The Challenge Of Work

It's the machines that interview you first

I watched ‘The Numbers Station’ over the weekend - not the greatest movie - but it was only ninety minutes! The opening dialogue resonated, so I wrote about it here. I bring it up now, because it also ties into the theme of this week’s newsletter. Balancing ‘Getting a Job’ with ‘Being Paid For Your Value’.

As I was about to hit ‘send’, two things popped into my feed that relates to this post. Don’t miss my ‘Afterword’ at the end of the newsletter..

What is your value to a corporation?

A friend of mine was recounting their process recently regarding the planned ‘pivot in their career’. Ok - they were going to look for a new job.

As part of their process they were thinking through everything they needed to do before ‘going out there’, including the prep, ongoing work and the hoops they would have to jump through just to get an interview. If you have been in the job market (haven't we all) .... you know what I am talking about! But it is even worse than it was.

You might not know the term ATS - but if I told you that it stands for ‘Applicant Tracking System’ - you will start to get a clue. And if you have come across Taleo (the Oracle gorilla commanding more than 50% of the ATS market) then you know what I am talking about.

ATS systems filter applications based on keywords, skills, former employers, years of experience, schools .... you name it. If you really need '3 years of full stack development' for that job you are looking to fill - then the system weeds out any resume that doesn’t reveal that the candidate has a minimum of three years doing just that.

So, the winning candidate needs to be just as skilled at tuning their resume, cover letters and conversations to maximize the chance that the AI picks them … as they are at actually doing the job they are applying to fill!

A job that needs to be filled’ Have you ever thought about that term? I have. I think it is a good pointer to why corporations have the problems they do with ‘employee experience’. But that’s a different newsletter. A different day.

Of course, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. So in understanding how organizations search for ‘talent’ these days, candidates know that their first two or three hurdles will have nothing to do with people and everything to do with machines and as a result valuable time is spent in tuning their resume and cover letter with SEO like terms, so that they bubble to the top.

Do you find that as sad, bad and depressing as I do?

  • It’s like outsourcing your customer support team to a call center, full of untrained people … oh wait!

  • I mean it’s like putting junior people into sales training on their inside sales team … oh wait!

  • I mean it’s like putting a temp on your front desk, so that anyone who comes into your offices is greeted by someone who knows nothing about your organization …

Good luck with getting that ‘job that needed to be filled’ and know that it is only going to utilize a part of your value and likely ignore what you could bring to the organization. But with that knowledge, you can at least be prepared.

There has to be a better way - and there is. We’ll go there later.


Sometimes the universe just connects. Doesn’t it? Just as I was about to hit send, two things popped into my feeds that connected to exactly what I am writing about.

Number One - the inimitable John Oliver just dropped this piece on ‘Warehouses’ in his ‘Last Week Tonight’ series. The whole thing is worth watching - but it was around minute 2:02 that I sat up - apparently an Amazon ad talking about their staff bringing their passion into the work place ….

Number Two, another one of the ‘Galloway 4’ companies - Apple - has just put up this page on its site. It would seem that the big boys are sitting up and trying to work out how to explain that their staff aren’t just cogs in their respective machines, but a truly valued person that is invited to bring their passion to work.

I think the jury is still out.

Many Thanks For Your Attention and please do forward the email to colleagues, friends and family that want to join us on this journey. It takes more than a village!