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Is "Fit" Obsolete?

Posted by Colin Kingsbury

Mar 31, 2006 11:34:00 AM

John Sumser has lately been adding a welcome dose of sanity to the conversation by emphasizing what the big job boards are good at. Intoday's column though, he slips in an aside that I have to disagree with:
Many voices, ranging from the industrial psychologists to the search algorithm enthusiasts, suggest that the output of the Job Boards could (and should) be improved by addressing the "fit" question. The hard thing is that the definition of fit is a moving target. Particularly in knowledge work enterprises, the best employee this month may be maladaptive next month....

In other words, "fit" is a red herring on one level.
This isn't wrong per se but I think John is belaboring the point. "Fit" is not a static yes-no question, but a funnel that narrows down as you move from screening resumes to conducting interviews to extending an offer, let alone the promotion/dismissal decisions that take place one or two years later.

Today, the job boards can barely tell me even the most basic things about a candidate:
- How many years of experience do they have in the specified functional area?
- Have they worked at a small (medium/large) company roughly the size of mine before?
- Do they have experience in my industry?
- Do they have experience interfacing with customers?
- Have they worked at a product (service) company before?

None of these questions strike me as beyond the pale in terms of what a search engine ought to be able to generate. It would require integrating third-party data sources and no, but nothing half as complicated as what is standard in other data-driven industries like finance and securities. Referrals are in many senses simply a way to outsource this level of "fit" determination to a cheap third party.

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