Faith in Algorithms?

Some jobs are easy to fill with an online search tool. For example, for a contract IT programmer position, there are several candidates readily accessible after a few clicks and the application of algorithms – or search rules. Similarly, because entry-level management candidates among today’s college grads swarm to social media in their job outreach, they are easily searchable through Facebook, Linked In, and hundreds of other social media platforms. This is the pool from which highly-advertised services “find the perfect candidate.”

At least that is what they advertise. The question, though, is can you find someone for YOUR opening with an online tool?

My contention is that the more complicated and nuanced the job, the less likely it is that an algorithm can be harnessed to fill it. Role players are one thing; finding senior leadership is an entirely different challenge.

Hiring great candidates for senior positions is difficult online, because:

  • Profiles are often out-of-date, and incomplete. Why? Because great candidates are usually not looking and many tend to ignore self-marketing. They're too busy working.
  • Candidates with more flash than actual occupational skills and experience tend to crowd out the quieter, loyal performers.
  • Many of us don’t like to toot our horn, and thus do not effectively convey our skills and achievements online, nor in our resumes. Or do you want a relentless self-promoter?
  • Job hoppers are easy to find, but do you really want a job hopper?

Hiring managers: if you have ever done a time survey of your own activities, you, like most other executives, can list pages of key functions you manage each week. These are complex, varied and yet also interwoven, and all are important to the role. In order to write a proper online search-algorithm to find people with such skills, your HR rep would have to include a representative and weighted sample – at the least – of the position’s key functions, and trust that the pool of online candidates would include profiles listing those same functions in order to generate a match.

So, you'll get a good pool of candidates IF you write a detailed, clear job description, and IF your potential pool of candidates are likewise visible with detailed, clear online profiles, and IF you can filter away the 'bad fits' who insist on applying anyway...

“I need someone to fit tab A into slot B 500 times a day” is easier to explain, in algorithm terms, than the weighted and varied competencies required of senior management. Nor can an algorithm define cultural aspects of personality fit, aptitude, work ethic and curiosity.

As a retained search firm specializing in construction and utility leadership in the Upper Midwest, we make assessments and sift candidates far beyond the level of an algorithm. We find people who aren’t chronically looking for their next position. We find people without an inflated social media presence who are missed when you only search online. Our focus in on long-term fit and in order to do that, we specialize. Don’t call us for a contract programmer. But if you need a construction or utilities professional for a key leadership position, we’ll help ensure you hire right, the first time.

Tom Jackson, Executive Recruiter and Team Builder,


About Rauenhorst Recruiting

In today’s business climate, Rauenhorst Recruiting consistently demonstrates its proprietary retained search process results in strategic hires that drive revenue and propel real, profitable business growth. Rauenhorst Recruiting has a long history of building teams for many top firms in Minnesota and the United States.

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