Vincent Safuto’s Weblog

Notes and observations

Use of resume filtering hurts applicants – and employers

I recently read the first part of a book (“Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs: The Skills Gap and What Companies Can Do About It,” by Peter Cappelli, a business professor at the Wharton School) about why good people can’t find jobs, and a couple of recent visits to a pair of McDonald’s restaurants show why a business can use the latest in psychological testing and resume filtering software, and still get employees who can’t seem to work well.

I’ve been applying for jobs in both journalism and anywhere else where they need a warm, breathing body, and the latter positions seem to be less interested in my skills and intelligence than in whether I like to get wasted before, during and after work, and how I like to take my illicitly acquired prescription pain pills: straight down the hatch, or crushed and injected?

There are businesses looking for good people, but some are filtering resumes using software that makes some odd decisions, and the book’s author said that one company filtered out 25,000 resumes while trying to fill a position for an engineer, then whined that there’s a shortage of qualified engineers.

One day, I drove to a McD’s and went inside for a salad to go. The drive-through apparently was being ignored, though there was one car waiting for service. Inside, there were four employees sitting in a booth, apparently on break, one lethargically pushing a mop over the floor, one standing by the counter and one behind the counter talking to the employee and punching numbers into the order taker/cash register.

I should add that the employees who were working behind the counter seemed to be pretty energetic and working hard, but so many were in the restaurant proper that they were blocking paths to the bathroom, etc.

It’s not uncommon in the McD’s in my area to find yourself in line waiting to order and pick up food behind a uniformed and on-duty employee. When I finally got to the line, the order-taker looked away to talk to the on-duty employee standing at the counter and talking to the other employee, and then gave me his attention.

I placed my order, and there was a lot of confusion behind the counter. For a place that gives psychological tests and acts like every job is important, it seemed like not a lot of work was being done efficiently. Finally, I received my order and left the store, having to go around a couple of employees who were standing around and talking by the exit.

At the second McDonald’s, I found uniformed employees standing around and talking, and managed to get my order in. The trouble was that employees were hanging around the counter and when my order was ready, I walked to the counter to get it and found my way blocked by an employee who proceeded to lean on the counter and talk with the order-taker.

Now, maybe it’s the harsh reality after 60 years that poor service at McDonald’s is a given, but the fact of the matter is that the testing is supposed to weed out the unmotivated and the ones with the lousy work ethics, and yet these people turn up everywhere.

I have a theory.

The dreaded Unicru test has been the barrier to employment for so many people who have lost their jobs and need new ones, and I see the outcome of the test in the quality of people at electronics and computer stores. The real geeks are filtered out and the people who are hired seem to be the ones who either know the secret answers or lie on the testing.

It used to be if you were unemployed, you pounded the pavement and walked into stores, asking if they needed a worker. Now you’re directed to a website and told to fill out the forms, then take the test. Most companies only take those who score appropriately according to the top-secret formula, and cannot consider anyone who isn’t in the proper range.

I have a theory, folks, about why with all this testing stores hire so many people who can’t figure out what is going on. Unicru, the company, has realized that the only way to keep employers coming back for more tests is to make sure that every person passed on for an interview is severely screwed up.

The people who “pass” the tests thus are the ones who score the worst. They are sent to the employer and told they did well on the psychological testing, and are hired. When they turn out to be screwballs, the employers are advised to keep using their service because in the long term it’s effective.

So they keep weeding out good people, hiring bad people, and paying Unicru on the assumption that someday they’ll hire people who actually know what they’re doing. In the meantime, Unicru keeps sending them the ones who cannot seem to perform any work or show up on time.

That’s why in computer stores the salespeople know nothing about computers, and why in fast-food outlets good service only exists in the advertising. I understand that employers are literally being carpet-bombed with applicants, but they probably wouldn’t have to do so much hiring if they just met with prospective employees and bypassed the Unicru system.

The book tells of employers who did just that, and found ideal workers who would have been rejected by the system but turned out to be just what was needed.

Every politician claims to have the solution to the jobs problem, though most are focused on fixing the blame, not the problem. Business people can solve the problem, but only if they want to – and only if the software lets them. That’s the tragedy.


June 29, 2012 - Posted by | Living in the modern age, The jobless chronicles | , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Nope.Waited in line behind three people standing in front of the counter. Employees saw me and kept on somewhat working, one of them just standing there. Once I finally realized that the 3 people in front of me were just standing around in front of the counter (what?) an employee found her way over to take my order. While this was happening, a female employee chatted it up with her friend (boyfriend?). Drink was not to the quality of other locations, and they were beyond chill in here talking it up with friends across the counter.Wouldn’t come back.

    Comment by gold price | July 8, 2012 | Reply

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