Many HR departments are building talent databases. BusinessWeek.com, under the catchy headline “This is Not Your Father’s HR,” recently reported that these companies, encouraged by HR software suppliers, are hoping they’ll be able to tap into those databases to fill positions at the end of the economic crisis.
My prediction, quoting Richard Dreyfus in Jaws: they’re all gonna die.
The idea of an employee database wouldn’t be a bad thing if it were a starting point for a dialogue between the person looking to fill a position and the applicant. The focus of the software should be the enabling of the dialogue, not the database. The programs on the market, however are quite literally databases where employees provide data allowing the software to characterize, analyze, and search them – but the employees themselves are passive. The article points out that “Many companies are now venturing far beyond rudimentary personality assessments with newer ‘psychometric’ testing, which measures knowledge, abilities, attitudes, and personality traits as a way to determine a candidate’s compatibility with a position.” The software does the matching: you want your employee tall, blond and handsome, so the software finds you all tall, blond and handsome candidates. Welcome to the eHarmony of business, where lonely hearts find the traits they have been seeking. And so the HR department can now claim it adds value.