HR Mistakes in the Age of Big Data

Tech, Security, Millennials & The Candidate ExperienceMISCELLANEOUS WRITINGS | 2016 EDITION | VOLUME 32


They say: “Change is inevitable.” But nobody reminds us so are stupid rules, assumptions, barriers and unnecessary friction in a hiring process increasingly layered with time-consuming data greed and technology it can't protect. From the 2014 BigMoneyJobs.com hack to the Equifax breach.

Which is why smart HR experts like Forbes' Liz Ryan (above) understand that — just like IoT or Tesla Autopilot — not every new technology necessarily improves the job application, Candidate Experience or Employee Experience. Assuming the goal is hiring quality talent using intelligent talent acquisition.

For example, if you're following someone on Social Media whose content, thought leadership and body of work is a direct extension of just about everything your organization does, is a “We're Hiring” tweet the best way to find good hires? Talking around them? Isn't it smarter to have a streamlined, well-thoughtout process for directly engaging them in place? Why risk losing them in the “job application” hellhole Liz Ryan and every candidate running by the clock hates?

Can we also agree that — as still seen in Africa and other emerging markets — leveraging the internet to advertise jobs only to demand job applicants STRICTLY apply using a P.O. Box 12345 address you provided is both passé and daft. And about that “overqualified” policy, have you seriously thought through Fast Company & Inc's research-based counterargument? And if we're talking about Building Smarter Human Resources, which is what this is about, how smart is yours?

Are you THAT determined to limit your top talent pool and SUCCEED in quickly turning off #HiPOs? Are candidates' photos, age, height, race, religious affiliations or sexual orientation REALLY relevant here?

Believe it or not, this is still common in so-called “third world” countries and regions wondering why underperformance and corruption is rife, and modernization, stagnant. Or nonexistent.

Talent Acquisition is often “brain drain” acceleration. And Talent Mismanagement, as Top Talent or Right Talent is rightly given a good reason to look elsewhere. The irony being, in more advanced economies, the friction most annoying to notoriously impatient millennials is tech-zealous, non-essential yet time-consuming impediments on the one hand. And supposedly Social Media savvy recruiters, talent acquisition managers and HR professionals totally ignorant about OPSEC and its implications for dangerous — indeed ignorant — assumptions about being able to google any candidate of choice. Plus a 41% of employers delusion laughable to Security pros who know better. And whatever happened to the ASKING, vis-à-vis the self-inflicted talent crunch? How about Ego, plus blissful industry lack of perspective. That's what.

How invested are you and your consulting partners in training generally, and upskilling IT pros? What about relocation assistance? Because if you're too bottom line-driven for those, you have no business complaining about any cybersecurity talent crisis. Plus, with regard to the second image above (all images hyperlinked), let's be clear: The 60% is only a conservative number. And I am one of the 60%.

Moreover, if, as a recruiter, you've naively ASSUMED InfoSec pros are all waiting for you on the Social Engineering, APT and Cybercrime treasure trove that is LinkedIn, your firm is likely a good Data Breach target. Like Michael Page.

Remember that next time your emailed and unnecessary long PII (personally identifiable information) request — for Right To Submit, or not; all information likely to be sold on Russian black markets — is ignored. Malicious cyberstalker and Impersonation horror stories are real. So are ID theft criminals.

There used to be a time when applying for a job online was as simple as attaching your CV/resumé and emailing it. Nobody told you to limit the size of your document to 200KB, 500KB and so forth. Size limitation inconvenience I helped change at Britain's CWJobs.co.uk with another blog and contact with the company. The former system worked efficiently because job seekers could reach several target organizations in one sitting.

They didn't have complex, and frankly meaningless 6-8 — in some cases even — 11 page Applicant Tracking Systems (“ATS”) and data-greedy middle men (eager to capture your email address and other PII to sell) in the form of third-party websites. And never-ending sign-in requirements and the obligatory “Register to Apply” or Create a Login ID barriers in the way of applicants. Customers too, in e-commerce. Including customers unlikely to ever need that website again.

