If you do a quick search for “education system is..” the first four results are adjectives like broken, flawed and failing. This is where I’d love to inject my own political commentary on the why and how, as I’m sure some of you would as well. We’ll save the rants for another time and place. But here’s a fact. As a result of these poor literacy rates and test scores, legislators have tried time and again to set some kind of standard. The result? Pissed off teachers and well-documented failure.
It seems like the more we try to standardize education, the lower the standards become. The status quo “normal” is far below average for most. Researchers and statisticians are retained by our government to identify models of great education around the world like China even though we know that culturally, a communist regime’s education program just won’t fly in the United States where we liberally distribute trophies and praise. Every child doesn’t learn the same way for a litany of reasons and programs such as No Child Left Behind did, in fact, leave some kids behind.
About 45% of children go on to pursue some kind of degree program in the United States at colleges ranked by excellence from the Ivy League to your standard online degrees from places like DeVry or Sylvan. That collegiate “stamp of approval” implies (to some) the value of your ideas, as it’s the only real background information recruiters have to evaluate when they leave college.
Teacher Leave Us Kids Alone
Then… well, it depends. If you pursue a career in engineering, medicine or something similar, you continue on a path of constant re-education to prepare yourself for the professional field. But for those of us that pursue less technical fields, namely recruiting and HR in this case, we take a path more suited to the school of the hard knocks.
And no, those SHRM and HCI points and courses don’t count.
In all seriousness, have you ever thought about all the decisions you make in your job – not just the yes or no decisions, but those you have to make that require a lot more work behind the scenes? I’m talking about things like buying a new ATS or payroll system, executive hiring decisions and healthcare. How do you learn how to make those decisions more effectively?
The answer in recruiting, at least, has been to fail. To fail miserably and repeatedly, deteriorating your reputation and our industry’s one choice at a time. We work blindly – tasked with some decision and left to use a search engine and a gut-check to make the best “educated” decision we can.
Just like using WebMD to diagnose yourself, the outcomes are varied at best. I’d call it an educated guess but, unfortunately, it’s not very educated at all.
You’re Just Another Brick In The Wall
To substitue a true post-collegiate continuing education, we’re told to register for $2000 conference passes where we don’t actually learn anything that’s practical for our business. Rather, we’re forced to listen to a series of case studies that are far too large to be practical for anyone that’s not a Fortune 500 business.
Our conversations outside of the sessions and tracks are framed around gossip and epic hangovers rather than networking and strategizing with like-minds. Let’s face it, that conference entry fee is just really expensive permission to blow everything off for a week, not a path towards learning something that will help us make better decisions.
We Don’t Need No Thought Control
See, the inherent issue here is that if you want something to change, you have to teach people how to do it better in the first place. There are endemic issues across the recruiting and HR industries that we talk about at every conference – bad hiring managers, bad recruiters, retention, candidate experience – but I can’t point to one valid education pipeline. For example, we don’t train people how to be better managers yet we constantly fear the consequences of bad management. Then I sign up for some hour long recorded webinar about managers and leadership skills with the expectation that I will have what I need to do better next time? Good luck, buddy.
If we trained structural engineers this way, by pointing to problems rather than education on tactical solutions, I can tell you right now I wouldn’t be driving, flying or going anywhere because I would die. So why aren’t we enforcing an education mandate to the industry that impacts how we all spend 40+ hours a week?
No Dark Sarcasm In The Classroom
While I don’t have a formal answer – I don’t actually believe there is one – I do know that we’re missing out on the greatest asset we have: people we know. It’s time we let people know the real issues we’re facing and ask more questions. It’s time that we relied on our networks, not just our teammates, to discuss challenges. Dial the numbers and make an hour phone call instead of locking your team in a room for an “all day brainstorm.”
Think about this. At your next networking dinner, notice how quickly people jump to offer advice and help. A simple conversation about interviews or recruiting for a particular field are answered in minutes, not hours of brainstorming. This simple moment highlights the power in people – there are answers out there. Free ones. You don’t need to hire some $500 an hour consultant to figure things out if you just go ask questions.
About the Author
Katrina Kibben is the Director of Marketing for RecruitingDaily, and has served in marketing leadership roles at companies such as Monster Worldwide and Care.com, where she has helped both established and emerging brands develop and deliver world-class content and social media marketing, lead generation and development, marketing automation and online advertising.
An expert in marketing analytics and automation, Kibben is an accomplished writer and speaker whose work has been featured on sites like Monster.com, Brazen Careerist and About.com.