Human Resources Disasters – Plains Perspective

Date PublishedFebruary 24, 2014
CompanyPlains Fabrication
Article AuthorTom McCaffery
Article TypeFebruary 2014 Issue
CategoryArticles, Oil & Gas
Tags, , , ,
HUB SEARCHPlainsFabrication
PULSE Interactive

Human Resources Disasters – Plains Perspective

“So your company hires the best resume writers and not the best candidate?”

pic1I recently attended a conference on Skilled Worker Migration in Calgary, and I got into a debate about the use of mining software in the Human Resources Departments across Canada. If you are unaware of this practice in the industry, what essentially happens is a computer program filters through resumes looking for key words, and then spits out the supposed “best candidates” to fill your position. This is assuming the person who is hiring knows exactly what they are looking for, and the candidate who is looking for a position sets his or her resume up to have those exact key words in the resume. My sarcastic take on this to the HR people sitting at my table was, “So your company hires the best resume writers and not the best candidate?” To my surprise, I had two very professional looking HR people then defend the use and the need for this product.

Now, I am not an “old guy” yet – more of a “middle aged” guy – so when I tell you technology is running amok here, please don’t see that as an elderly GM lamenting about the good ole days on his way to the retirement home. I apologize if I am affronted by two well-paid professionals (this is my assumption as they worked for large companies) telling me they are “too busy” to look through and read all the resumes they are sent. They then tell me how well it works and how often it finds great candidates. But when I ask if they do random checks to test the theory of how well it works, the answer is ‘no’ as they “don’t have time for that”.

I guess I’m confused. Maybe I am getting old, but I can’t resist the following comment in retort to their love of mining software- “So, it works great and ads good candidates, but your company is sending you to a conference that costs $3,000.00 a person and is focused on the Canada wide need for foreign skilled workers?” Hmmm, that doesn’t add up in my mind.

I know there are certain skilled trades in deficit, and my exact definition of deficit is: people who possess a skilled trade who want to work night or swing shifts and/or live permanently in tiny, ill-serviced areas. I can find people all day long who want to work regular shifts in Calgary, but finding a highly skilled B-Pressure Welder who wants to work night shifts is like finding a leprechaun. So explain to me how, given the de nation of a deficit, would a software program that spits people out for any discrepancy on a resume, serve to help my search for a leprechaun/B-Pressure Welder?

One more thing, if I hear another person tell me they need these types of tools because they “don’t have time” to do a task that is a basic job skill of any manager or HR person, I think I might just dig a hole and jump in never to be seen again. What happened to good old fashion talent hunting? What happened to interviewing people and getting to know them? What happened to training people UP to do a job? The idea of training people UP meant growing them into a position.

HR should not only search for people by reading every single resume submitted, they should find people with similar talents as well as specific talents.

We live in an instant grate cation society and this has seeped into our companies. It’s not HR’s fault if our managers only want perfect people to fit into a role to make their lives easier. If they were good managers, they’d realize nding the right person, then training him or her to do the job, is what managing people is about. To me, Human Resources takes the easy road by using mining software, and if the perfect candidate doesn’t exist on paper, the HR department feels it is absolved from filling the position. If that doesn’t t in the box, then there must be a skills shortage in that profession. To me, these responses don’t hold water. Perfection doesn’t exist, and we need to stop searching for it. If we don’t start training them, the next generation is in real trouble.

HR should not only search for people by reading every single resume submitted, they should find people with similar talents as well as specific talents. Find me someone who has had a previous position where they learned the role while doing it, find me a person who has a track record of learning on the job, find me a person who has been promoted in their previous company. Stop trying to find me someone with an MBA, who has never set foot into a business, when a candidate, who has managed businesses for 20 years without an MBA, is automatically rejected by a computer program. Give me the school of hard knocks over the easy way to the top any day of the week.

One final story I’ll leave you with from that same conversation. One HR person defending the software relayed a story about a specific type of programmer they were looking for. They put the ads up, and a month later, they had no candidates using their normal method. So, they sent the resumes to the manager who found a woman who had somewhat related experience, they interviewed her, and they felt she could learn what was needed. Apparently, she turned out to be one of the stars of the company and everyone loved her.

I sadly relay this story as the person telling it did not have the light bulb moment. How many “stars” have they passed up? My guess is they’ve passed up more great people by not actually looking for them than the President of company would like to know about.

A Call to Arms… A Vision for a Stronger Canadian Manufacturing Industry

Tom McCaffery
General Manager






Originally published in the 

February 2014 Issue of Oilfield PULSE