Recruiters had a wide talent pool to draw on. Today, that isn't the case. Even if understandably, Cybercrime, Spamming and BEC (Business Email Compromise) scams are to blame, bad HRM leadership is equally to blame. From Human Resources all the way up to CEOs.

While the big shots at the World Economic Forum were wondering how to fix the talent scarcity problem companies like Sony face, I found reputable organizations like Bloomberg News have ATS missing Next and Finish buttons. Screenshots like those below were taken two years ago:So, whether you're a startup desperate to not lose the best candidates to more established companies or a large organization, tell us again: How EXACTLY is the right talent supposed to finish that application?

Apart from the error messages and bad code, many ATS like SunGard's and Standard Chartered Bank's can/could barely handle attachments. And I have screenshots to prove it. No wonder smart candidates quit your long application forms and proceed to a competitor who is not standing in their way. The way of the great work they're dying to contribute.

Blackmere Consulting's Principle gave valuable advice in light of the much publicized Talent Acquisition Problem in Information Security. And at the end of 2015, I penned a detailed article entitled InfoSec's Echo Chamber Problem.

Yet along with HBR's advice about how to read Jagged CV/resumés, valuable insight is frequently missed due to shrinking recruiter attention spans — foolishly celebrated by pro-Talent Acquisition/career advice writers — as a wrong-headed focus is placed on more ADHD-inducing tech rife with wrong assumptions about employment equality. These the same recruiters and people who email right back requesting your phone number and current location although it's right at atop both your last email and/or CV. Listen to Nathan Mellor below.

Smart organizations and startups aren't just talking about hiring AND retaining millennials. They are SHOWING that they understand hiring is NOT a one-sided conversation. That #CandidateExperience is not just a hashtag. They understand importance of getting out of the way of creatives, good candidates, or Hi-Pos.

One page. A working Submit button. And/or an email option. And you're done. Something the UK generally, does well. So does Twitter, DreamWorks Animation. Last time I checked.

And while in Britain and Hong Kong, they get part of the concept with their One-Click ATS, they still miss what good HRM and winning startup Founders/CEOs already get. Which, in a nutshell is: Don't turn applicants off. Because it is talent and characer (not HR) that builds organizations. Plus, if you ask an applicant to limit the size of the file (say, a PDF) containing their portfolio and/or CV/resumé, technically, the stripped down PDF file you get (from 800KB say, down to 78KB) will be depleted of several useful features including hyperlinks critical to facilitating good hiring decision. In other words, by standing in the way, you're shooting your hiring strategy in the foot.

Over to you, Seth...

If you want to visit DisneyWorld, you'll need to buy a ticket and wait in line.

If you want to see the full moon, you can go outside and look up in the sky.


Often, we're tempted to create friction, barriers and turnstiles. We try to limit access, require a login, charge a fee...sometimes, that's because we want control, other times we believe we can accomplish more by collecting money. Clearly, people value the moments that they spend at Disney—with hundreds of dollars on the line and just a few hours to spend, there's an urgency and the feeling of an event occurring.


On the other hand, far more people look at the moon. Just about everyone, in fact.

If your goal is ubiquity, significant friction is probably not your finest tactic.

There used to be very few resources that were truly scalable at no cost, resources where we didn't need to use money or queues to limit who would use them. In the digital world, that number keeps skyrocketing. It doesn't cost a cent to allow more people to look at the moon, just as it's free for one more person to read this blog.

If you're going to add friction, if you're going to create urgency and scarcity, understand that it always comes at a cost. By all means, we need to figure out how to make a living from the work we do. But with scalable goods, particularly those that have substitutes, don't add friction unless there are enough benefits to make it worth our hassle.

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Hiring Great People III (Recommended)PEACE

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