March 15, 2022

Biases As Requirements – Let’s Re-Evaluate

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There is a lot to consider when crafting a job description and likely some unintended consequences of spinning one together without thinking about how it may limit your potential candidate pool.

In our recent Talent Insights Series, Zac Colip (VP, Tech Practice), Ryan Brown (Director, HR Practice), and Emily Goor (Director, Sales Practice) discuss the pitfalls of limiting a search on some common biases including title/rank, years of experience, job-hoppiness, big versus small company experience and keywords. This can be helpful for audiences building a job description or putting together a resume. 

Check it out!

Episode Transcript

We’re really excited. We have a leader on our tech practice. We haven’t seen Colip on here in a minute have we? It’s been a moment. It’s been a moment. Let’s bring him on in. Let’s bring him in. Hey Zac. Hey guys, how’s it going? It’s great. How are you doing, being back from Mexico? We enjoyed some time with you last week.

Yeah it’s colder, but it’s good to be back with- you seem like you’re still radiating the heat though. Like I cannot believe how much color you’ve got. I know, I was curious if I could do this with like the video off. So I don’t give anybody a sunburn out there. We’re feeling- we’re feeling it. Yeah. It’s going to transition to a nice tan any day now,

I’m sure. Yeah, I’m sure. Any day. Well, thank you so much for joining us. Before we kinda get started will you- we see your face on LinkedIn a lot, but just in case anyone’s new here, will you quickly introduce yourself? Who are you and what do you do at Hirewell? Sure. I’m the Vice President of our Tech Practice.

I’ve been here for over nine years and I also host the Tech Leaders Hiring Well, a series where we interview tech leaders, if anybody out there is interested. I love that series. It’s so cool that you started doing that. And I like that people are getting into content now. James has been pushing it for a long time, so I’m glad you’ve joined the dark side with us Zac.

It’s good to be here. Happy to have you. Well, we wanted to kind of talk to you like we’ve been discussing this actually for months and kind of had you slated down for this topic because we know, we know that you love talking about it. So we kind of want to talk to you a little bit about some like biases that we see

in recruiting. So kind of starting off, what are just some of the general biases that you encounter when you’re partnering with clients? Yeah, there’s quite a few biases that you probably don’t even think when you’re like putting together your resume or really even putting together a job description on the hiring side.

But I think like thinking about these things can kind of change the results of either your interview process or the people that apply to the position. The biggest one that I see like a big difference in is like title and rank bias. Everybody’s looking for certain titles, but companies all go by different titles and ranks.

So it’s really tough to judge who fits where in the organization. So that’s one you gotta be kind of careful about how you present yourself in. Another thing is years of experience. Years of experience is tough because like, what’s the difference between three years of experience and four years experience? But hiring managers will eliminate people for that.

And so don’t ever discount, like just throwing up the year that you started. Throw in the month, you know, think about it. Also, I think folks need to be more cognizant about age-ism in general. There’s older folks that can definitely do the job. There’s younger folks that can step up to the plate and kind of surprise people.

Another thing is like the number of jobs, like the number and duration of jobs. Job hoppiness is probably the biggest thing we see like you folks getting pinged for when the clients don’t want to interview them. So it’s something to be cognizant of as you approach your career. And then like career gaps, education in a previous

organizations like big versus small organizations, startups like really look for folks that come from startup environments. That’s like a big one. Likewise, like big companies want people coming from big companies. And then keywords and then length of like the resume were the last two that I kind of pinpointed as being big ticket items that we see come up quite a bit.

Yeah, that’s an extensive list, but you’re right with all of those. I can wholeheartedly say that I have had hiring managers push back on every single one of those items throughout my recruiting career. And I think it’s interesting to think about too, like the number and duration of jobs and how that has changed with regards to COVID too.

