Monday, July 14, 2014

Whose Rules?

I’ve noticed a lot of advice for job seekers is very direct, about how an individual is supposed to behave or in what manner they should conduct their activities when seeking a job. I myself am not shy about suggesting people be more directly engaged and pro-active, but I have a suggestion; when you read anything you should always take the source into account. True objectivity is rare, and especially when you read articles that project the writer’s own perspective – this is good advice anytime, regardless of the advice or commentary you read, see and hear, because you need to draw your own conclusions from whatever information is offered.
Too much of the advice I see being offered suggests that you should not actively engage or take any significant initiative, as if to do so is breaking the rules. They instead advise you to follow only the strict protocols of the status quo, as if by not attracting any special attention you will gain more attention. This is nonsense and, by the way, whose rules are these anyway – who are they meant to help the most, who benefits? (spoken in a whisper) Let me give you a hint, it isn’t you!
Too often, advice columns and blogs are written by the gate keepers, better known as human resources, whose functions include restricting access; they seek to allow entry only to those who submit and abide by their rules. May I ask the obvious question: Do you really think they have your best interests in mind? Are they at all concerned with empowering you – of course not. Rather they seek to diminish you, dictating their rituals for entrance so as to make their lives easier. Initially, your suitability is of no concern to them if it means they must change their well-worn routines. And until you jump through their hoops, they couldn’t care less about how well qualified you may be for the job. I suggest their priorities are messed up and, as such, identifying the best-qualified applicants is not the prime objective. They have a system and you are going to follow it! With this in mind, how much real value does their advice represent?
Just to illustrate what I am talking about and to have a little fun at their expense, check this out:  

No, please don’t misunderstand me, I have the utmost respect for human resource professionals who are business minded and even more so if they have actual business experience – they are great to work with. But the bureaucrats are altogether another story. And they may possess all sorts of credentials, degrees and certifications, but the vast majority are administrators who’ve assigned themselves importance and, while we’re at it, let’s bust another myth. In reality, other than staffing their own departments, they don’t hire anyone. Indeed they have a role and they should be involved in the process as it relates to initial applicant screening, and again at the end of the process to explain benefits and process paperwork. Otherwise, line managers make the hiring decisions; HR is an admin function – period. Back in the day, they were known as the Personnel Dept. -- that was their proper function, and yet, today the manner by which they insert themselves into the hiring process is actually an obstruction to effective hiring, and especially when trying to attract the best available talent.
So, ladies and gentlemen, what should you do -- obediently play along with the purposeless HR game of sit, roll over, fetch, and beg because they told you to do so, in the hope of being bestowed consideration by those who don’t even make the real decisions that matter? Do you seek out the actual hiring authority who likely speaks your professional language and actually knows better what kind of person they want to hire. Or, rather someone in human resources who is juggling many job descriptions, few or none of which they have any real understanding?
I mean no offense to those who populate human resource departments, most are nice people and they should be treated with the same level of professional courtesy as you would afford anyone else, regardless of how they may treat you. My simple suggestion is that you first attempt to seek out an actual hiring manager to whom you would report in whatever capacity it is you seek to be considered. Regardless of their level of interest they will likely refer you back to human resources. That’s okay – if you are qualified and presented yourself in the best appropriate manner and had something to say that attracted their attention, you’ve succeeded and gone to where so many others fear to tread. And what if HR admonishes you for stepping out of line? Express contrition, be gracious and, after all, it is often easier to ask forgiveness than for permission.

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