When I look at the changing trends that have taken place since I became a headhunter in 1992, the most notable is the advent and increased reliance on technology that is supplanting traditional human interaction.
One of the areas where it is most evident, for me, is the job application and interview process. The downside is the obvious degradation of soft skills and interpersonal communication abilities of all involved in the hiring process. For all of the technology at our fingers tips, which is indeed useful and necessary, our abilities to communicate are suffering. When it comes to interacting directly with other people; when we can’t hide behind our devices, we’re more uncomfortable and awkward than ever. And when I do speak with some people what comes out of their mouths has little relevance. Increasingly they speak in generic terms and are not really saying much of anything.
Job seekers are increasingly clueless about the most basic tasks of presenting themselves and demonstrating to hiring managers why they should be chosen for a job, instead of someone else. Even worse, those who are tasked with interviewing, evaluating and selecting those whom they need to hire are not much better. They increasingly will do anything to avoid face-to-face interaction with applicants until it is absolutely necessary. Sure, they can say all they want about technology saving time, efficiency and indeed I do believe that was the original intent. But now, the time saving tools have become a crutch, a barrier to hide behind so they don’t have to actually meet people or worse, have to speak with them! It’s getting so bad that many decision makers increasingly lack confidence in their own conclusions without some tech tool telling them, “its okay, go ahead”.
The handshake and initial face-to-face screening interview has been replaced with a Skype call. But as that is not really a meeting nor is it an opportunity to get to know you, you’ll need to take a psychometric evaluation to understand what motivates you to determine your suitability, as well as to look for red flags and warning signs. They could of course meet you and ask, trusting in their own instincts but that might take up too much of their precious time. Later, if you are determined to be suitable when measured against their metrics, they’ll finally meet you - to discuss the results. I wonder if this method of making a decision based on a test actually results in better hires, better employee retention and less turnover and fewer bad hires, because many companies are paying a lot of money to evaluate that which they are no longer capable of doing on their own. But I am sure the companies that produce all the software we over-rely upon, that makes modern hiring possible, have plenty of marketing evidence to show without their wares, competent decisions just cannot be made.
Their propaganda aside, all the software tools and excuses can only delay the inevitable and at some point they have to meet you and likewise, you’ll have to meet them. Are you prepared? Are you able to do that which no software program can as yet replace, that being your ability to articulate why you should be the person selected for a job for which you’re qualified? It might seem like a small thing and many people fail to consider it, but from my perspective witnessing the trends of the last couple decades, being a good communicator, possessing better than average soft skills provides you with more of an edge than you may have previously thought.
It is amazing when one considers that only 50 years ago, industry thrived and economies were strong, decisions were made before the advent of widespread computer use. Most managers lacked college degrees too. I wonder how they managed to do it - but I digress.
If you lack confidence in your ability to communicate, there is no software that will help you to improve. You can only improve your skills the old-fashioned way, by removing your face from whatever screen it’s buried in, getting out there among people, better developing your skills to interact with others.