Why We Need a New Way to Hire

Hiring Mar 18, 2020

The future of work will bring new organizational structures and an emphasis on different skills like collaboration and adaptability. The way hiring is done today is no longer fit for purpose. Both candidates and employers are frustrated.

Swyg is on a mission to reinvent hiring for the modern world. In this post, we want to share 6 principles that drive us.


1: New models of work require new hiring practices

Technology and automation have changed the way we do our jobs and even what jobs we do. The rate of this change continues to accelerate. Because of that, adaptability, collaboration skills, and the ability to learn are becoming even more crucial skills for all of us.

The ability to work across functions and to adapt to a fast-changing world is much more important than it was 50 years ago.

Surprisingly, the way companies hire has not changed much in the last 50 years. Most candidates still apply to a job by sending a CV or resume in response to a job posting. Yet, a text-based profile or a LinkedIn page, doesn't tell you anything about the most essential skills of the future: a person’s ability to collaborate, learn and adapt.

2: We must look beyond the resume

New ways to learn and upskill are rapidly growing. Online courses, self-study and on-the-job learning are the primary ways for people to acquire up to date skills. Because of that, it’s more common today for employees to move between companies at all stages in their career, and will switch fields entirely several times throughout their lives.

Because all of us can now acquire knowledge much more easily, traditional predictors of success, such as college degrees or past job titles are no longer effective selection tools. We must look beyond the resume to understand a person.

3: People are more than the sum of their past job titles

People want growth in their professional lives. Using past job titles as the only predictor of future performance assumes implicitly that people cannot change. It means that the first few years of your career will define you for the rest of your life. That’s just wrong.

It’s also ineffective for employers. It’s really attractive to try to poach that senior engineer from Google when you infer this means they must be good at their job. But if all companies hire on the same indicators (usually past job titles/companies) everyone is competing over the same small subset of employees. This hurts retention, drives up salaries, and means that a wider pool of qualified candidates never gets a chance.

This focus on pedigree also amplifies bias: companies hire from the same set of top schools and top companies but those factors often correlate with gender, race, and religion. This is also the reason that automated text-based screening tools can fail disastrously.

4: Candidates and employers should be treated on equal footing

Hiring great people is a key pathway for companies to bring knowledge and new perspectives into their organization. So why not start using that knowledge during the hiring process? Candidates are smart and they have fresh insights into their field of expertise that a company may not yet possess.

Current processes are often too one-sided, focused on the needs of the company instead of focusing on what a candidate can offer. That’s why a typical job spec still looks like a wish-list for hiring managers.

The assumption that this is the only way to do things must be questioned. Instead, why not include candidates in a meaningful way both while defining a role and even in deciding who to hire.

Transparency, inclusivity, and feedback should be part of the process by design, not an add-on after the fact.

Feedback should not be optional.
Feedback should not be optional.

5: A lack of qualified applicants is a symptom, not a cause

Candidates find most application processes frustrating and time-consuming while companies can eliminate candidates too early due to a reliance on poor indicators like keywords. There’s little feedback during the process as to why a candidate may ultimately be progressing and none if they are unsuccessful. These issues can deter good candidates from applying and can even motivate candidates to abandon the process midway. Think of the application process as a first date - you want to find out if it’s a good fit, but it’s also important to make a good impression.

An even more fundamental barrier is how we define qualified. Because of all the reasons mentioned above, defining qualifications relative to the years of experience listed on a resume is a sure way to miss out on some of the best people you’ll ever have the chance to work with.

6: Automation alone will not solve all problems

We want to hire people, not robots - automation that makes recruitment less human is ultimately detrimental. There is a right and a wrong way to use technology in hiring. Automation done poorly simply offloads work to candidates without any additional benefits to them (for example by having them re-type their CV into an application form). While artificial intelligence tools have the potential to reduce bias, it also the potential to amplify bias.

Automation should make the process better for both sides, while retaining the human elements as well as the quality of the selection process.

How to begin the journey

  • Give people the opportunity to surprise you.
  • Take a chance on someone (taking calculated risks is a competitive advantage).
  • Hire remotely (that’s not the same as outsourcing).
  • Don’t leave the hiring decisions to a single person (because everyone has bias).
  • Accept that there is more than one path to success and that the definition of success is something that can change.

We hope you will join us on our journey - We are open to differing opinions and other perspectives and we would love to hear what you think.