Recruiters: Stop playing God

Sometimes it is the small things that remind you of a bigger issue.  I was in my hotel room in Berlin on Wednesday night when I saw a tweet from Katie McNab, Recruiter for PepsiCo about women who use their partner’s email addresses on job applications. In her words,

“It makes them look like children who can’t be trusted with their own comms”

We had a bit of back and forth over the subject and I think it is fair to say that there was little or no common ground (you can see some of the conversation here).  Katie was firm to her view that this was “inappropriate” and given that she is a recruiter, speaks at conferences and well regarded, I guess I have to bow to her superior knowledge – again in her words,

“placing judgment on people is part of the job”

and according to Katie, I was in the minority (although looking through the timeline there was only one person who agreed and one who didn’t – which is a kind of soviet democracy!).

But it has been niggling away at me. I did a little interview with DriveThru HR where we talked about the skills gaps that we are facing in the global economy.  Manpower, BCG and the CIPD have recently reported that managers were finding it more difficult to attract the right talent.  Good candidates are staying put and have a world of opportunities at their feet should they wish to move. Put simply, recruiting “talent” is going to get harder.

If you listened to the twittersphere and blogosphere you’d understandably be mistaken for believing that the answer is to “go social” and of course that is an element of changing attraction strategies.  But it seems to me we also need to challenge some of the institutional slothfulness of in-house recruiters. Katie is right, we all make assumptions about people, that is human, but we need to be challenging these and minimising them – not celebrating them in public.

Recruitment isn’t about judging people, it is about discovering people.

And recruiters need to stop playing God.

As well as being quasi-discriminatory (although I am sure not in intent) diminishing an application because of a candidate’s CHOSEN means of communication is either naïve, arrogant or idiotic in the extreme – I really can’t decide which.  There is absolutely no legal, morale, organisational or rational argument behind doing so. There could be a million reasons that an individual chooses to include a partner’s email on an application but that is their choice.

Increasingly we will need to be searching for talent, lifting up rocks, thinking creatively about how we bring people in, how we train them, how we help them to meet the requirements of the job and leave our own prejudices and judgments at the door.  The good companies and recruiters will get this and make a name or career for themselves. The bad ones? Well they’ll keep talking the talk in public, but failing to walk the walk where it really matters.

Which, let’s be honest, is no bad thing really.

It just makes it easier for the rest of us.