Like people are willing to make a move sooner than maybe they have before, because happiness is important to them or flexibility or whatever it may be. And a lot of people have jobs cut short due to that, too. So being able to think about those things and educate our clients and kind of push back on certain areas, I think is important because you could lose out on really great candidates if you’re using these as essentially requirement’s of whether or not somebody can be a good fit.

So Zac, what kind of advice would you give to companies that hold these biases as requirements for a candidate? Yeah, really I think the biggest thing here is, traditionally I think, especially like on the tech side of things, companies have really looked for specific profiles and now like the market is extremely hot and

you kind of got to loosen some requirements to get a bigger candidate flow. And so thinking about some of these things and which ones you’re comfortable with loosening, I think is a smart way to approach searches that maybe you’ve been struggling with. Also consider that people from say for instance, for the big versus startup kind of thing, people come in with different perspectives from different organizations.

And sometimes you don’t even know what you need until you bring them in or start interviewing them and realize that it could be a real asset for your company. That’s a great point for sure. Totally. And that just adds like a sense of diversity to the team too, right? Because they’re coming in with different perspectives and different experiences that they actually-

you know, if you were biased and had eliminate them, you might lose out on that fresh perspective and something awesome that they could add to your team. Yup, exactly, exactly. And I think there’s a real temptation to throw down kind of like every requirement you would want in a perfect candidate.

And I think you do more harm than good in that respect. And then there’s like another thing that I always think about it’s like when you’re putting together a job description sometimes they’re put together really quickly, you don’t have much time and it’s sloppily done. But then when you see resumes coming through, you’re like, no, that’s too sloppy.

It’s a double-edged sword, you gotta be careful. Agreed. Look in the mirror! That’s awesome. I mean, is there any advice that you could give candidates, like things that they could include on their resume or on their LinkedIn to kind of fight against these industry biases. Yeah. So I think the biggest thing that is useful is to think about these things in the beginning of your career,

right? Think about how important they are and then hopefully you can think about these decisions you’re making in your career and think how they’re reflecting to employers. That’s probably the biggest piece of advice. But also be prepared to talk about these things. Like if it’s something that you think may be a concern or

if you have like a jumpy background, be ready to explain the reasons for leaving, what you’re wanting to do now, and like why they should hire you. Also, I think the biggest thing is like, it’s hard, but tailor your resume for every job differently, right. And try to make it appeal.

So if you’re applying to a startup, think about like the things that you’ve done that would appeal to a startup. That makes total sense because even like I’ve talked to candidates who might work at a giant company but then I come to find out once I talked to them like, oh, I helped launch this small product or this small team or this innovation at the company.

That experience will lend itself so well at a startup. So that makes total sense what you’re saying is just like be specific and include- you’re right. It is kind of a pain sometimes to have to change your resume for every single job but I think that it’s really useful. Yeah, absolutely.

And I mean, I see this a ton in like tech but I’m sure you guys see it in your fields as well. 100%. Yeah. You know what, I’ve actually noticed recently, especially for folks that were impacted by COVID related layoff, putting in if something like that happened like on your actual resume, right? Like the reason why this role ended was we went through a merger or it was impacted by a COVID related layoff. You can include that information and it doesn’t have to be an entire story.

It can literally be just a few words, that can help a ton. And I’m a huge advocate of people optimizing their LinkedIn profile too. You have so much space there that you can use and really tell your story. So like utilize the tools that you have at hand and one of them is going to be LinkedIn. So use that space the best of your ability.

Yeah, actually I just did a post about this yesterday where like LinkedIn has opened up all these different reasons for career gaps. Just throwing the idea that like it’s okay to have career gaps and it seems like managers, hiring managers are becoming more okay with it especially with COVID, but hopefully it’s something we continue seeing down the road here,

so. I hope so. This is super helpful. I like this talent insight because it kind of gives advice to companies, but also kind of give some advice to candidates as well. So I always like when we can kind of get both perspectives. Yeah. Hopefully everybody’s stayed tune through the whole episode here. I think we got their attention. For sure.

 

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