The Future of Hiring?

Years ago a fellow member of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce asked me what I thought of video resumes. I told him they were a total waste and that it was difficult enough to get an employer to spend more than five seconds reading a resume; there was no way they would spend five minutes watching a video. Then he showed me the technology behind the startup with which he was involved and I got hooked. I was wrong then; I don’t think I am wrong now.

I suffer from vertigo. It ain’t fun! Let’s just say you don’t want to be standing behind me when I am about to step on the Down escalator and leave it at that. So when I was reading this month’s issue of Inc. magazine, and got to Amy Webb’s article, “Virtually Convincing,” she had me at her first sentence, “I don’t like heights.”

Ms. Webb then went on the explain how using a virtual reality device triggered her vertigo. For that to happen, a VR device has to convince your brain that what you are seeing is “real.” And that got me thinking about recruiting, especially when she went on to write about how VR is being used to treat veterans suffering from PTSD.

If VR is real, maybe it can shorten recruiting time big time. Imagine this scenario:

You are applying for a job which involves interaction with people. In a normal setting, you convince the recruiter that you are a great people person. But let’s say that they handed you a VR device and you had to spend 30 minutes interacting with the rude and obnoxious. They could see for themselves if you are a “great people person.”

This is not so farfetched. Plenty of times people who are hired for a skill are tested. You say you can code? Code! Here’s a computer. Go to it! You say you can type 100 words per minute. Here’s a test. Type! You say you know QuickBooks… Well, you get the idea. But those are “hard skills.” VR will allow for the testing of “soft skills,” people skills.

We do it today. “Sell me this pen,” is the classic example. But the interviewer has to have a conversation with the candidate and, what’s worse, sit there hearing a story about how the pen has saved the lives of countless orphans carrying boxes of puppies across busy streets. With VR, the interviewer will only have to look at the recording, and maybe not even that.

No doubt something akin to voice recognition software will be deployed to score the candidate’s tone of voice. It exists today. When you are speaking to the computer and anger is detected, you get transferred to a customer service rep. Similarly, frustration will be noted in the candidate’s voice and will be a disqualifier. Did you remain calm, cool and collected? Congrats! You get to meet with a real live human being who will now look at you and your resume.

Think of the time this will save when everyone has a VR device or access to one. Want to apply for a job? No form to fill out. Take the VR exercise. If the employer (or their computer) likes what they see, they’ll send you the form and ask for your resume. The employer saves time. The candidate saves time. What’s not to love?

And since the VR can be programmed with any scenario, it could be used literally for any position in a company. Need a new CEO who can deal with angry stock holders? Put her in an annual meeting. Need a new president who can deal with hostile media? Put him in a press conference. Need a new purchasing agent who can negotiate with vendors? Need a new director who can motivate? But wait, there’s more!

Not only will time be saved, but also money and, more importantly, safety will improve. Let’s say the position involves building something. No need to waste supplies. The candidate can virtually “build” whatever it is. And there won’t be any safety issues because you can’t cut your real thumb off with a virtual knife, or smash it with a virtual hammer. And if virtual property is destroyed, it will magically reappear whole and intact when the program is rebooted. No waste. No danger. No OSHA!

Think about it. This may not be all that crazy.

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Bruce Hurwitz is an executive recruiter and career counselor. He has helped scores (thousands if you include attendees at his presentations) of people, including veterans, not only change jobs but, on occasion, change careers. Having successfully transitioned from academia to non-profits to the recruiting industry, he has been there and done that!

Bruce is a recognized authority on job search and career issues, having been quoted in over 700 articles, appearing in some 500 publications, across the United States and in more than 30 foreign countries. His posts on LinkedIn have been read over 300,000 times and have garnered national and international media attention, including television appearances on Fox Business Network and Headline News (CNN).

In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, he chairs their Entrepreneurs Network, hosts their weekly podcast – The Voice of Manhattan Business – and serves as an Ambassador.

An advocate for the protection of job seekers, visit the homepage of his website, www.hsstaffing.com, to read about questionable offerings of so-called job search assistance companies and to learn about his upcoming speaking engagements.

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