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Fit is the single most reliable predictor of success.

Groundbreaking research at Harvard supports the contention that matching people to roles based on the four critical aspects of fit - fit with the manager, fit with the job, fit with the team and fit with the organization - is the most reliable way to set the stage for hiring success and employee productivity. Conversely, the factors picked up by the traditional hiring process - an individual’s experience, educational qualifications, and credentials - have no bearing at all on future productivity or success.

The importance of establishing Job Fit was best underscored by the Harvard Business Review when they conducted a study on 360,000 individuals over a 20 year period. There were some startling discoveries that challenge the current recruitment practices of most organizations, proving that experience and educational qualifications are not statistically reliable predictors of future high performance in a role.

The Harvard Business Review stated:

Experience is usually a principal criterion for making hiring decisions…… Yet we found little difference in performance between these experienced individuals and those with no experience. The person with no experience, given training and supervision, is as likely to succeed as the person with two or more years of experience.

“There is an old saying that 20 years’ experience reflects one year’s bad experience repeated 20 times. Our findings confirm that this is often the case. Too many people cling tenaciously to their unsuitable jobs and do just well enough not to be fired. Thus they accumulate years of “experience”.

“As a value to be cherished and encouraged in our society, education cannot be challenged. The use of formal degrees as the criterion for judging someone’s potential effectiveness in a …job, however, must be challenged….The results of our probing show that people with little education can do the job as effectively and as readily as those with college degrees."

The study goes on to state:

“In view of these findings, an obvious question arises: If these long-used criteria are invalid, what criteria can industry use to better predict job performance? The answer is: criteria that make a better match between the person and the job.”

Establishing Job Fit by identifying and quantifying the critical success attributes of a role (such as the mental demands, the environment, core behavioural traits and the occupational interests), allows organizations to increase the success rate of hiring and promoting future high performers by up to 300%.

To understand the current views on Candidate Quality, all we need to do look at what current job boards are offering candidates as tools to get hired. The biggest failing of job boards today is that candidates can work the system to get to the top of the stack of candidates because they know how to play the game, not because they are the best Job Fit. Look what HCareers shares with candidates to help them play the game:

A résumé peppered with words like abracadabra, alakazam, hocus pocus, presto-chango, and shazam probably won’t do much to help you make it on to the hiring manager’s shortlist. Even “please” – the magic word your mom probably prefers – isn’t guaranteed to do the trick. But did you know there are some “magical” words you can use in your résumé that are almost certain to make recruiters and HR personnel sit up and take notice? Whether they’re picked up by electronic scanning equipment or by the discerning eye of a human recruiter, judicious use of these keywords in your résumé, cover letter, and other application materials are a great way to make sure you rise to the top in your quest for your dream job.

The traditional hiring practices created this problem and websites such as HCareers are helping the candidates to exploit the failings of the traditional system. This is from the HCareers website help page for candidates:

“Most recruiters and hiring managers have to sift through a lot of ho-hum résumés. When you’re tasked with the responsibility of sorting through a few metric tons of paperwork each week, you tend to rely on a few shortcuts to facilitate the process. Some firms actually use electronic scanners to sort through the piles of application materials they receive. These devices are configured to pick up on the presence of a number of pre-defined words and phrases.”

“Other firms train their HR personnel to identify and set aside the résumés that include certain keywords. According to Pat Kendall, professional résumé writer and job search expert, you can exponentially increase your chances of making it to the next phase of the selection process if your résumé includes the kind of keywords they’re looking for.”

Job boards have found a new revenue stream. They sell employers premium services, claiming that the premium will yield higher-quality candidates by scanning for meaningless words or word combinations. They now also upsell candidates with services that include having a professional re-write their résumé for them, including the right keywords. Does no-one see a conflict here? 

Key word searches were a good idea at one time, but now they are nothing more than just another tool to be used by the candidate to get to the top of the list. How does that help an employer find the right attitudes and behaviours that create job fit?

They simply don’t. The answer is get rid of the résumé-based system NOW. From the perspective of the recruiter, the traditional résumé hiring system has been damaged, not enhanced. Time for a fresh approach.


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