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The job search needs a do-over.

Despite 30 years of industry evolution, the bad assumptions behind the job search and hiring process persist. Techonological "solutions" have simply masked over old problems, adding complexity without resolution, resulting in endlessly deteriorating outcomes for both job-seeker and employer.

We think it's time to address this issue once and for all. The "job" plays a central role in our health, happiness, and wellbeing — it follows that problems in the job system lead to problems in our civilization's system (and it doesn't take more than a second of chatting with a friend or relative, or with your nose in the news, to see the results).

Collectively, we should be caring for all aspects of how we administer the job system. Contrarily, we've seen the increasing commoditization of the entire job system: parceled, boxed, and manufactured "just-in-time" to moans and groans on both sides.

Here at Core Theory, we've been thinking about this for years. Inspired by our own personal experience, the experience of friends and family, coworkers and strangers, we came up with the Grid. While we can't fix everything about the job system, we decided to focus on the part that we thought we could: the job search and hiring experience.

Before we go any further, let's take a brief look at the timeline of job search and hiring innovation across the industry:

  • 1994 — Monster Board launches as the world's first online job search and public database for people's resumes.
  • 1995 — CareerBuilder hits the scene and merges with media giants Knight Ridder and Tribune Company to effectively move the newspapers' classified jobs ads to the web.
  • 1996 — We see the first "niche" jobs site in HotJobs, which was quickly acquired by Yahoo! and then, again, by Monster.
  • 1998 — Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is born and quickly becomes the woe of job seekers worldwide.
  • 2003 — LinkedIn takes the stage as the first social media website for professionals. (LinkedIn has become so successful, and given rise to hole new swaths of assumptions across the industry, that 80% of all new jobs now flow through LinkedIn's data structures.)
  • 2006 — Job aggregators rush to dominate the industry. These "scraper sites" hope to be a one-stop-shop for finding your next job. (Not only did this encourage scams and fraud, it actually made finding a job next to impossible amidst the sea of irrelevant search results.)
  • 2009 — Job seekers turn to resume writing software in a feeble attempt to get through the doors of the ATS programs. (This ironically turned the indecipherable job description into a 2-way street: now employers reading resumes experienced the same confusion as job-seekers reading the job description.)
  • 2013 — "One Click Apply" gains traction as the hot, new fad in town. (As a consquence, even more off-target applications are sent to employers.)

We left a few off the list (you can see the list that inspired ours here).

It's flooring to see how each new iteration of job-search technology has brought about more problems. No wonder the job search and hiring process is the worst it's ever been.

The DL on ATS.

Applicant Tracking System programs have become so ubiquitous that a recent trip through the EDD program to help people get hired revealed some interesting facts:

  • You have to write your resume to pass the ATS parsing scans or have your entire application automatically thrown out, never to be seen by a human.
  • Makers of ATS programs boast that it cuts down the applicant pool by 60+% (sometimes as high as 80%).
  • 80% of all new jobs flow through LinkedIn's data structures, which have evolved ATS programs to act as surrogate recruiters.

Despite the assumed "efficiency" of ATS programs that dominate the largest online job searches and portals, employers the world-over still complain about the overwhelming number of applications.

Even with all of the acronym obsession (e.g. AI-DL-ML), when you type your search into LinkedIn's search box you don't get the job you're looking for. (Any architects out there tired of seeing "data architect", "systems architect", anything-but-actually-an-architect architect?)

An industry BAG of bad assumptions.

An industry Born-And-Grown on bad assumptions can only go in one direction. That old saying, "you are what you eat", comes to mind....

So, let's take a look at one of those bad assumptions. It goes like this: there are so many applicants, that even after throwing away over half of them, there are still too many to go through.

This statement is predicated on, what we call, the "other guy" syndrome. It redirects the cause away from the company — practicing the industry standards that perpetuate and exacerbate the effect — and onto the job-seeking applicants. ("Shame on them for applying".)

Like most assumptions, this one is based on some truth. Yes, there are way too many applications flooding into companies that their hiring resources are being strained and overwhelmed. However, like most assumptions, it's making an a** of everyone.

We believe the problem lies not in the quantity of applicants, but in the engine driving the whole hiring machine.

We're actually not alone in this realization, you have probably lived it! In fact, hiring is still largely considered the single, most-important (and single, most-difficult) part of a company's day-to-day operations. The industry has been moaning and groaning since it began!

The engine is busted.

Let's flip our prior assumption around and look at it from a new angle.

Assuming your hypothetical company partook in the usually hiring cycle and discovered, to your dismay, an unsatisfactory result (too many job applicants, uncertain applicant matches, and settling on an assumed least-worst case scenario).

You are probably thinking, at least, one of the following: "there aren't enough qualified applicants in our industry", "it's impossible for a human to look through this many applications", "hire 'em and if it doesn't work out, then we'll just replace 'em with someone else", or "Nancy and Steve vouched for them, good enough for me".

The truth is more like this: your system and assumptions behind hiring have led you to (1) create a generic, indecipherable job post; (2) rely on inefficient and shallow software programs (ATS and job writers) to make up for for the planet-sized, swiss-cheese net you cast; and (3) throw your hands up in frustration and hire the first person recommended to you by Nancy and Steve down the hall.

