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Letter to Leaders


Every day, we make assumptions and judgements about people we work for, work with, and who work for us.

That's normal, and those assumptions become true over time, because the more time we spend with someone, the more information we have to make an accurate assessment. That's how lifelong friends are made and kept.

But when we're in hiring mode, those assumptions become inaccurate.

Completely, utterly and fantastically inaccurate.

Here are some examples:

  • "This candidate is overqualified". Means we'll have to pay this candidate too much money, or they will leave us the second a better job comes along, or they are too old for the position.

  • "This candidate graduated college in 1986". Means they are too old to learn new technologies or can't adapt quickly enough.

  • "This candidate worked for 4 different companies in the past 10 years". Means they are unreliable millennials who will stay only 16.3 months. Moreover, they don't know what they want to do, but will ask for 8 weeks of paid vacation and work from home 4 days a week,

Here's what happens when we make those assumptions:

We lose out on potentially great employees in an era where there are 5 million more jobs that people will to fill them.

The difference between a great hirer of talent and a bad one is that the great one is willing to dig a little deeper.

A resume or employment application tells you less than half the story. It's the primary reason that resume screening software fails. Although it saves you time.

Simple questions can elicit answers you want to hear that take those ridiculous assumptions and convert them into solutions for job openings.

  • "What's your favorite app on your phone?"

  • "What new technology have you learned in the past year?"

  • "Why did you leave this job (and that job, and that job)?"

  • "You clearly exceed the requirements for this job. Why are you applying for it?"

Never assume because the candidate is 60 years old that they don't know or are unable to learn technology.

Never assume, because someone is a millennial that they don't know what they want to do with their lives. Or that they slack off, or aren't committed.

I've seen hundreds of exceptions to these rules, and so have you.

And the amazing thing is...we know this! We spend fortunes on pre-hire testing because we don't trust our own judgement. We take courses in how to interview or select or identify talent. (I recently finished reading a 700-page book in hiring processes and am still woozy from the experience).

When Generation Z came of age in the workplace (about 2016), every consultant with a PowerPoint presentation told us what to expect:

  • They are pragmatic and financially conservative

  • They are politically progressive

  • They are socially minded

  • They are sad and lonely because they've spent hours online

If you make that assumption, you're missing out. Generalizations like this are just as inappropriate as saying "Asians are smart" or "if someone is old they can't learn technology".

Stop making assumptions. Stop allowing "experts" to tell you how to think. Find out for yourself.

And that starts with treating every an individual.


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