Market Research Diamond-In-The-Rough: Hire People Before You Meet Them
Contrary to the social pressures we read about when job hunting or looking to market ourselves, I was delighted to read the following on the Advertising Principles Web site today:
“After summarizing decades of research on personnel selection, Meehl (1956) advised that when deciding whom to hire, one should make a decision before meeting a candidate. Another half century of research supported Meehl’s advice (Grove et al. 2000). This advice leads one to focus on information about a candidate’s ability to perform the job. When you meet a person, you are distracted by features that might be irrelevant to the job, such as height, accent, looks, weight, and gender. Thus, some orchestras have applicants play behind a curtain when auditioning, a procedure that has enabled more women to get these jobs.”
To see the full article, visit advertisingprinciples.com
The Advertising Principles Web site focuses on academic research into advertising, and that can apply to our individual lives today as we worry about our abilities to sustain ourselves as writers and creative people—whether we are employees or independent contractors—as corporations shut the doors of the future in our faces. Behind their closed doors, they hoard their capital and profit. Can you picture them with all their dollar bills stacked up to their necks, like hoarders with trash towers interspersed with narrow pathways?
About a decade ago, I sensed there were some rules to the game. There seemed a tacit acknowledgement that if you worked at the jobs that were in demand, like graphic design and programming, you could be included in the corporate world. Now, however, corporate America’s decision making is rife with the constant excuse of the addict: I can’t because I don’t believe I have enough.
So only the most political of human animals tends to have a voice today in our media and in our meeting rooms. It’s disconcerting to those of us who don’t fit that hyper-attractive model, and I admit a point of glee when I realized that, in advertising, the research showed the best way to hire someone creative is to do it sight-unseen, based upon their work—not based upon their statuesque beauty or their charm.
If we were to follow all the rules of job acquisition as per our American job hunting sites, we would wear a navy suit, visit the hair stylist and, if female (as I am), apply copious amounts of makeup. We’d find some new shoes and painfully (for me) attend to building a face and appearance that some corporate manager will find acceptable. We would practice the answers to questions that we can anticipate. We would make flash cards of our three “bullet-points” to convey about ourselves to leave the interviewer with a clear and lasting impression of our fit for the organization. Don’t forget that first impressions are everything!
I would so much prefer to live in a world that judged us by our creative ability rather than our ability to be uber-human and good looking and sexy and also have time to study anything of value beyond personal hygiene. There are some things I will never be able to achieve, and media good-looks is one of them.
What if everything we think we know is wrong? What if, all along, team work and positioning ourselves were not the end-all-be-all things to focus on in life? What if we acknowledge to ourselves that our own creative personalities make us difficult sometimes, and our lack of focus on politics—be they office politics or any other politics—is one of the most beautiful things about us?
(By the way, I think those invested in being ‘politically incorrect’ are as focused on politics as those who commit that purportedly most repulsive of acts—caring about others.)
This article opened up a lot of thoughts about what work means, and what I should be looking for in myself and other whom I hire in the future.