Imagine you are in the process of choosing your next smart-phone. You want to be environmentally conscious and change it as few times as possible, but you have to replace it at least when it gets too slow to run your favourite applications. They become more power-hungry by the day.
You start your quest for information about different models and you stumble on a side-by-side comparison of the features two phones sport. Mega-pixels, audio quality, gigabytes of storage, screen size, you want everything nice and clear and you get nervous if a feature is hard to compare.
You grumble if you have to take into account some aspects that really don't fall on any scale. Why can't the reviewer come out with a number for everything?
This approach to smart-phone shopping is great. You can use the same approach with people shopping, it seems only instinctive. Unfortunately trouble awaits ahead if you do.
If you put people's "features" side-by-side and pretend to compare them in the same way you do with screen resolutions, you are believing in the assumption that people can be standardized and should be. But human beings are not good at standing standardization. C.G. Jung called it nullification and it sounds even uglier.
Mother Nature never produces two identical humans. Even monozygotic twins — the ones that not even mum can tell apart — are different. Psychologists advice parents to allow them to choose their clothes as a way to set them free to express their uniqueness.
We humans love it when our individuality is accepted and appreciated. It makes us motivated and happy. Instead, we become sad, depressed, rebellious, defiant, angry or unmotivated when others try to squeeze us into a mould. It doesn't matter if the mould is the best one civilization has ever invented and it's for our own good. It's the squeezing we don't like.
If you learn to appreciate people's characteristics, they will reward you with improved motivation and better productivity. Diverse teams will show a problem solving power well beyond the sum of individual abilities.
CVs belong to an age in which standard people seemed a good solution. They make it possible to compare candidates' "features" side by side.
To embrace people's distinctiveness, you want to welcome a variety of ways candidates can use to express themselves.
To make this change possible, your company's culture needs to let go of the irrational obsession with standardization and control that suffocates uniqueness and diversity.
Isn't it faster to use CVs?
Many companies receive hundreds of job applications. They need a way to make sifting them easy and fast. They standardize, it seems the right way to approach the problem.
Bolts present themselves on the conveyor belt in a standardized way so that it's easier to pick them up. Most industrial plants wouldn't be able to operate without some degree of standardization. Why not standardize the hiring process as well?
You dream of a universal standard CV or even have candidates copy and paste their own CV to an application form you devised to make information easy to compare.
What to do when, like in this case, you can't catalogue humans the way you do with bolts?
Just don't publish your job openings. Have, instead, your human resources team be continuously on the hunt for talent.
Candidates will be able to showcase their experience and skills the way they find most personal.
HR will do a better job because they will be in control of how many potential candidates they have to consider. They won't feel any pressure to process hundreds of CVs in a short time. They will know the candidates in advance, which will make things easier when it's hiring time. They won't have to do the boring and soul-crushing job of scanning CVs.
Recruitment will become an active task and hunting will be creative. HR professionals will let their imagination loose and will find possible candidates on Facebook, LinkedIn, Github and Stackoverflow. They will search the web and participate to events like Hackatons, Job Fairs, Virtual Job Fairs and trade shows.
With HR constantly on the hunt for talent, how do you do blind hiring?
When blind hiring, the person who tests candidates' technical skills can't see them or know their personal details.
It's possible to use this method when hiring developers, at least partially. Candidates can work on a take-at-home project and the results can be evaluated after having stripped personal details.
Communication is very important in software development and this is bad news to blind-hiring advocates. Candidates will have to talk with the team they will work in. No blind hiring is possible in this case.
It's also very important to create a culture that appreciates diversity. You need to promote cooperation and fix the activities that, instead, cause conflict.
But we really need candidates who fit in our culture
If you strongly need candidates who fit in your company's culture, the latter may be unhealthy. Instead of perpetuating it by hiring someone who fits, you may want to make it healthier.
Obsession with making sure that everyone thinks the same way, always agrees with everyone else, shares the common points of view, accepts without a flinch to adopt consolidated ways of working they don't even understand, is a sure sign of managerial insecurity.
Your company's working environment discourages the experimentation of solutions that may bring important benefits despite being unconventional.
A place where diversity is seen as threatening is likely also a place where mistakes are severely punished and where fear produces toxins that slow activities down and bring costs up.
Focus on skills
You learn to accept diversity and take advantage of it, you work on the insecurity that makes you obsessed with culture fit, you realise that control can harm results, you detox your company's culture, you survive the shock that comes with any change, including a change in the way you relate with the people that make your vision real.
It's a jump into the void. One that will be as shaky as it is rewarding.
Now, when hiring, you can focus on skills. You need to know, no matter how the candidate asserts her identity, if she can do the job. You will be interested in communication skills as well.
Developers come in all shapes and sizes, there are introverts and extroverts. Introverts need to think before they talk. Extroverts need to talk to think. They solve problems in radically different ways. This is wonderful, a lot more problems get solved.
But you have to make sure that introverts are not so much so that you sweat when you try to extract words out of them. Extroverts shouldn't need to talk for hours before producing anything that makes sense.