Sitting idly on the recruiting front lines today, I was thinking back today to a state HR conference that I attended last year. One of the key note speakers was brought in from half way across the country to share her perspective on the human resource profession, and working with a diverse workforce in particular. This person was a humorist, whose dynamic and comically irreverent presentation style provided a great release to the HR professionals in attendance. During her speech, she covered all of the non-traditional diversity issues- the happy person, the curmudgeon, the martyr, the pleaser, the introverts, the extroverts, and everyone in between. I think it is very true to say that we are all diverse in our own ways.
At another HR meeting, I recently heard a speaker espousing the virtues of including people with disabilities into the diversity conversation, and the potential benefits of hiring said people. During her talk, she made a quip about how we are all disabled in some way, but for most of us, you just can’t see the disability. Of course she was referring to all of our personal disabilities such as perpetual tardiness, short attention spans, closed-mindedness, fear of confrontation, hubris, need for acceptance, and all the other personality disabilities that impede our ability to act with grace and tact in all situations. I have to also agree with this speaker- everyone has their own special disabilities.
Having said that, I also feel that too many people seem too ready to put people into boxes based on their age, work experience, or any other personal trait. It’s my feeling that all people are unique, but so rarely do we, as recruiters, employers, managers, co-workers, employees, friends, or relatives, take the time to get to know and work with those unique characteristics of our acquaintances.
I recall a workshop that discussed working in a multi-generational milieu. The presenter spoke about the work-related differences for people in different age groups – check out this article on age diversity in the workforce for a glimpse of what I’m talking about- and how we all fall into broad categories. Now, as an idealist, non-conformist, and believer in self-direction, my first reaction is to react negatively, with thoughts about why these categories are too general, and make too great of an assumption. However, as I listened to the speaker (and as I read further down the article attached), I find myself agreeing with the opinions put forth.
What I end up with is a great inner debate on how to deal with people, and particularly with first impressions and screening of candidates when I am hiring. There are only so many hours in a day, after all, so how can I be open to the potential greatness and uniqueness of seemingly unfit applicants, while using my experience and intuition to ferret out the best candidates quickly and efficiently? I have seen enough anomalies to know that you can’t judge an employee’s fit or performance by a resume. So… how do you weed through 75 resumes to find the right candidate?
Well, I hope you’re not expecting an answer. That’s not a hypothetical question. Can anyone tell me how you best narrow down all applicants, keeping into account all peoples uniqueness, casting aside personal preferences, to find the best candidate?
In the world that I live, work, and play (not necessarily in that order), I do see a workforce evolving dramatically from the one I entered 15 or so years ago. Different motivators, different rules, different expectations. HR professionals and managers at all levels, in my mind, have a more difficult job than they have ever had before.
MY (SECOND) QUESTION OF THE DAY: What is the best interview question that you use to uncover potential personality fit?