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Strategic hiring Strategic hiring
by Joseph Gatt
2020-07-11 09:28:36
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Knowledge and power. Knowledge or power. Knowledge? Or power?

Most companies look at the following when hiring staff: degrees and diplomas, work experience and skills. Other important be often unstated factors: financial status of applicants, social and family background, area of residence, ethnicity and religion, physical attributes (and physical attractiveness), age, former areas of residence and other factors (including “name” so they'll hire a Golda Banks to head the accounting division).

But let's break these down. To me, there are four types of hiring strategies among most companies and organizations:

-More knowledge, more power

-Less knowledge, more power

strat001_400-Focus exclusively on knowledge, power is horizontal and shared equally among staff

-Focus exclusively on power, knowledge is defined as “tokens.”

Let's break these down briefly.

More knowledge, more power: these companies tend to use a philosophy where they will look at your resume, and try to “calculate” how much knowledge you have. They will assume that you did your learning part in college and grad school, that you learned a lot on your previous jobs, and that your skills are useful. They might also look at other factors such as your “social background” and try to figure out who you socialize with and what circles you are a member of.

In sum, the more “knowledge” you have, the higher your position will be in the hierarchy. If your expertise in computer science is great, you will lead a group of computer scientists. BUT, even though you do have power over those you are leading, you will be expected to put your knowledge to good use. If you or your team make mistakes, YOU will be held responsible.

Countries where a lot of companies use this model: Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, the UK, Ireland, many companies in Eastern Europe, many companies in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia to a certain extent, and even Latin America to a certain extent.

Less knowledge, more power: these are often companies where profits and revenue streams are often a mixture of legal and illegal activities. Companies where the accounting books are often “cooked.” For example, some universities will really use education as a “front” and will in fact recruit the “prettiest” students and offer them tuition reduction or waivers in exchange for working as sex workers (these universities exist).

In such organizations, they often try to hire people with less knowledge. That is they will hire the ones who send the most “ludicrous” resumes, and will hire people who clearly don't have a clue about much of anything. In sum, people “dumb as a rock but who can type.” Such workers are often either used as “fronts” or as “moles” in illegal activities. And the “dumb” ones tend to get promotions and end up in leadership positions, sometimes working as “mules” within their organizations.

Focus exclusively on knowledge: some organizations dislike titles and hierarchy, and try to hire the most knowledgeable individuals to work together as a team. Such organizations often look for two clues: how much knowledge do the applicants have, and are the applicants hinting that they want to be in “power” positions.

When applying to such organizations, I suggest you do away with terms such as “leader” or “pioneer” or such in your resume. Don't give hints that you want to compete with your colleagues.

Countries that use this model a lot: Israel, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and a few other countries like Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland and the like.

Focus exclusively on power

In these organizations, knowledge is equated with power. Except that knowledge is quantified in terms of test scores rather than “practical knowledge.”

These organizations often want to hire people who are comfortable being in “power” positions. So they will look at “powerful universities” and “powerful high school background” and “experience working for “powerful” companies”, and holding certifications for skills that are deemed “powerful” and the like.

In such organizations, the accumulation of these “power” tokens leads to automatic promotions and easy access to powerful leadership positions.

Problem with this model: some people cheat their way through the tokens, and corruption to obtain tokens is rather common. Also, companies often don't “test” knowledge qualitatively, and often put people in charge they think are “knowledgeable” when in fact all they have is the tokens without the knowledge.

Countries that use this model: Japan, France, South Korea and some companies in Southeast Asia and East Asia.

Which model would you use for your company?

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