04/10/2014 10:30 am ET Updated Jun 10, 2014

Hiring Horrors!

HIRING HORRORS are the worst kinds of hiring problems because they take place in situations where everything seems just fine.


Picture the bad scary movie where the happy, good- looking teenagers are sitting around the campfire in the middle of the midnight woods singing folk songs. Everybody is smiling, singing and wholesome. But watching the screen, all of us in the audience know there are evil green zombies on steroids hovering just beyond the firelight.

HIRING HORRORS are a lot like those zombies.

HIRING HORRORS can come to life as hiring managers or applicants. Doesn't matter. What matters is that they are all part of the same broken, wasteful, soul sucking system that constitutes the way people get hired. A system that's a lot like that forest where the zombies hover, feed and get ready to destroy. That dark forest is a system. Just like hiring is a system of countless, interconnected moving parts. To understand HIRING HORRORS, one must first understand that what we're talking about here is a broken system.

So fixing the system is not about simplistic one-shot answers to 'solving the jobs problem.' Fixing the system is first all about recognizing the fact that hiring IS a systems problem that must be fixed with holistic, systems thinking.

Articles entitled "10 Easy Steps To Networking" or "Hire Faster Now!" won't work anymore. They are band-aids on a body suffering from multiple wounds. Old thinking says, 'use a band-aid.' New thinking says, 'Fix the system.'

Recognizing Hiring Horrors

Fixing the system starts with recognizing HIRING HORRORS. What do hiring horrors look like? Like this:

Preacher Networking. The Preacher is a true believe in the religious like power of networking to get any job for anyone. The individual differences in style and personality don't matter. If you don't have a job, all you need to do is network more. The fact that if you asked 5 people what the word networking meant, you'd get 5 different responses doesn't matter. The crumbling of the word's meaning doesn't matter. If a famous person accepts your Linked In invite, you've networked! Congratulations! The harder, larger, more time-consuming process of building common communities (or 'communitizing' as we called it in Finding Work When There Are No Jobs) can be ignored. Just network!

Professor Career Development. The Professor got his job because he had an advanced degree and was alum of the school. Because of him, the school can say they have a career development function. He's a HIRING HORROR because he, like all his fellow horrors, perpetuates the idea that everything is fine in building all the bridges the newly minted grad needs to find work. The Professor assesses, helps write nice resumes and doles out answers to interview questions. The idea of coaching to a defined model of higher-level principles that prompt new and different ways of thinking about the connection to work doesn't come up much with the professor. He's too busy re-writing resumes that no one will read.

Tammy Title Fiend Tammy screens resumes and she does it faster than anyone. What's her secret? If the applicant doesn't have the exact same title as the one she is filling? Tammy stamps that sucker NO! Deeper looks at the talent themes in a candidate? No time for that. Too soft. Squishy. If the person had the same experience at the last job, that's enough for Tammy to say YES!

Clarence Contractor. Clarence is a middleman. His company, a national firm, hires and onboards temp employees for other major firms. When HR wants to out source? They call Clarence. In Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath, Clarence would have been the straw boss who showed the migrant workers to the shacks where they'd be living. On the way they'd stop at The Company Store, the workers sole choice for food shopping. Today that store is on line, cutting corners on quality hiring in every way possible, squeezing out margins in add on products for the workers when possible. Steinbeck's vision is still alive. Just ask Clarence.

Jimmy Job Board. In the past year, because he is part of the long term unemployed, Jimmy has sent resumes and cover letters to 6, 032 job ads. Most of them blind. No one ever told him that people prefer to not hire strangers. Or that the success rate of job boards hovers between 1-3% ---depending on who is counting. Jimmy is simply doing what people have always done. He still believes that getting a job and being qualified for a job are the same thing.

Ernestine Easy. Ernestine reads every web site, article and list of tips there are on job search. Because she's convinced that somewhere there is a quick, easy way to find work. Like a key to a magic kingdom. The radical thought that there IS no quick and easy way to find a job would make her scratch her head and say "What?"

Rickey Resume. He's spent $600 to have someone write his resume. Because a good resume is what gets a job. Right?

X. Pert Author. How do you get a job? Simple. Do what I did! The Career Development business is big business and X is a master at turning a profit from his "how-to" books. All of which have the same message: follow these steps and do what I did.

Lost to X. Pert, is the idea that every single job search is different. That "how to get a job" is NOT a useful question because in our irrational SYSTEM of finding work, there IS no 'how-to.'

Debbie Defeet. Don't tell Debbie she'll find work. She has convinced herself she won't. That there is nothing she can do about it. Lost within the broken system populated with advice peddlers telling everyone that their way is the only way, she's right. Compound that with hiring systems oblivious to talent and she is really right. Oh, and thinking differently about work to find your own way? That has to be just another scam. Right?

In fact, Debbie was half tempted to toss a nasty comment out, right here. Right now. She had just read this very article and she STILL didn't have a job! So this was a waste of time too!

But then she noticed something strange. No one here was telling her what to do. The message here was different. The message was a question. "How do I think differently about work search and hiring?" Debbie read a story that prompted her to ask that question out loud. And then the most amazing thing happened. She had the thought, "What if I . . . ." And the end of the question was something she had never done before. Some action that was totally her.

Something that has never been done before. Kills off HIRING HORRORS every time.