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  • Adam Wilson
  • Alessandra Rizzotti
  • Geordie McClelland

Why it's time to change the way we evaluate and hire young professionals

Geordie McClelland

Today, there is a “lost generation” of aspiring young professionals. In fact, 45% of the nation’s unemployed are between 18 and 34 years of age. And I think this is a huge problem. I created theThings.biz because we need a new approach to harnessing the potential of this intelligent and driven yet underutilized workforce. We also need to help companies find, evaluate, and hire young employees who will be valuable to them over the long-term.

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  • Alessandra Rizzotti

    What do you think is the biggest thing companies should stop doing when it comes to hiring? How can companies harness the potential in their employees?

    • Geordie McClelland

      Hi Alessandra, thanks for the question. I think the biggest issue is that there are structures that are put in place in the name of efficiency that are leaving great people with real long-term potential out of the process entirely. For me, the two big ones are an over reliance on hard skills as a measure of qualification and networks as a means of accessing entry level jobs.

      Most companies are evaluating people as a set of skills instead of people when the reality is that the right person can quickly master the skills needed for most entry level jobs (and training is now much less of a burden for companies with all of the free, or low cost, online training tools available now). We often cite a study that found when new hires don't work out, 89% of the time it's because of attitude and soft skills, not because they lack a specific hard skill. That study was done across all levels, we think it's probably even more pronounced for entry level jobs. If companies want to develop good people, they need to look beyond a candidate's ability to do the tasks that are required of them on day 1, they need to look to their potential based on how the candidate works and thinks.

      Networks are great when they work on a micro level (they worked for me). But people within one's professional network are often very similar to those within their social network - which is to say that people who are referred for a job are often the same gender, race or socioeconomic status as the person who refers them. In an increasingly diverse and dynamic economy this homogeny is a problem for companies - and it is a practice that makes it even more difficult for people who face larger structural challenges (i.e., where they are born, where they went to school) to have an opportunity to prove their worth to a potential employer.

      We think there are ways to make finding the right person (the whole person) for entry level jobs more efficient and more democratic. We created one approach at theThings.biz, but what's really great to see is there are a lot other, innovative approaches being tried in the market right now to help driven, intelligent young people get good jobs. There's a movement underway because people are starting to realize that the current system doesn't serve job seekers or companies well - we are excited to be a part of it.

      • Alessandra Rizzotti

        Really cool to hear your thoughts on this. It's a shame though that the way people think is not something you can test easily. I know at GOOD Corps they have a really extensive way of reviewing applicants- and it's fantastic. They really hone down on how people think by not just having interviews, but also giving people challenges/tests during the interviews- so they see how these people think on their feet. It would be awesome if more schools focused on training people how to communicate/change their perspective/way of thinking.

        • Geordie McClelland

          That's great to hear (and not surprising from a company named GOOD). One of the things that we are trying to do is move some of these types of evaluations from a latter stage activity to be part of the initial applicant screen to give a more diverse, yet still qualified by our measures, population a chance to get in for an interview.