The hiring process

After moving to the US from Germany I have had some interesting thoughts on why the whole hiring process sucks, for anyone involved.

I’m mostly talking about hiring people who are currently not employed since most of the issues I’m talking about here don’t really apply to people working in the field they’re looking for work in.

For employers it seems like finding an ideal candidate for a job is amazingly hard. Even harder when the unemployment rate is fairly low. You’re spending probably hundreds of hours trying to find someone who would fit in with your company and do a job well. And even after all that you won’t find out if you made the right choice for another few thousands dollars spent. And then, even if it doesn’t seem to be the right candidate you need to wonder if it’s actually worth it to go through all the hassle of replacing them or if they’re doing almost well enough not to get fired.

For employees it doesn’t seem any less complicated. I have just spent close to 30 hours just preparing a résumé (that you can see here…. shameless plug intended), and with that I obviously haven’t even gotten to a cover letter, which obviously should be different for each application. Then you need to actually find a company that wants to hire the likes of you and for which you want to work. So far I have spent about 50 hours and the time of a few friends before even applying for the first job.

Now there are companies who are supposed to make the process easier for both sides. But do they really ? If I hire a company to do the hiring for me, will they really evaluate a candidate or will they just go through their résumé like I would ? If I hire a company that will go around and show off my résumé to companies, will they actually do a decent evaluation ?

Now I know this isn’t all that feasible, but there should be a company that hires and trains people and then actually knows what skills they have and what companies they would be useful for. Or even specifically trains people in the technologies that are in use at the company that wants to hire someone. And I know what you’re thinking: that’s what schools are for. But you would be wrong. There are so many people attending very good schools who really haven’t learned much of what the school wanted to teach. Being able to repeat things on a test isn’t quite the same as actually using that knowledge in practice.

Obviously I’m talking mostly about IT jobs here. And I’m really advocating against using standard programming tests to see who at least understands some fundamentals of programming. It’s fairly easy to memorize the fizzbuzz test and similar ones without really understanding them.

I don’t really have a solution to this whole problem right now (beyond people calling themselves experts in whatever technology the company uses, it’s fairly easy to test those people by making them actually write something useful), but it’s obviously something that’s on a lot of people’s minds.

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