Google’s Head of People Operations, Laszlo Bock, revealed how the company had changed its recruitment priorities to meet the needs of the modern world, with the result that 14 percent of its staff on some teams are no longer graduates.
As the hi-speed technological world nudges smoothly into fifth gear to settle comfortably in the fast lane, and with the education system in most countries not yet out of first gear, it’s the self-taught science geeks that are beginning to see an equal playing field with those who are formally qualified in the area of computer science.
In an interview with the New York Times, Google’s Head of People Operations, Laszlo Bock, revealed how the company had changed its recruitment priorities to meet the needs of the modern world, with the result that 14 percent of its staff on some teams are no longer graduates. Google fundamentally believes that for any of its roles – and only fifty-percent are tech – the following should be a priority to meet any team-led working environment.
Candidates should have general cognitive ability. This is not related to IQ, but learning ability ¬– the ability to process “on the fly” and pull together disparate bits of information.
Applicants should be able to demonstrate leadership qualities, but emergent leadership as opposed to traditional leadership. Google no longer cares about a list of accomplishments such as being president of the chess club, or vice president of sales, what they want to know is when faced with a problem as a team member, does the person take the lead at the appropriate time. And, just as critically, do they step back and stop leading and let someone else take over who has the ability to do it better. Google believes the willingness to relinquish power in certain environments is critical to becoming an effective leader.
Candidates should show a measure of humility and ownership. The end goal is what can the team can achieve together to problem-solve and, after contributing, creating space for others to contribute. It is also about intellectual humility, as without it Google believes you are unable to learn. Research has shown them that many graduates from leading business schools plateau and as successful bright people rarely experience failure, they don’t know how to learn from that failure. Bock says:
They commit the fundamental attribution error, which is if something good happens, it’s because I’m a genius. If something bad happens, it’s because someone’s an idiot or I didn’t get the resources, or the market moved.
To sum up Bock’s approach to hiring:
Talent comes in many different forms and is built in so many non-traditional ways today; hiring officers have to be alive to every one — besides brand-name colleges. Because when you look at people who don’t go to school and make their way in the world, those are exceptional human beings. And we should do everything we can to find those people.
Over time, as job-matching technologies continue to evolve and be refined to meet the needs of today’s workforce, they will serve people directly, helping them see more clearly which jobs might suit them and which companies could use their skills. Up until now, a degree has become a signal of intelligence and conscientiousness; the advent of people analytics using big data is beginning to shape how we look at recruitment for the future. However, we do agree with Bock when he says of big data recruitment:
I don’t think you’ll ever replace human judgment and human inspiration and creativity.
– utilising big data analytics is about helping recruiters to discover passive candidates and sift and supply the best fit, making the process easier and successful for companies inundated with applications for every role.
Google is one of the world leaders in understanding the promise of big data analytics and this, combined with the recruiter’s element of human insight of what to look out for at interview, means that Bock could be right; to find the best talent for roles in the future, some companies will need to change its hiring and management practices to stay ahead of the game.
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