The Data Behind Being a Highly Selective Employer

Tim Sackett Audacious Ideas, HR, Selection, The HR Profession, Tim Sackett

We all think it, don’t we? We all want to believe in this notion that we only hire the best and brightest. We only hire quality.  We are “highly” selective.

We’ll show our executives really cool data that shows how “highly” selective we are. Number of applicants per hire—25,000 people applied for this position and we only took the best one!

I read something interesting from Time magazine and college admissions at highly selective colleges, think Harvard, Yale, MIT, etc.—schools that are super hard to get into because of how selective they are, much like your hiring process of your organization. From the Time article:

“What many parents and students don’t realize is that increasing numbers of applications isn’t necessarily a sign that it’s harder to get into a selective school; rather, it’s a sign of changes in behavior among high school seniors. More and more people who aren’t necessarily qualified are applying to top schools, inflating the application numbers while not seriously impacting admissions. In fact, it has arguably become easier to get into a selective school, though it may be harder to get into a particular selective school…

The most recent study available from the National Association for College Admission Counseling shows that between 2010 and 2011 (the most recent years available), the percentage of students applying to at least three colleges rose from 77% to 79% and the percentage of students applying to at least seven colleges rose from 25% to 29%. In 2000, only 67% of students applied to three or more colleges, while 12% applied to seven or more.

The net effect of this behavior is to create an illusion of increased selectivity.

Employers do the same thing.  Google gets about 2 million applications each year from people who want to work at Google. Google hires about 15,000 people each year. The net effect is about 1 out of every 130 applicants gets hired by Google.  Wow, that’s “highly” selective! Or, it’s just math, being used to portray something that isn’t real.

Google is probably less selective than many other organizations, but you wouldn’t know it, because those other organizations are selective!  Part of being selective is not sharing a ton of information.  Google is the Harvard of hiring, but temper your enthusiasm.

They are very popular, and a very strong company, so they get a ton of applicants. The data shows us this.  The data does not show us they are selective. Just popular.

So, what makes you a highly selective employer?

1. You go after “measurably” better skill sets.

2. You have an unwavering selection process that is proven to hire a strong fit for your culture.

3. Your business results prove you hire better talent.

Highly selective isn’t about numbers. Highly selective is about better.

FOT Note:  We here at FOT like to think we get talent and HR at a different level. At the very least, we are probably going to have a different take than the norm. That’s why we asked  HireVue to be an annual sponsor at FOT, where they’ll sponsor posts like this one, allowing FOT contributors to write, without restriction, on all things related to talent and predictive analytics and how it impacts our organizations. Most of us will never get the science behind all of this, and to help, HireVue is also signed up to sponsor a FOT video series aptly names “Weird Science.” Be on the lookout for latest episode of Weird Science later this month.