Agnes Uhereczky is a consultant, podcaster and workplace transformer. She is the co-founder of the WorkLife HUB.
How do you explain the 2 years break you took to look after your child? Or the other time-out for caring for an ill parent or relative? Well, there are websites helping you to fill the gaps in your CV with a variety of tricks and tips, some useful, some downright fraud, like writing in key-words in white ink into your CV to trick the software screening it.
We are not used to gaps in the 21st century. Every minute is utilised to check on e-mails, to send out tweets, to connect on social media, to show we are always on, always working and present. And this in turn suits perfectly highly motivated individuals geared towards achieving great careers, but if you have family obligations, have an important hobby or want to continue education, or as a matter of fact would like to embrace a more spiritual, less outwardly way of life – well, it won’t bode well for your next career move.
Finding the Perfect candidate
The vast majority of companies still hire their employees via traditional channels, through advertising and recruitment companies, and the recruitment process is not immune to trends in digitalisation and optimization.
In a parallel development, as frequent job change is becoming the norm; everyone is always looking for new opportunities, greater challenges. This means that recruiters are swamped with applications, and not only from available candidates.
In addition, one of the most important success indicators of recruiters, or the HR person responsible for recruitment internally, is the ‘time to fill’, how quickly a vacant position can be filled, much to the delight of line managers and colleagues, who don’t have to pick up the slack for the missing pair of hands.
So on the one hand we have:
- pressures to recruit quickly;
- pushing to digitised and safe recruitment process (down the trodden path);
- in most cases built around the profile of the person who left the job, with some additional person specifications thrown in.
On the other:
- growing number of women, who want to re-enter the workforce after leaves;
- growing diversity in the working and job-seeking population;
- increasing differentiation of educational, training and career pathways;
- growing need for companies to be more innovative and diverse to reach new markets, new clients and develop new products and services.
Everybody is a job-seeker
Air BnB, a very coveted employer needed to fill 1000 vacancies over the past 2 years. They received a staggering 180.000 applications. It absolutely boggles my mind, how they processed all of them, for sure with the aid of some clever algorithms.
About 75% of applications, according to some recruitment experts, are not qualified for the job, and only 2% make it to the interview. These are pretty staggering numbers, especially if your CV has a number of gaps, your career was more of a maze than a ladder and you disrupted your career and profession several times over.
As now the parts of the job that could be done by a computer, are pretty much done by a computer, companies need to shift their mind-set from looking for technicians to recruiting problem solvers, negotiators, and empathisers, people who have a very broad experience. And as a mum of two boys, I can safely say, I am a problem solving ninja who could broker a peace deal in major conflict zones. But this, of course, wouldn’t show up on my CV.
Some companies have tampered with anonymous CVs, but my favourite bold recruiter I know of is the BBC. They take breaking the Ideal worker Mould so seriously, they recruit via anonymous online challenges. Even if you are a gay, immigrant self-taught programmer with a disability, you have the same chance as a person with a computer science degree from one of the most prestigious schools.
When life takes over and major life events disrupt our careers, our experiences become richer, our skills get tested, our priorities straightened. We develop our patience, our sensitivity, our time-management skills.
So dear companies looking to recruit great people on your teams: look for the gaps, look for the stories, find out about the experiences. And take the opportunity this new hire offers you to ask yourself: what needs to get done, and who could get it done. What are the skills, competences and experiences that would empower someone to do an amazing job for you, and forget the person specification.
I am honoured to be an Ambassador for the IESE Women in Leadership of IESE Business School up-coming conference "The (New) Ideal Worker" organised in Barcelona on the 3-4 July 2017. This Blog article is the first in a series ahead of the event.