Intelligence Failure

With better translators and interpreters, could events such as 9/11 or 7/7 have been avoided? Many experts seem to think so, and steps have been taken to strengthen our country’s ability to process communications.

Meanwhile, industry is suffering an intelligence failure of its own, resulting in a massive waste of time, money and human capital.

The culprit? A collective inability to effectively translate job requirements into plain English and interpret poorly written resumes.

If the syntax used in the employment game could be improved, employers would save millions of hours – and pounds – from unnecessary interviews, anxious hiring decisions and dysfunctional employment relationships.

Here are three simple ways to clarify the language of requisitions and resumes:

  1. Replace the concept of “job descriptions” with “business objectives.” Too often, employers define a job as a collection of skills or keywords, rather than the desired outcome that drives the piece of work needed to be done. Since a job’s objective ultimately defines the skills necessary to do the job, the objective should receive top billing.
  2. Prioritize the job objectives. Too often, companies reach a state of hiring gridlock, in which conflicting or mutually exclusive goals serve to disqualify a field of perfectly good candidates. If the job entails more than two or three hard-core objectives, then minimize the number of objectives or split the job in two.
  3. Write (and look for) resumes that document accomplishments chronologically. Hiring managers can’t make an informed decision without knowing what a job seeker has done in the past, and when (and where) he did it. In most cases, “summary” resumes are counterproductive, because they tend to be too vague and require too much effort to interpret. In contrast, an explicit chronological accounting of employment and educational credentials can simplify the evaluation process, and “fast-track” a deserving candidate.

My role as a recruiter is to make sure the employer’s business objectives are clearly stated, and that a candidate’s resume accurately reflects his past performance. Once these two conditions are satisfied, I can spend less time translating, and more time searching for talent.