My blogging output has suffered of late; given that I have recently accepted full-time employment as a healthcare executive. The good news is that my checking account balance has benefitted as a result. On the one hand I have the pursuit of my lifelong passion, on the other hand I have the need to satisfy my financial obligations. Alas, life is a series of tradeoffs!
The path to gainful traditional employment was littered with more than its share of potholes. Being a senior executive in a tight job market with dismal performance being reported by global corporations meant that I had to adopt a high level of creativity. I subscribed to the major job boards, worked my network of fellow professionals, and even joined a pay-for-access job site aimed at the six digit annual compensation level.
As I stumbled through the employment labyrinth, I was amazed by the high level of technology that had been adopted by human resource departments. I come from a time where you either showed up in person to fill out a job application or you mailed in your neatly typed resume. For those of you under the age of thirty, please feel free to Google “typewriter” or “mail.” Maybe you will appreciate just how hard it was for my generation!
The first technological marvel I encountered was the automated application process. Either you could complete a reusable profile to apply for a specific position, and others in the future, or you could send your resume to a specified email address at the target company. That, in and of itself, was not terribly awe-inspiring. However, the reply process left my jaw agape! No sooner had I hit the “submit” button, then I had an acknowledgement response waiting in my email inbox! The text usually thanked me for the submission and promised that my credentials would be given serious consideration.
I am not so much of an Internet Age relic as to not understand what is going on behind the scenes. In the application process, you are asked to furnish your name and email address. As soon as you submit yourself for a position, your name is pulled into a template letter, and the message is conveyed across cyberspace using the email address you furnished! It is somewhat cold and impersonal, but at least you know that your application was received. Whether it got to an actual human being or an electronic slush pile is another question altogether!
More often than not, several weeks would go by and I would get another piece of automated correspondence. Addressed by name again, I was reassured that my credentials were impressive, that many qualified applicants were carefully considered, and that my background was not the best fit for the position. Naturally, this was another form letter, populated by information I furnished, and sent in mass to the hundreds of applicants who were culled from the herd! Perhaps what bothered me the most was that the email was signed by a department, not an individual, and that the originating email for the sender was a “no reply” email box!
It does not bother me that there were jobs where I was not selected. However, it would have been nice to know why I was not the ideal fit for the position. I would also enjoy knowing which of my credentials were impressive, maybe so I could better highlight them to a future potential employer. For that matter, it would be nice to at least know who the human being was that decided I was not the best fit. My reason for wanting this knowledge does not involve reprisal or stalking; simply stated, I miss the personal touch!
Today finds me in a position where I am the hiring manager. In the past I have had human resource departments that were larger than the entire organization I currently manage. That meant one of my VP’s shot out a job requisition and let HR work their magic. Somewhere behind the scenes, the top three candidates were identified and screened, then scheduled to meet with the hiring manager. At some point towards the end of the process, our top prospects were then paraded through the splendor of my CEO office for the final chemistry check.
Today finds me being the waiter, cook, and dishwasher for my organization. I decide the need, place the ad, screen the applicants, conduct interviews, and make the final hiring decision. I do not have an online application process, automated response letters, or some form of algorithmic voodoo to pick the best fit. Is it inefficient? Yes. Is it time-consuming? Absolutely. Could I employ advanced technology to save me this drudgery? Not a problem.
Instead, I personally answer each email received for a particular job opening. I acknowledge receipt of the resume and thank the candidate for their submission. My email actually contains my name and title. I call individuals to schedule interviews too. After I have chosen my top three candidates, all other applicants receive an email from me, indicating precisely why they were not selected. After making an offer, the other two candidates receive a personal phone call from me, again explaining why they were not selected.
We face a wonderful enigma in the age of technology. Will we harness the power of automation to be less human, or will we master it as an extension of our humanity? The choice is ultimately ours to make; but you can rest assured you will never receive an email from me that begins with “Dear (Enter Applicant Name Here).”