The Anthropology of Work

From the blog

After LinkedIn

While I’ve not conducted scientific research on the subject, I’m more or less sure that LinkedIn is a Baby Boomer thing.  Maybe Gen X too, but not Gen Y or Gen C.

Resumes.  Networking.  Career “connections” (vs. social connections).

“I used to be the Sr. VP of Marketing and Sales at Acme Pipe Manufacturing Corporation…I have had progressive management responsibilities over the past 9 years, and my career has been really really awesome!  Because of all these things (that I am telling you) you can take my word that I’m kind’of’a big deal!

For many years I have been teaching college students, starting with Gen X and now Gen Y students.  I have also worked with many Miillenials (Gen Yrs) over the years as well, and have developed a keen sense of what makes the different generations tick.  Recently, as a bit of an experiment (albeit not a scientific experiment), I asked the students in my Fundamentals of Management class (around 90 students), how many of them had LinkedIn accounts?  Three hands went up…3!

Granted, these are students, and they are not actively seeking career-employment.  This accounts for part of the reason they are not yet on LinkedIn.  I get that.

However, I suspect that, quite frankly, LinkedIn simply doesn’t reflect/embody the prevailing cultural mood of their generation.  Self promotion and chest-thumping are not their style.

Results vs. Resumes

Millenials are more keen on results than they are on resumes.  Resumes point to the past, as if justifying the decisions of one’s life.  Gen Y lives in the present, pointed towards the future.

Resumes are great texts.  They tell stories, paint narratives of skills and experience.  Skills are great too, no question about it.  Sadly, though, they can too easily become the only currency that HR managers know or have to trade.

To qualify for this job, you need:

  • 7 years experience being really awesome
  • A Bachelors in this and a Masters in that
  • C+- certification, and a black belt in 7 sigma
  • At least 67 years of progressive management responsibilities in a Fortune 8 company

Seems that the only way to really see one’s potential to produce results is to actually review the results.  Not past results, necessarily, but what those results might look like right here right now.

What Can You  Do Now?

In the future, when the majority of hiring managers are Millennials, issues such as if you have a degree (much less from where), how many years experience you have doing this or how many certifications you have doing that, or what companies you worked for in the past, will matter much less than ‘what you can do now!’  That is, over time, results will trump resumes.  Of course, resumes can and do point to past results, and this should not be overlooked.  But, given the art and hyperbole that characterize so many resumes (and for the most part all of LinkedIn) it is wise to be suspicious.

Talent Off Anyone?

What we need to consider now, then, is how to test for these capabilities in the present, given the current technology and knowledge?  Do we stage competitions?  Talent offs?  What about extend trial periods where potential project workers or new hires prove themselves before getting a pair of velvet hand-cuffs?  Not quite sure of all the details, don’t have the answers.  But some kinds of interactive, actually-doing-stuff formats will get us much closer to real results on the ground than can the grand fictional narratives in LinkedIn’s library of resumes!

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