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A rant about DIY recruitment

#1 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2022-September-01, 16:47

I am too much of a coward to post this on LinkedIn but it is probably fair to assume that none of my (ex)bosses read here.

Anyway, you work as a manager in a large, bureaucratic organization and you have been tasked with recruiting a new staff member. You follow this simple recipe:

1) Don't use a professional recruiter. Everybody knows that recruiting is a menial task which every mediocre manager can do themselves. DIY recruitment is cheaper.

2) Make it a "trainee" vacancy since that's what we have budget for. Who cares that we neither have the capacity nor the expertise to train anyone.

3) Use HR's standard criteria for shortlisting - they emphasize soft skills like "ability to work under stress" which are not relevant to the job and besides, we have no clue how we would test whether an applicant has any of those skills.

4) HR will just dump the raw CVs on us. We could have blinded them so that the panel couldn't see the gender, age and ethnicity of the applicants but we can't be arsed to do HR's job for them. A few applicants will be dumped because someone in the panel doesn't like their demographics (OK this might not happen at the place I work now but I have experienced it in several other organizations).

5) Shortlist so many applicants that we don't really have time to interview all of them properly. So we rush through the interviews and when we finish asking questions we have already exceeded the allocated time so there's no time for the applicants to ask any questions.
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#2 User is online   pilowsky 

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Posted 2022-September-02, 01:45

If you were to post on LinkedIn it might read something like:
Helene_T is well-known for her skills in recruiting, training and mentoring new starters in large complex organisations.
She has previously recruited people who have gone on to become World Leaders, Senior Managers and Directors of Government instrumentalities.
She is agile, cunning and resilient.
Whiteboards don't bother her at all.
She also plays Bridge.
non est deus ex machina; även maskiner behöver lite kärlek.
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#3 User is offline   LBengtsson 

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Posted 2022-September-02, 03:14

I am reading in the online news feeds and on BBC World News about the two candidates for the UK's next prime minister. Looks like your recruiting criteria would pick a better candidate lol! :D

(The impression I am given is that the British press do not like either of them.)
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#4 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2022-September-02, 03:23

For years I've heard stories that Amazon fires the lowest 10% rated employees annually. There was recently a story that many managers deliberately hired mediocre employees so that they could be fired, "hired to fire" instead of firing good existing workers.
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#5 User is online   pilowsky 

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Posted 2022-September-02, 03:26

View Postjohnu, on 2022-September-02, 03:23, said:

For years I've heard stories that Amazon fires the lowest 10% rated employees annually. There was recently a story that many managers deliberately hired mediocre employees so that they could be fired, "hired to fire" instead of firing good existing workers.

That was called "rank and yank" - a very famous story of how Enron went bung.
non est deus ex machina; även maskiner behöver lite kärlek.
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#6 User is offline   thepossum 

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Posted 2022-September-02, 05:58

Why would anyone with any merit at all apply to such an organisation

Now like everything its mostly driven by algorithms so you will get some boring perfect averagely mediocre candidate

I could never get past algorithms. I have it on my CV

It would be interesting to compare quality of candidates presented by 1) algorithm 2) early screening selection committee 3) linkedin 4) ignorant recruiter who uses one of the above etc

IMHO direct or almost direct approach and conversation is what works. Everything else is a waste of time

Sorry back to dealing with all the irrelevant offers to consider applying for something that I am not really qualified for or would not be interested in. I'll get back to you. I think professorships are my favourite, although with the state of some of the world's academe these days you never know

I've had recruiters and algorithms knock me back for groups where I knew the group leader and rang them up to discuss the position. Another time a recruiter refused to tell me who the position was with so I put the ad into Google and it pointed me to the appropriate organisation who I didn't want to apply to etc

People are having to game some process mediated by people not even qualified to understand people's skills. Every industry went to the same low grade model of unqualified resellers including recruitment. It's like replacing real Bridge with the ability to game a bot

I am sure the research will say that their automated methods produce better candidates and better outcomes on average in the same way that some tedious boring life may work out on average. Or always bidding 3NT and designing a system around that. They do really well on average i am sure. We found the ideal romantic partner for you. On average our matches work out well
Some of us are more interested in the occasional 100% top and the occasional associated 0%. That one didn't work out. Never mind
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#7 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2022-September-02, 07:32

Some hiring practices work much better than others, that's clear. Maybe not relevant to Helene's post but here is how it is done in faculty positions:

The chair, in consultation with faculty, decides we need another person working in a field, say partial differential equations. This opening is advertised n professional sites and people apply. A faculty subgroup of people that can at least partially understand what the applicants have done evaluates the work. Top choices are invited to give a talk. Then the chair, working with the committee, makes a choice. This choice has to go through an approval process, deans and such, but the choice is very seldom rejected. Then, sometime during the next six years, the person is either promoted with tenure or fired. Or, they might decide on their own to leave. This process applies to those who are just starting out. Hiring someone with advanced credentials works differently, often inventively. My favorite, back when the USSR existed: A Jewish prof in the USSR applied for an exit visa and, as then was the certain consequence, he was dismissed immediately from his job in the USSR and described as incompetent. An absurd claim. Our chair at the time saw this as an opportunity and, confidently bypassing all procedures, immediately sent him a letter saying that we thought he was thoroughly competent and offering him a position. He accepted and of course was approved. I'm skipping names because I do not remember the details with dependable accuracy.

Getting back to the standard procedure for new young faculty, note that the decision is almost entirely in the hands of the people who will be working closely with the person who is chosen. A very good approach, I think.



