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Talent Talk: The History of the ‘Modern’ Hiring Process, and Why It Needs an UpdateTalent Talk: The History of the ‘Modern’ Hiring Process, and Why It Needs an Update

Modern recruitment SOPs were established some 80 years ago — before space travel, the internet, you name it — and they haven’t changed all that much since then.

Paul Sturgeon

December 5, 2022

2 Min Read
retro hiring practices
Image courtesy of Alamy/ClassicStock

Many standard operating procedures in the business world were developed decades ago, and often have not changed much. The “modern” employee recruitment process, for example, dates back around 80 years to the start of World War II.

About 10 million men entered military service during the war, leaving many jobs unfilled. Companies ran job ads at unprecedented rates, and we saw the birth of the staffing industry. Companies began to standardize the interview process with questions like: “So tell me why I should hire you?” or “Sell me this pen.” Candidates began to format resumes to highlight education, experience, and skills.

It was a time of fundamental change in the world. Since then, we have invented the microwave oven, the polio vaccine, space travel, and the internet. Unfortunately, in that same time frame the hiring process has become the land that time forgot.

Here are some basic problems that need to be addressed before we can make any real progress.

Problem 1: Only hiring for open jobs. This single concept is so deeply coded in our hiring DNA that it may be impossible for many to overcome, but we are not giving up.

Problem 2: Starting the search with a job ad. No matter how beautifully written the ad is — and most are terrible — it will only add more time to the process, not good people.

Problem 3: The interview process is too slow, with too many steps and interviewers. Something else that dates back many decades is the truism — time kills deals.

Problem 4: Pre-employment tests, questionnaires, and applications. Like many other parts of the process, they are defensive plays designed to weed out “bad apples,” not to attract top talent.

In the next few weeks, we will show you how you can move your hiring process forward by decades with just a few fundamental — you might think they are radical — changes.


paul-sturgeon-150.jpgAbout the author

Paul Sturgeon is CEO of KLA Industries, a national search firm specializing in plastics, packaging, and polymer technology. If you have a topic you would like to see discussed, a company that is growing, or other ideas for this blog, e-mail Sturgeon at [email protected].

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