It's not your fault.

This is what happens when businesses are built on bad assumptions.

If ATS systems are terrible for job-seekers and fail at making meaningful improvements for employers, then why do they continue to be adopted and evolved?

Again, it comes back to those assumptions. It's why more and more companies turn to job-writing software (looking to "solve" the difficult task of figuring out what the job actually is and requires), and end up creating even-more-generic and indecipherable job descriptions. This in turn, results in more applicants, which yields more reliance on ATS systems, which yields more frustration, which results in more Nancy and Steve conversations.

It's not Nancy and Steve's fault either.

In fact, 85% of all new jobs are found through networking today. But, is the quality of finding jobs and hiring employees improving? Are the results for firms and individuals improving?

No. The only thing improving are the job websites' and software programs' bank accounts.

And if 80% of all new jobs are flowing through LinkedIn, that might explain a big chunk of that 85%-networking statistic. Ask yourself, do you enjoy looking for a job (or hiring) on LinkedIn (or any other service)?

We're social creatures, networking has always been vital to our collective and indivudal health and success, but this whole "85% of jobs found through networking... therefore you must use LinkedIn or this new-equivalent-social-media-jobs-site" has a distinct smell to it.

Everything we think is wrong.

  • "Years experience" is a free pass. Rather than figure out exactly what job the company requires, what is required to do that job, and the monetary worth of a person who does that job, companies have defaulted to the vague, often contradictory, meaningless yearly range quantifier. (1-5 years experience, 7+ years experience, intern with 2-3 years experience. 6-10 years experience.)
  • Leave the mystery for "date night". Job descriptions have also managed to say more while revealing less. In fact, they've gotten so good at being specific about nothing and everthing that by the time you finish reading them, you feel like nothing about everything. Oh, you guessed it, they also attract a whole lot of everything nothing.
  • Over-optimized, under-performing. As an employer, you know the feeling: you've got a tool for everything. You know, optimization is good — but sometimes you need to leave some "tools" behind and get back to work.
  • Walks are for parks, not offers. You shouldn't need to "walk" your prospective new-hire through their offer. If you find yourself thinking that you do, then it's a good sign that something is wrong. A walk is supposed to reduce stress, give you space and time to think and breathe, enable you to experience the beauty of the world, and empower you. You wouldn't walk very far with someone holding a pile of sh** in their hand, and you certainly wouldn't walk anywhere at all with someone telling you to eat it.
  • Transparency is not a buzzword. We've found that the more someone describes themselves, and/or their company, as transparent, the more opaque they actually are in practice. If you find yourself having to repeatedly convince yourself and others that you and your company are transparent, then there's a good chance that you aren't. So, how can you be more transparent? It starts with the job offer and hiring process.
  • Trawling is bad on the boat and off. We've been noticing a trend that we call the job trawl. Imagine an illegal fishing liner that is only searching for that 1 rare platinum-spotted crab-shrimp and trawls the entire ocean, sucking up everything in its net and snuffing the life out of it, only to discover that the holes of the net were too large to catch the one thing it was after. You don't need to suck up the entire applicant pool to find the right person for the job. Doing so is hard on the entire job ecosystem and becomes stressful and morale-busting for both applicants and employers.
  • Privacy matters. Your job history, job search, future prospects, hiring strategy, and new-talent roster are pivotal to your life as an individual and success as a company. This information carries a lot of power over both individuals' and companies' lives. Your job information shouldn't be an endlessly flowing stream into the coiffers of surviellance capitalists, with which to do whatever they please, and at profits that are simply obscene. But, that is exactly what is happening, as the industry continues to board leaky information vessels with philosophies and business models that read like Attila's journal.

One big assumption.

We're making one big assumption: we're assuming that both sides want to make the job search and hiring process better.

We don't think our assumption is wrong, but for those who aren't ready for a full-on makeover to the jpb process, then there are some companies out there giving it a great and noble shot. (Check out PeopleFirstJobs because they're doing a really great job of making it easy to find good companies that are hiring.)

If you've read this far, and you're thinking, "Woo yea I'm ready for the job search and hiring experience to finally be what it should have always been", then we're so excited that you're here.

This first version won't be for everyone.

We're in development on our first version (Grid v1).

First, we will be releasing to immediate people we know. Then, we will begin rolling it out to anyone with an invite code. Finally, we will be opening it up to the public.

This tiered opening approach will enable us to provide the best experience to our users without overwhelming our 2-person team.

How can I get an invite?

Simple! Send an email to iwantgrid@thegridpdx.com and share your story (short or long) about your job search or hiring process to get on the list.

We won't share your email with anyone outside our 2-person team and we will delete it before Grid v1 launches. If we really want to share your story for marketing purposes, e.g. on our website or podcast, then we will email you directly to ask for your permission (we will only ever share your story with your direct and written permission).

When we are ready to go live with the invite stage for Grid v1, you'll get an email with an invite code that will give you access to the service.

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