It seems no one wants to hire an exemplary person, but someone just to do the job. By “exemplary” I mean someone who has more than the obvious talent, education or experience for the job. It’s definitely easier to train an new employee to do the company job, than to discover hidden talents of an already established employee; if they had them, why didn’t they exhibit them up to this point. What’s harder is getting an employer to see how a potential employee solves problems, works well with others, leads a team to accomplish a creative task, or come up with fresh new ideas unless we look at his or her record or at least the resume.
I understand that companies are afraid to invest more than they have to in this economy, but it comes down to a series of clichés and euphemisms. “You get what you pay for.” “Why have a fancy shake when you can have plain milk?” “Hamburger, when you can have steak?”
Enough clichés, but hiring the staid, perfect fit seems to be the latest trend. Businesses are afraid to explore people options fully, and it may be up to us through leadership training or employee training to show companies and other organizations what they can be missing–potential creativity, new ideas, new methods.
Today we are told by the Human Resource experts that people tend to have several careers these days instead of one. In fact, many have several jobs and multitask unbelievably well. For some of those folks, getting a single, well-paying job is not going to happen since they’ve been…well, too diverse. Since when is being too diverse a problem?
All the geniuses I’ve ever heard of who went on to do great things in pretty much any field have been diverse in their experience. I could spend the entire blog making a list. So can you. Think of someone who has done “great” things, not just made a lot of money, but made a great contribution to society and you’ll find someone who has been around.
I’ve been in the job market more than 30 years and grant you, my resume shows a lot of experience and its varied. I think I did that before it was fashionable. Perhaps my special talent is that I’m pretty adaptable. I’m also not talking about a string of unrelated jobs, which doesn’t help when looking for a job. My jobs were all very related to communication; however, employers get very specific. Companies I talked to (if I got a response at all) didn’t want a talented communicator–not someone who adapted communication creatively all the time. Or, was it the military thing? No, they needed someone without training who had been doing the same job before. Or, so it seemed. Could it be the creative talent others saw in me and rewarded me with numerous, high-visibility projects was my downfall? Should it have been?
It seems we want just what we want and no more. We don’t want to invest to see beyond the obvious to find someone who might have potentially more valuable to offer the company in the long run. It’s a short-term business decision, but one that could be missing tremendous opportunity for a little investment. If you are a hiring manager: have you not hired someone who was outstanding on paper, and could have been easily trained for the job at hand, but the instruction came down that “no, we need someone now?” No training necessary. It could be a rush to mediocrity.
Just look at the specific job descriptions. Sometimes an organization is just following the regulations and it already has someone in mind for a position. It’s not really being competitive, but hundreds have wasted time applying–especially in this economy. I understand weeding out the ones who aren’t even close, but when a job is already locked, it doesn’t seem fair to waste the time of someone looking for a real opportunity.
Hiring the handicap or socially-economically disadvantaged may be the greatest diversity tool in business. It forced employers to look beyond the perfect fit–even at companies like IBM where people jokingly referred to being able to spot an IBM by his clothes and haircut alone. Diversity does go beyond the obvious and we’re foolish when we don’t see the hidden talents of our people.
What if we trainers through activities and testing could determine someone has much desired character traits for success? What if we could identify other talents a person has besides an ability to do the job? Wait, we can do that! What about exercises that demonstrate a person’s problem-solving ability, or the ability to think fast on their feet, or communicate the company’s needs to the max?
So, we already can and do those things–or at least we used to. Problem is: especially with the larger companies, we are looking only to fill a specific job and we have hundreds, sometimes more, applicants who have varying degrees of specificity or have less ability than that and barely reach the bar.
My experience in getting a job after the Air Force was totally different, but in some ways still showed the stereotype of hiring around a budget or for the wrong reasons may not always be in the company’s best interest. Of course, anyone could argue, the decision they made at the time was the right one. It just seems a waste of talent and energy.
Stay tuned for Part II coming soon…if it’s not already here.
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Enough grousing on my end. The Cave Man strikes again. By the way, I’m debating on a new name for my company. Cave Man Training and Communication, or Training Smarts–after my Acting Smarts company, which I’m setting aside to focus on training and development. What do you think? Check out my website and my eBook, The Cave Man Guide to Training and Development. In these places I look at training and development from a little different perspective. You’ll find more of What I Say under that category. I even review plays. Imagine that! Times change and perspective needs to follow.
Hope you found something useful in my grousing commentary. Happy training.