“Employer branding” . . . “culture fit” . . . “ATS” . . . “candidate experience” . . . They’re just some of the buzz words and phrases we’ve had to become familiar with since starting on this journey to build a better hiring experience for employer and candidate alike.
But “information asymmetry” was a new one on us.
So what is it?
Says Laszlo Bock, SVP, People Operations at Google:
“Information asymmetry is when one party has better information than another party. Let’s say I’m selling my car and I know the passenger door rattles when I drive over 65 mph. You are buying my car, and have no idea. That’s information asymmetry.”
Ok, grand. But why is this relevant to us here at Clinch, and since you’re reading this, to you, as an employer or job seeker?
“Job-matching efforts also suffer from information asymmetry, or what I call the Color Blue Problem. How do I know that when I see the color blue, it’s the same as when you see it? How do I know that when I describe myself to an employer, they know what I mean? And that when a hiring manager describes what she wants in a job posting, how do I know what she means?”
Aha. So, what he’s referring to is the shambles most people tend to make of their CVs, resumes, and job ads. Now, there’s something we can all relate to!
Bock reckons that, “Unemployment is an information asymmetry problem” and that, “in the short-term, much unemployment could be eliminated by doing a better job of matching people and jobs. By solving the Color Blue Problem.”
We have to agree with him.
So, how do we solve that “color blue problem” and bring around more, better quality matches between employer and candidate?
In our minds, it’s pretty simple, and it’s nothing you haven’t heard before. What's needed is full disclosure, honesty, and transparency.
We’ve all had that friend who, desperate to find their prince or princess charming, has created the online dating profile, only to find themselves one year on, still home alone on a Friday night, a string of failed romances or dating disasters in their wake.
“But why?” wails said friend to their friends, their mother, or their cat, “I’m a good person! I deserve happiness, too!”
And we don’t doubt that.
What you DO have to wonder, however, is whether or not this friend was entirely truthful when it came to filling out that dating profile and stating plainly and simply, who they are, what they’re about, and what they wanted in a partner.
Chances are, in an effort to make themselves sound “more appealing,” they might have described themselves as “outdoorsy” and “adventurous,” when in reality, their idea of an “outdoorsy adventure” is eating brunch al fresco at a different cafe to usual.
Surely this person cannot be in the least bit surprised or clueless as to what “their problem” is then when the only potential romantic leads come from those whose interests include bungee jumping, white water rafting, and seeking out the world’s spiciest chicken wings?
It's with a similar incredulity then, that we view employers or candidates who, for whatever reason, don't make honesty a priority when it comes to crafting a job application or description. How can they be surprised or frustrated when the companies or candidates that approach them don't match up with what they'd envisioned in their mind, but not communicated on paper?
Image by Cali4beach licenced under CC BY 2.0
Words matter. Personas matter. The image you project as a company or candidate, matters. All that content and communication works together to influence the response of your target audience, so it’s in your own best interests to state your case clearly and honestly when it comes to laying out who you are, what you’re about, and exactly what it is you want from a new hire, or a new job.
We talked before about the importance of creating a careers page that packs a punch. Well, there’s no point in going to all this effort to create a job ad or careers page if the description that’s up there is at all falsified or contrived. If you as a company want to attract the right kind of people for your team, people who will fit in with your culture, you have to paint an accurate picture of what that team and culture is really like.
If what Laszlo Bock says is true, that “much unemployment could be eliminated by doing a better job of matching people and jobs,” then why aren’t we making a more concerted effort to bring about those matches? It’s not hard. In fact, the math is easy: better, more authentic representations of companies and candidates lead to better hires. By being upfront and clear cut right from the outset, you're on course for a hire that stands the test of time.
What have any of us got to lose by choosing honesty? Nothing. By solving the "Color Blue Problem" - opting for clarity and plain english in our resumes and job ads, and ridding them of ambiguity - we, and our economies, only stand to gain.