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Using HR technology to elect the next president

HUMAN RESOURCES (HR) practitioners know best how to hire the most qualified job candidates. Can the same HR technology help choose the next President?

HR geeks and buffs today employ a number of rational, technology-assisted processes to determine the best candidate for any job. In the past, recruitment was simple. Just put a square peg in a square hole, a round peg in a round hole. You simply look at the candidates’ education, training and experience. Then, you match the person with the job.

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Over the years, HR technology evolved. Geeks invaded the HR practice. Today, competency-based recruitment and selection, targeted selection (courtesy of DDI), and people analytics help make better hiring decisions. In some large multinationals, there are serious mathematicians and data scientists applying data science to the human side of the business.

The Targeted Selection® system of DDI focuses on three processes: identifying the right selection criteria through job analysis; gathering pertinent candidate information; and evaluating the information gathered and making an accurate hiring decision.

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Messy environment

Despite the availability of HR technology, electing the best President is not easy. The political environment continues to be cluttered by propaganda, mudslinging, misinformation, disinformation, diversion, lies and more lies. Voter education is wanting and limited to what the voters hear in paid ads. It’s a blessing that the debates are helping show the voters not just the competence, but also the character, of the candidates. Endorsements by business, government, church and civil society leaders are often self-serving to the endorsers.

HR process

The HR managers’ job is not to give away jobs. They match the candidates with both the jobs and the organization’s present and future needs. They don’t get money or favors from job candidates. They are clear about the job criteria in selecting the best candidates. They gather relevant information and have the candidates’ background checked. They validate and evaluate the information through a series of job interviews to make a more accurate decision. Voters should use a process like this if they expect to have the best people run the government.

Hiring myths

Most HR people understand that the following are false:

The candidate with the most experience is the best qualified. Past experience is an indicator of future performance, in the same job. But, a great salesman does not always make a great sales manager. The salesman’s job is about selling, the other about managing. It does not follow that an experienced Senator will make a great President. The Senator’s job is legislative in nature – the President’s job is that of the chief executive. Also, experience should not be confused with long tenure. What count more about experience are performance and achievement.

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A candidate without experience should not be hired. Not true. Several competencies are transferable from one job to another, including critical thinking, communication, mental toughness, leadership, decisiveness, and interpersonal relationships. Most skills can be learned. But some things are hard to change – character and personality.

The best candidates will always get hired. Whether in corporate or government, there are no guarantees that the best candidates will always be chosen. Decision-makers don’t always look at the job criteria, competencies or character as basis for their choice. Often the people who get hired, promoted or elected are not the most qualified. They are those who know best how to get hired, promoted or elected.

Hiring truths

HR practitioners understand the following truths:

The best candidate “can do” and “will do” the job. During the selection process, HR people look out for “can do” and “will do” clues. The first refers to knowledge, skills and attitudes that enable job candidates to perform well. The second refers to motivation for wanting the job.

Potential is a better indicator of performance. All candidates have no prior experience as Philippine President. Following are good indicators of potential to perform the job best: proven track record for impressive results, ability to take charge and make things happen, broad global perspective, ability to see the “forest and the trees” and the “big picture” on crucial issues, inspiring confidence, great decision-making, persuasion and influence, multi-tasking, ability to bounce back from adversities, health and energy, and ability to manage change.

The real qualifications are inside the candidates. It’s not the scholastic degree that one has or hasn’t that truly matters. It’s not about past positions one has held. It’s the stuff that the candidate is made of that counts when the going gets tough on the actual job.

In choosing the next President, let’s use HR technology. The future of the Filipinos is a great cause to fight for. Let’s be cause-oriented, not cash-oriented.

(Ernie is the 2013 Executive Director and 1999 President of the People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP); Chair of the AMCHAM Human Capital Committee; and Co-Chair of ECOP’s TWG on Labor and Social Policy Issues. He also chairs the Accreditation Council for the PMAP Society of Fellows in People Management. He is President and CEO of EC Business Solutions and Career Center. Contact him at [email protected])

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