Ken
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#8 User is offline   PeterAlan 

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Posted 2022-September-02, 09:27

View PostLBengtsson, on 2022-September-02, 03:14, said:

I am reading in the online news feeds and on BBC World News about the two candidates for the UK's next prime minister. Looks like your recruiting criteria would pick a better candidate lol! :D

(The impression I am given is that the British press do not like either of them.)

The problem in this case is the interview panel: 160,000 of the most right-wing people in the country that are also politically active. This is the third successive such occasion, and I don't suppose the result is going to be any better this time round. [Edit: On the first occasion, the initial winnowing by MPs resulted in only one final candidate, so the broader Tory party members didn't get to vote.]

I think you're mistaken about the press - given that they can't keep Johnson, parts of it (eg Mail, Express, probably Telegraph and Sun) are quite keen on Truss; Sunak displays insufficient enthusiasm for Republican-style tax cuts. The Mirror and Guardian don't like either but won't be read by the electorate; the Times and FT might, but seem to see no point in expressing either a view of the candidates or a preference between them.

There is, of course, the famous clip from the comedy series 'Yes Prime Minister'(here @ 2:05), now 35 years old (when Margaret Thatcher was PM):

Yes Prime Minister said:

Jim Hacker (Prime Minister): Don't tell me about the press. I know exactly who reads the papers. The Daily Mirror is read by people who think they run the country; The Guardian is read by people who think they ought to run the country; The Times is read by the people who actually do run the country; the Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country; the Financial Times is read by people who own the country; the Morning Star is read by people who think the country ought to be run by another country, and the Daily Telegraph is read by people who think it is.

Sir Humphrey: Prime Minister, what about the people who read The Sun?

Bernard: Sun readers don't care who runs the country, as long as she's got big tits.

The only difference now is that the Mail has developed some of the Sun's tendencies, especially on its nauseating but very popular website.
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#9 User is offline   thepossum 

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Posted 2022-September-02, 17:58

Funny recollection about the Telegraph widely regarded as a branch of the Tories and a very senior Labour MP in the 70s thought it had the best journalism

The most wonderful thing about that TV show is how we all are convinced that's how it is.
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#10 User is offline   mycroft 

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Posted 2022-September-05, 09:15

Interestingly enough, academia has a leg up over most business; since everything is (supposed to be) public (okay, I don't know how some of the labs getting DoD or equivalent funding do it, but even they publish *some things* [1]), you get to pore over the papers and get a good idea of the person's competence at - the things that produce publications, at least.

Business is different - almost 100% of the things I've ever done are owned by my (current or former) employers, and I couldn't show it to a new potential employer if I wanted to. Of course, they'll ask for samples of my work anyway, and that leaves people who don't "code for fun and for a living" in a bind. I'm a bridge director for fun...

Quote

I'm skipping names because I do not remember the details with dependable accuracy.
Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky? (Prof. Lehrer's caveats should be considered agreed by me here)


[1] In my academic field, viz. Shannon's two seminal papers; the second one published in 1948, the first in 1949. I wonder why... In other fields, about half of Derek Lowe's Things I Won't Work With category are basically "the declassified parts of advanced explosives research".
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#11 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2022-September-05, 14:26

View Postmycroft, on 2022-September-05, 09:15, said:

Interestingly enough, academia has a leg up over most business; since everything is (supposed to be) public (okay, I don't know how some of the labs getting DoD or equivalent funding do it, but even they publish *some things* [1]), you get to pore over the papers and get a good idea of the person's competence at - the things that produce publications, at least.

Business is different - almost 100% of the things I've ever done are owned by my (current or former) employers, and I couldn't show it to a new potential employer if I wanted to. Of course, they'll ask for samples of my work anyway, and that leaves people who don't "code for fun and for a living" in a bind. I'm a bridge director for fun...

Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky? (Prof. Lehrer's caveats should be considered agreed by me here)


[1] In my academic field, viz. Shannon's two seminal papers; the second one published in 1948, the first in 1949. I wonder why... In other fields, about half of Derek Lowe's Things I Won't Work With category are basically "the declassified parts of advanced explosives research".


Most of my stories are repeats, probably this one also, but when I was a graduate student a fellow student worked at NSA over the summer. When he got back we had the following conversation:
What did you do at NSA?
Worked.
Could you be more specific?
No.

I don't know if he had to report me for being so inquisitive. Such stories abound.



Ken
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#12 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2022-September-05, 14:56

View Postthepossum, on 2022-September-02, 05:58, said:

Why would anyone with any merit at all apply to such an organisation

Maybe because there aren't many alternatives?

Not to mention that there's no way for the applicants to know which organizations are like this, unless they know a hiring manager there.

#13 User is offline   mycroft 

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Posted 2022-September-06, 09:24

Heh, this was almost certainly much later, but it was only a few years before I started grad work in 1994 that (according to my Cryptanalysis professor) people were even allowed to say (at professional conferences) that the NSA existed... It was still known as "No Such Agency".

I still remember that one person's .sig file on sci.crypt: "The NSA is hiring in all facets of advanced mathematical research, not just cryptanalysis. If you're interested in investigating positions with us, call your mother and let her know."
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#14 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2022-September-07, 13:03

View Postmycroft, on 2022-September-06, 09:24, said:

Heh, this was almost certainly much later, but it was only a few years before I started grad work in 1994 that (according to my Cryptanalysis professor) people were even allowed to say (at professional conferences) that the NSA existed... It was still known as "No Such Agency".

In the 80's I was a programmer on the Honeywell Multics development team. This being one of the most secure operating systems, it was a poorly-kept secret that the NSA (or maybe it was the CIA) was one of our customers. But when they showed up at our customer conferences, their nametags said they worked for something like the Dept of Agriculture.

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