Resumes are a really lousy way of marketing yourself for a job, and a poor way to evaluate talent on the hiring side. Most job descriptions don’t give an applicant a sense of what the job truly requires or what would make them successful in it. We are biased and ask bad interview questions. And basically, our entire job matching process is fragile and error-prone.

So says Lazlo Bock, SVP People Operations at Google. And we might want to pay attention to what he says about hiring efficiently and accurately.

He is responsible for attracting, developing, retaining, and delighting "Googlers." During Bock’s tenure, Google has been named the Best Company to Work For more than 30 times around the world and received over 100 awards as an employer of choice. In 2010, he was named "Human Resources Executive of the Year" by HR Executive Magazine.

In this post about the current hiring practices most companies employ, he opines that a lot is broken with the process. And he blames poor job matching efforts on the color blue.

“How do I know that when I see the color blue, it’s the same as when you see it? How do I know that when I describe myself to an employer, they know what I mean? And that when a hiring manager describes what she wants in a job posting, how do I know what she means?”

He goes on to say that employers are also “completely blind to the indefinable things that make you ‘you,’ such as generosity, curiosity, or playfulness.”

The root cause of all these problems according to Bock? Applicants can’t convey “perfect information” about who they are, and employers can’t convey “perfect information” about what they need.

Hence, both sides might agree the position is a “Color Blue” job, but neither knows for sure if we mean the same thing when we say it.

Bock claims we could solve our nation’s unemployment problem if we get this right, if we do a better job of matching people and jobs.

Since hundreds of billions of dollars are spent on recruiting, and wasted on bad hires, there is obviously lots of incentive.

So how do we best match what an applicant has to offer with what organizations need? Bock believes the answer lies in data.

“The most efficient way is by looking at large sets of data and inferring relationships, similarities, and predictors of success and failure. And the only way to do that is with permission, appropriate privacy safeguards, and enough value delivered to the individuals and organizations to make them want to take part.”

Bock sees a future where, for example, a welder in Detroit could more easily determine what skills are increasingly - or decreasingly - in demand so he could make more informed choices: Should he move to Atlanta where there will be more welding jobs, or stay put and go to nursing school since he knows there will be demand for those jobs at home? And if he does decide to go back to school, which schools’ graduates are most likely to
end up in the jobs he desires?

Eventually, Bock says, we’d be better able to not just match people to jobs today, but also to tell people where to invest to be ready for tomorrow’s jobs.

“From a business perspective, the promise of solving unemployment is enormous. From a social perspective, it’s exhilarating. And from a computer and organizational science perspective, it’s coming into reach.”

Bock says on his LinkedIn profile that “supplementing hiring manager’s instincts with hard science and then giving employees freedom once they are on the job are steps on the path to making work meaningful and people happy.”

A “data solution” shouldn’t come as a surprise from one of the leaders of a company filled with computer scientists and ruled by algorithms.

But as you can imagine, other business leaders have some slightly different ideas about how to improve the traditional hiring process.

In my next Staffing Talk post, we will look at a trio of companies utilizing the “audition interview.”

And then we will hear from the founder and CEO of ITOI, a company that claims it is the first video communications solution for iPad to help HR and recruiting professionals interview and hire more effectively.