure.
If you want to bridge the so-called skills gap, actually READ through the solutions. And as you implement them, you'll have better luck attracting and retaining quality talent, plus buy-in. Or pay professionals like myself to do it meticulously for you, rather than going online looking to avoid divergent views, as there are companies implementing my solutions. And you may be relieved to find in many cases, that their corporate culture isn't perfect either.
In one tweet featuring hashtags like “#skillsgap #cyberskills” which only reinforce the myth, I was responded to a 'skills gap' believer who had just retweeted my How Small Businesses Can Beat Hackers piece.
As usual, the below (#5) must have made made her uncomfortable, because in most cases, as with #3 and 4 above, these are bottom line-driven recruiters, HR execs and CxOs committing the cardinal mistake of not engaging, just when precisely that will correct their blindsidedness.
Finally, for those of us who know a thing or two about how the (Mainland) Chinese and perhaps coincidentally, oil-rich Middle Eastern nations headed by repressive regimes hire, stinginess and prohibitive digital friction in the application process, by comparison, is a major self-inflicted wound. Not just in U.S. recruitment but any organization making their process long and data intensive.
A needless, self-inflicted error that leaves the organization in question at a strategic disadvantage; then parroting the skills gap line. Why would a clearheaded organization — including government agencies, the worst offenders — do what smart organizations globally don't? Inept management.
All the employer branding and candidate experience lip service won't attract the very talent you seek — some of them, highly trainable and much better than your current upskilling pool — if you or your client offer no Visa Sponsorship and/or Relocation Assistance whatsoever.
Stinginess, as well as data-greedy, frequently hacked portals or Applicant Tracking Systems (click/tap above) will never fill your “talent gap” for a whole lot of practical reasons that organizations staffed by highly imaginative people have no problems comprehending.
The one factor that attracts the largest, most trainable pool is money and flexibility.
Money literally talks in that, whereas a reasonable candidate may understand legal restrictions on hiring for example foreign-based talent, one of my own worst career moves was facilitated by how easy the client, on top of sponsoring my visa, made my entire relocation. From Chinese to African consulting, I've experienced it. And it is why skills gap whiners focused on local hire get no sympathy.
Whatever the validity of the above — countries supposedly “best at attracting and nurturing talented workers” — as an American who happens to be black, I have found Canada and even the U.S. lacking when abroad, the stringency of EU employment regulation notwithstanding. Although to be fair, with tech workers living the American Dream in Canada, the latter is better off.
Further, applicants with options don't want their time wasted by greedy and frequently hacked HR Tech that leak sensitive data forcing them to replicate data already on their CV/resumé while recruiters forget that hiring is a two-way street.
As with #3 above, cynical and intransigent HR execs and recruiters benefiting from the status quo, and clueless CxOs who wrongly assume risk intelligence translates to risk maturity may not want to hear the above. Particularly from a a renowned Artificial Intelligence expert who makes HR professionals uncomfortable (click/tap spider man image above), and with automation, advanced manufacturing/RPA, AI, and the shift to e-commerce dramatically changing the very nature and future of work.
But if serious about fixing your “skills gap” problem, act on the foregoing. Because, needless to say, cyber attacks will worsen, you or your business partners will likely be breached many times over, and those not bankrupted or forced to close shop as a result will find this self-inflicted problem more worthy of one's best focus than talk about the future of work. Albeit in the interim, walking and chewing gum simultaneously is recommended, as is the resource for bursting one's filter bubble, below.
In closing, nothing beats seismic change and disruption like a culture of cognitive diversity driven by long-term pragmatism and next-level strategic execution nimble and clear-headed enough to pivot on the fly. So, thanks to COVID-19, after a year of failed leadership particularly in the West — including, by CHROs too wedded to convention — the Gartner insight below, it must be said, only scratches the surfaces.
In other words, like empty talk about the future of work (to be decided in 2021 or not), so long as the frictions identified above remain unresolved, China will indeed over take the U.S. by 2028, and organizations most in need of building critical skills and competencies, will remain underutilized, underperforming, unprepared sitting ducks (or hack victims) turning off or bleeding the very talent and leaders needed to mitigate emerging risks and uncertainties ahead.
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