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Ask the Headhunter: Why can’t new grads get jobs? Automated interviews

Nick Corcodilos started headhunting in Silicon Valley in 1979 and has answered over 30,000 questions from the Ask The Headhunter community.

In this special Making Sen$e edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards or salary negotiations. No guarantees — just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.

Question: I saw a disturbing story on CNN Money: “College job hunt gets tougher as campus interviews fade.” It’s about how fewer companies are doing on-campus interviews because of the lack of jobs. Rather, some companies are having a machine do the interview. I cannot tell you how stupid I think this is, and I am sure you will agree.

As an electrical engineer, I have to say that this is a misuse of technology — people like me might make such technology possible. I’m tired of hearing about “disruptive technology.” If this is the future, I want no part of it. What is happening here?

Nick Corcodilos: Everywhere you look, the news outlets parrot corporate public-relations blather that there’s a talent shortage. If you’ve been following this column, you know that I think the talent shortage is in HR. CNN reports that, “About 12.6% of college grads are underemployed, meaning they don’t work enough hours.”

Then the article features an automated interview vendor, HireVue, that dumbs down job interviews for employers like Goldman Sachs. Is it any wonder so many college grads don’t have real jobs? Companies have stopped recruiting and interviewing them!

The contradictory reporting by CNN continues: “There is a real skills gap” and “the U.S. economy has a record number of job openings,” the article states.

READ MORE: Ask the Headhunter: How to tell HR to take a hike (without sounding like a jerk)

Employers can’t find enough workers to fill jobs. It’s clearly a job seeker’s market. So what do employers like Goldman Sachs do?

“A generation ago…the employer came to the candidate. Now the candidate has to find the employer,” the article reports.

Employers to new grads: Beg for a job!

In a job seeker’s market, new grads must subject themselves to machine interviews, invest their time filling out online applications and wait like starving dogs to be fed. Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs HR managers get paid to wait for someone else to do their hiring.

It seems not to occur to the Goldman Sachses of the world that they can’t find talent because they’re not looking for talent. It’s the proverbial story of washing your hands with rubber gloves on. It’s surrogate interviewing. Outsourced hiring. Rather than going out to meet the talent, it’s like sending a robo-dog with a note in its mouth.

I’ve written about the likes of HireVue before. (See “HR Pornography: Interview videos” and “WTF! Inflatable Interviewer Dolls?”) This is not disruptive technology. This is outsourced corporate irresponsibility.

READ MORE: 6 things that HR should stop doing right now

In the midst of the claimed “talent and skills shortage,” CNN says the percentage of big-name employers that go to college campuses to recruit has dropped from 89 percent in 2007 to 76 percent today. They’re so desperate to find and hire “talent” that they’ve stopped recruiting! Worse, in a job seeker’s market, Goldman tells job seekers to do tricks to get jobs.

The automated personal touch

Especially during a “talent shortage,” recruiting requires selling — something a stock brokerage company should know a lot about. It requires personal contact, persuasion and, yes, a soft touch.

But imagine this. In an effort to boost sales, Goldman Sachs tells its stock brokers to stop selling. Instead, the company publishes advertisements notifying investors that if they want to do business with Goldman, they must log on to a third-party website and record their request for help with their investments. The selection algorithms are waiting! If you qualify, Goldman may do business with you.

Better yet, imagine this. You make it past the HireVue machine and Goldman invites you for a real interview. You respond with a link to your website and invite Goldman to record answers to your own questions that your software will analyze to determine whether Goldman qualifies as a place you’d like to work. (Perhaps HireVue’s CEO, Mark Newman, will see an opportunity and create software to respond to your software and then charge Goldman another fee for another automated service.)

Hire your own dog

This is where the fun begins. Goldman schedules an interview for you where a personnel jockey will conduct a screening interview before you are permitted to meet the hiring manager. Remember: There’s a talent shortage, and Goldman is really desperate to attract good applicants. Knowing this — because CNN told you it’s so — you send a surrogate to the interview, so you won’t waste your time. (Perhaps you rent the dog from HireVue.) If anyone asks how you dare to send a dog with a note in it’s mouth, you cite the CNN article: “Goldman says it’s trying to weed out any biases between job candidates and interviewers, such as mutual friends, interests in the same sports or same schools.”

You’re just trying to make sure the interview is fair and unbiased.

READ MORE: How to get the respect you deserve in a job interview

Is Goldman Sachs really suffering from a talent shortage and skills gap? Are companies like Goldman working hard to find, recruit and hire those rare applicants they really need?

HireVue CEO Mark Newman is laughing all the way to the bank. I’m laughing at Goldman Sachs’ HR managers who are hiring dogs to bark at college grads. Woof!

If you’re the talent, I refer you back to last week’s column: “How to tell HR to take a hike (without sounding like a jerk).” For some solutions, see “HR Managers: Do your job, or get out.”

Dear Readers: What do you think?

(Next week, we’ll look at how one technology company uses technology to recruit only insofar as it creates an opportunity for the hiring manager to personally recruit the job applicant.)

Nick Corcodilos invites Making Sense readers to subscribe to his free weekly Ask The Headhunter© Newsletter. His in-depth “how to” PDF books are available on his website: “How to Work With Headhunters…and how to make headhunters work for you,” “Keep Your Salary Under Wraps,” “How Can I Change Careers?” and “Fearless Job Hunting.”

Send your questions to Nick, and join him for discussion every week here on Making Sense. Thanks for participating!

Copyright © 2016 Nick Corcodilos. All rights reserved in all media. Ask the Headhunter® is a registered trademark.

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