Hiring Innovators 101

In the final stages of spinning down Churnless (January 1st, here we come), I’ve received a steady trickle of job offers for February, after I spend a month catching up on sleep and doing a whole lot of product advisement that I promised to various folks over the years.  But there are some companies I’d particularly love to work for and some jobs I’d particularly love to do, so I still fill out job applications occassionally.

Which leads me to the following note to all executives everywhere: if you want to hire more innovative people, make your job application process less painful (lower inhibiting pressures; dual proess theory at work). Companies are constantly bemoaning the lack of talent available to them and how much it takes to buy it, but attracting good talent isn’t always about throwing money around.

At the most basic level, just improve your technology. IDEO has one of the worst job application websites I’ve seen. Ditto JetBlue. Even Google, a profoundly tech company, has a shockingly bad UI when it comes to applying. All three are innovative companies who could potentially become even more innovative, if finding good fits wasn’t quite so painful.

It is about more than just appearance, though most sites do look sadly like a bunch of forms pages from 2001. The actual functionality of the site: whether you can submit a prepared resume or have to retype it into a plain text box. Yes, I know you want to be able to use automated parsing to run matching algorithms and keep info in a database, but by forcing applicants to adjust to you instead of meeting them halfway, you guarantee that some number of truly talented people will give up and simply go work at a local startup that they can walk right into and get hired on a handshake and a resume in whatever format best expresses their background.

And if you do need structured data, please just let me import it from LinkedIn. Unless they are your absolute direct competitor (and probably even then), we’ve all pretty much agreed that LinkedIn is going to be the professional directory for now and in the same way that sites accept .doc uploads even if they hate Microsoft, it is time to let me import.

The three tips version:

  1. Allow people to upload resumes in multiple formats.
  2. Make your jobs website visually and philosophically fit with your brand (not just your position listings but your whole application process).
  3. Import LinkedIn if you absolutely need structured data.

an N of 1: in statistics, a sample size of 1 has almost no validity. in life, this is less true.