What do you know? And do you have a piece of paper that proves this?

I like to stay updated on technology and new discoveries – I’m constantly researching how to use new technologies – more recently things like Machine Learning, Blockchain, Semantic Web. I learn about this stuff mostly by myself online or through people I know, so I don’t have a piece of paper to prove I know the tech. Some of the best professionals I know are similar. Rarely do I see the most respected people in their fields taking courses – although there is – of course – a group of people who like to learn this way.

So I find it strange when I speak with companies here in Germany looking to hire people and look at how they structure their recruiting process, starting with the job ad – a massive list of requirements that candidates must have to even apply for positions – 3 years experience in this and that, diploma from a top university, multiple languages, go-getter attitude etc. Not only must you be a perfect human being, ready to be hired, you must also prove you are perfect –  show us a paper trail to prove your perfection!

I can understand this from an HR department point of view – they don’t want to spend countless hours sorting through applications – how would they know people can do what they say can? We don’t want to spend months or years testing each skill for each candidate either.

But is this the right way to hire? I too remember being flooded with job applicants from around the world when posting jobs online and how this process was very time-consuming. But, because I was experienced in hiring and knew skillset I was hiring for, I could see the potential in many of the candidates that did not have the perfect qualifications. I would even go so far as to say that certain candidates with different qualifications from the job description would probably do a better job than the people matching the perfect job ad descriptions (which are not really perfect in any case, far from it). And what about the candidates looking to change direction in their careers?

I guess that my takeaway from all this is that we:

  1. Need better ways to gauge if people are capable of doing specific jobs in tech and that the CV is not the right tool for eliminating candidates.
  2. Need to leave open more flexibility for competent people to learn on the job, after all, technology is constantly changing, but good people stay on top of it and just need some time to adjust and learn.
  3. Need a less black-and-white hiring process, especially in the early stages of a hiring process so as not to eliminate great candidates if they do not match the job ad, after all, they are applying for the job, so at least they think they are capable.

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