by Glen Wallace
There seems to be a problem with how our economic system is set up to set up to select employees. If we think of the system that employers use to hire new workers as a machine that selects some item to serve a purpose, can we think of that selection machine as a useful device in good working order or should it be declared either broken or a very poorly designed Rube Goldberg type device? I tend to think the later is the case.
The primary problem is there is an overemphasis on certain skills, particularly the skill to market oneself, that have little to nothing to do with the job the worker is being hired to perform. In researching job hunting skills, one will hear about the great importance of things like social networking, getting the word out, dressing for success, it’s not what you know it’s who you know. One might start to think that every job around was some type of sales or marketing job. And yet we continue along with the assumption that it is the job searcher that needs to change and improve when maybe it is the overall economic system that needs to change.
While for purely practical purposes it might be a good idea for any given job searcher to emphasize self marketing skills and learn how to be a good sales person even if their desired field is not sales, I don’t think the problem of our malfunctioning macroeconomic hiring system that the business world has set up and generally accepted as the norm is being addressed nearly enough. The business world does not seem very good at questioning its assumptions, generally speaking.
While one would think that a business would gravitate to what would be the most economically viable route, finding workers based on their ability to perform the work in a manner that provides the greatest profit for the business, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Instead, the human nature of being a social creature first and foremost gets in the way of logical, cerebral route needed to navigate through to reach the destination of an optimally performing business. That is, people tend to bring on board and hire those people that they like, or are attracted to, or want to be around in a social sense. Since it is people, rather than a machine making the final hiring decision, the social human filter factor gets in the way of and takes precedence over the logical algorithmic decider of what is best for the business in terms of human capital.
If we take as a given that there is a problem, and we can’t count on the business world fixing it themselves, the question arises of how can it be fixed? Of course the first option that springs to mind, is the intervention of the government. While there is usually objection and resistance to more government interference in the operations of private business, what those in the business world need to keep in mind is that they do not operate in a vacuum, but instead exist in a system that government has set up as the referee and rule making body in the world of business as a game.
While in a small stakes playground game, the players themselves can be counted on set the rules and ref themselves, once the stakes increase on the scale of the business world, the players themselves can no longer be counted on to ref themselves and set the rules. Rather the players desire and count on a system of government intervention and rule making so that each business player knows how they can win the game of business against their opponents.
We the people that make up ‘The Government’ have set up this game not because we think there is some moral right that the game be played at all, but rather that the game is beneficial to society as a whole. So when there is some breakdown in a game that makes it both unfair in some respect and also to run less than optimally in how the game benefits the greater society, then it is incumbent on the rule-makers; the people, the government, to change or tweak the rules in order to fix the problem.
There are already laws that protect certain classes of people from discrimination in hiring. I believe in those laws is a recognition that a flaw exists in the human social nature that inclines people to hire others like oneself. What may be needed is merely an application of the general principle that justified the creation of anti-discrimination hiring laws, towards all forms of discrimination other than merit for the job being applied for.