The infamous one word line from the movie “The Graduate” with Dustin Hoffman. This year is the 40th anniversary of one of the most iconic movies of the 1960s. I know many of you were not even born yet or have any idea about this time piece movie. Nor do most of you draw a connection between this movie and the world we live in today.
So, let’s do a quick review: A wayward graduate of Williams College meanders, lounging at a pool all summer, pondering his future after graduation. He listens to lots of hollow advice from his parents’ friends about job prospects. Has an affair with a married woman (Anne Bancroft playing Mrs. Robinson) and falls in love with her daughter (Elaine Robinson played by Katherine Ross) as he tries to figure out what to do with the rest of his life. The suggestion of working with “plastics” is a seminal moment. The movie soundtrack features Simon and Garfunkel and several hits including “The Sound of Silence” and “Mrs. Robinson”. It put Dustin Hoffman on the road to super stardom and is one of the most famous movies in Hollywood history.
But my discussion is not about movies or plastics, it’s about how much has changed and yet in many ways stayed the same the past 40 years for our current college graduates. The back drop of the late sixties is important. Political activism is back. Like 40 years ago, marches, demonstrations and political involvement are again in vogue. Race, gender and sexual orientation are still burning political issues. Can you say, “North Carolina” and bathroom rules… Concern over military action in the Middle East and North Korea still hang over us like a Led Zeppelin. So, does the icy relationship with Russia. The race to space still looms large, however now with private corporations instead of government sponsored programs (NASA). So in many ways the world for students graduating college this year has a spooky similarity to the world in 1967.
For college graduates this May, the uncertainty of finding work still looms as large as it did for Benjamin (the Dustin Hoffman character) 40 years ago. It’s no longer Plastics, but A.I. that rules the conversation of emerging technology and the future of work.
Yes, the world has also changed so much too in 40 years. We are now online 24 x 7. Artificial intelligence and “Bots” are the new buzz words for 2017. Especially in the recruiting space.
In a strange way though, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
College Students still interview for jobs on-campus with live recruiters every fall and spring. Accounting, banking, law, engineering, consulting, medical and education entry level positions are still filled through the same recruiting process as 40 years. ago. Ok, there is the use of social media and some online administrative activities that are new, but it’s basically the same. Major corporations still wine and dine the top candidates on campus and offer positions on the spot as they fill their pipeline of new recruits.
My daughter, who is graduating college as this post goes live, and most of her friends have participated in this on-campus recruiting dance this past year. A few have skipped this and are going directly to graduate school. I am happy to report most have landed jobs along with their diplomas (including my daughter).
And I know what you are about to say… yes, there is a much larger segment of college grads that are passed over or do not participate in on-campus recruiting. Their path to employment post-college is very different then 40 years ago—and it’s a discussion I will leave for another day.
However, with all the technology available, recruiters still default to in person interviewing when searching for the best and brightest students each year. In that respect, little has changed over 4 decades.
It makes one think about defaulting to old school methods in other types of recruitment. In depth face to face interviews…. stripped of technology. I know the recruiters reading this are saying “Mark you’re crazy” (maybe I am). The new technology and use of BOTS saves time, money and takes the biases out of the process. Or does it?
Machine learning programs carry biases forward and perpetuate them. If a certain gender, skin color and demographic have been successful in the past than one might question what the “machines” will use as data going forward.
In any event, there is still some value for using intuition and face to face contact in college recruiting.
Maybe I am a renaissance man, or maybe I just prefer old school to new school. For now it is still “Human” Resources…until one day when it is not. I think we still have a little time.