Failing hiring systems

Failing hiring systems

Find 6 minutes to watch this TED talk by Jason Shen: Click here!

Jason talks about how the hiring systems of today are unsuccessful in recognizing true talent and often (don’t) select candidates based on prejudices. To quote Jason, “The hiring systems we built in the 20th century are failing us and causing us to miss out on people with incredible potential”.

The reality of the 21st century is troubling for candidates. The job market of today keeps them on their toes and requires constant evolution. On the other hand, recruiters fail to adapt to the pace at which candidates evolve. As a result, companies get left in the dust and miss out on potentially great employees. Jason offers 3 pieces of advice on how to approach this:

1. Expand your search

Jason notes that “if we only look for talent in the same places we always do – gifted child programs, Ivy League schools, prestigious organizations – we’re going to get the same results we always have.”

He gives the opposite example of a baseball team down on their luck who started recruiting players that they would normally reject based on these players lacking significant skills (by traditional metrics). Despite that, the players proved their worth, and their inclusion led to many victories for the team.

According to the Head of Design and Research at Pinterest, “no one type of person holds monopoly on talent.” They shifted from hiring solely on the basis of the designer’s degree to deciding on a candidate with regard to how impactful their portfolio was. The results of expanding your search are surprisingly positive!

2. Hire for performance

According to Jason, “Just like teams have tryouts and plays have auditions, candidates should be asked to demonstrate their skills before they’re hired.” He argues that examining a sample of someone’s work is the best way to determine whether they are a good fit for the job.

“And if you’re a candidate, don’t wait for an employer to ask,” notes Jason. “Seek out ways to showcase your unique skills and abilities outside of just the standard resume and cover letter.” It’s a two-way street, but the final goal is the same – companies seek talent for which candidates want to be recognized.

3. Get the bigger picture

It’s easy to let our biases get in the way of a fair assessment. Jason recounts that he’s heard of good candidates getting shelved, as some recruiters take even a single period of unemployment to mean that the candidate is a job-hopper. He also mentions professors who disregard identical messages from students based only on their name being traditionally black or Asian, instead of white.

Jason also shares his childhood story of being labeled “exhausting to work with,” due to his impulsiveness, and assigned a psychologist by his kindergarten teacher. The teacher made such decisions without knowing his immigrant background which left Jason understimulated in his daily life. Jason’s point is that it is impossible to judge someone fairly with only surface information at one’s disposal. Therefore, recruiters should search for that additional knowledge and candidates should be willing to make it searchable.


At Career Angels, we’ve recognized that the system is flawed and adjusted our hiring practices in an attempt to fix it. Learn how we managed to cut recruitment costs, diversify our talent pool and nullify employee rotation: Click here!

Whether you’re looking to find solutions that could work for your organization or would like to discuss your own job search strategy (for candidates with at least 10 years of experience), don’t hesitate to contact us: