Do Companies Need to Shake Up the Way They Find Tech Talent?

Do Companies Need to Shake Up the Way They Find Tech Talent?
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Why you should care

Because it’s time to shake up how companies find talent.

OZY and JPMorgan Chase & Co. have partnered to bring you an inside look at how entrepreneurs are coming up with innovative methods to help the communities around them. Enjoy the rest of our special series here.

Everything about business today is changing, from how companies are run to the way customers interact with brands they love. So it seems incredible that the most important part of building a successful company — recruiting talent — has barely changed at all. Writing résumés, filling out application forms, face-to-face interviews: That’s how it’s been done for decades. If ever there was something that needed disruption, it’s the way people apply for and get jobs.

The Harvard Business Review has estimated that as much as 80 percent of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions.

By relying exclusively on traditional recruiting practices, businesses are not being exposed to the broadest variety of candidates. This is perhaps especially true in technology, a sector renowned for its overabundance of white, college-educated males. In fact, less than 20 percent of people studying computer science today are female, according to Ali Marano, head of technology for social good, diversity & inclusion at JPMorgan Chase.

Liran Weizman was not an obvious candidate for a tech job — at least not according to traditional rules. In college, Weizman had studied for a double major in psychology and public relations, and only became interested in coding during her senior year. Still, Weizman enjoyed coding so much that she crammed in enough classes to earn a coding minor. But compared to peers who majored in computer sciences, she would appear underqualified within the confines of the standard recruitment process.

“No one thought a tech job was in the cards for me,” Weizman admits. She notes that her coding professor and even her own family said she lacked the skills for such a career.

Today, Weizman works as a technologist at JPMorgan Chase. In addition to her own ambition, she has the company’s Tech Connect program to thank — an initiative that recruits graduates interested in tech careers, but who lack the traditional background. Weizman earned the chance to receive weeks of specialized training and coaching with Tech Connect, and has been employed at JPMorgan Chase ever since.

“We want a diverse workforce, and for us that includes people who think differently,” explains Marano, who oversees Tech Connect. “Someone who isn’t traditionally trained in computer science will approach problems and technology with diversity of thought. We value those unique perspectives.” It is, after all, unique thought that breeds innovation.

Sticking to the exclusively age-old rules of recruitment, then, just doesn’t make sense. The lack of innovation within recruitment is a large-scale, deeply entrenched issue and needs serious investment.

Encouragingly, some forward-thinking enterprises are getting on board. JPMorgan Chase is seeking untapped talent by experimenting with various innovative recruitment methods, such as its Autism at Work program. Given that people on the autism spectrum often struggle in social situations, the program cast traditional job interviews aside, with great results.

IBM is experimenting with video testimonials; and the consortium of companies, including Microsoft, working with JPMorgan Chase to further develop practices for hiring candidates with autism.

As Marano says, “A diverse workforce drives our innovation.” Doing a more innovative job of recruiting is where the innovation really starts.

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