Recruiting Caveman Style

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Researchers are fascinated by the development of thought and reasoning from the human brain. Functionally, parts of our brain have remained prehistoric and we have all experienced the reflexive fight or flight emotions when confronted with danger. An article published in Psychology Today in May 2013 took a step away from the assumption that evolutionary expansion of the frontal lobes was the main factor in intelligence. It stated that we have underestimated the power of the primitive brain that is only 10% of the brain’s volume but contains 50% of the total neurons. Is it unreasonable to assume that there is a caveman mentality lurking in the minds of everyone? Watch the interaction between recruiters and job seekers and see if there is evidence there. The most primitive part of hiring reveals lizard brained thinking.

Splurg, the caveman CEO, learned the hard way that women were not turned on by clubbing them at the watering hole and dragging them by the hair back to his cave. He reasoned that there must be some lure short of clubbing that will bring new workers into his enterprise. Since he is an artist by nature, how about advertising? Chiseling his best job description into stone, he was careful not to reveal too much of the day to day tedium or constant management harassment into his advertisement. Finding an exterior location near his cave, he propped up his job ad with the hopes that somebody might walk by, see it, and be interested. Thus the first job board was invented.

Job postings can only be as good as the method of screening out the riff-raff and only talking to the ones that are desirable. Caveman companies usually found among their ranks a discerning trusted subordinate that could do the bosses bidding, so with this newly discovered thing called delegation the first recruiter was created. Not wishing to go against the boss’s wishes, there was a narrow spectrum of qualifications that included young men who were muscular and women with big kazongas. Old guys need not apply. Since it would still be several millennia before the invention of diversity, the young men were hired to be workers and shared in the profits and the young women were basically hired as decorations and paid little or nothing.

The rationale of how to be hired was somewhat mysterious to those applying. Many suspected that the criteria were really youth, muscles, and kazongas, but there was no proof of that. Of course nobody got any feedback on their application so the mystery deepened when it was explained that they did not have the proper experience. This paradox of needing experience to get a job and needing a job to get experience must have been born out of caveman mentality because it still makes no sense today. The last surprise in the process came after hire. This was when most learned that it was not the job they expected, a different boss than had been anticipated [or no boss at all], there was no possibility of advancement, and there was no way out.

Today we are cognizant of discrimination by age and gender, but are still unsure of the criteria for hiring and giving feedback. Maybe the reason we struggle to improve the candidate experience is that we are fighting with some primitive driving force and must train ourselves to overcome the lizard brain and do what is logical and right. Stay tuned. We are still evolving.

Image credit: swisshippo / 123RF Stock Photo


1 thought on “Recruiting Caveman Style”

  1. Pingback: Prehistoric Job Searching » Make HR Happen by Tom Bolt

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