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E-recruiting 9

(August 24, 2004)
What is the role of assessment in e-HR?

We have yet to see an assessment system that is useful for predicting the real fit between a potential employee and a new job. What we're looking for is a tool that predicts the magic that happens when the right employee is slotted to the right job. We know you've seen it happen.

After 15 different tries, we've finally landed the right sales manager. His impact on the total organization can not be understated. From morale improvements to a profound sense of momentum, the perfect player was a surprise. We of course, expected great things from our new hire. We never anticipated that the world would change. We'd made so many poor hiring decisions in the recent past that the notion that this one would be significantly different was nearly impossible to imagine.

We don't think we're alone. Hiring is a treacherous business, laden with downside risk from the hiring manager's perspective. Long past the idealistic notion that a new hire is anything but more work, the hiring manager understandably procrastinates decision making and action. A known evil (short staffing) is always preferable to an unknown evil (one more repetition of the bad hiring cycle).

While the role of assessment and hiring could be visionary functions in the organization, they often turn out to be dangerous paths laden with opportunities to fail. The reason that a "passive job seeker" (a currently employed worker who is not looking for a job) is often preferable is that they are currently making an observable contribution and haven't been marginalized (laid off or fired). That at least raises the likelihood that the damage of hiring will be minimized. Hiring managers are so used to making the most out of the least usable resources that they hardly ever imagine a better world.

Currently, the primary use of assessment is the development of a legally defensible hiring strategy. In a regulation rich environment, some common sense hiring practices must be buffered in order to be usable. Few assessment companies dare to ask their customers to imagine a world in which each new hire or reassignment was better than expected. The whole game is devoted to managing expectations in a downward direction.

Simply put, assessment is a technology whose time has come but whose practitioners are floundering. A diet of contracts that were essentially mandated prevented the development of smart tools that really facilitated the "dream hire". The market is wide open. Assessment needs to become an integral part of corporate hiring decision making. There is a logical and important fit in the scheme of things. Current approaches just don't appear to hack it.

- John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

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Materials written by John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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         Materials written
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         © TwoColorHat.
         All Rights Reserved.