The Talentsky Inspiration
April 22, 2023 · Rick Devine Talentsky

How the Transformational Design to Change the Global Employment System Happened in Steve Jobs’ Remote Office

Authored by Rick Devine - Follow Rick on Talentsky

In my many years as an executive recruiter, I never followed the established path of matching clients’ job descriptions to a candidate’s resume. When conducting a search, I focused on two things: first, I talked to the company to understand what the role is – what are the actual tasks that this person needs to be able to do. Second, I talked to people to understand what they have done to determine if they are a strong match for the job. As most executives don’t update their resume, you could say I was trying to understand the bullet points on their (not updated) resume, their work achievements and associated skills.

My approach goes against how recruiting is currently conducted by almost all employers. Over the years, if a company needs to fill a job, an ad would be placed in a newspaper, someone would read it and send a resume to the company. The company would qualify candidates by matching job titles and reviewing the associated bulleted list of accomplishments. When the Internet came along, the process went digital, but it didn’t get better, just nosier. In fact, it became easier for job seekers to simultaneously apply to 100 jobs in one click.

Human resource professionals became overwhelmed by the task of managing the digitalization of recruiting. Posting ads to job boards generates tens of thousands of applicants. It’s an impossible task to sort through the volume and find the person who may not have the right resume, but has the ability to do the work, they have the skills needed. So, the recruiter matches the job description to the resume and leaves everyone else out of contention.

Meanwhile, over 90% of active job seekers who apply for a job never get an interview, never get a chance to tell their story. I have seen this firsthand and how demoralizing it can be for people.

Executive recruiting is more refined, but it’s an analog network. I would typically spend hours with the company to understand the role (the job) and a similar amount of time with each prospective candidate. With these insights, I would counsel both parties on the right fit.

Which brings me to Steve Jobs’ remote office.

I met Steve Jobs about 20 years ago when I was recruiting for Apple to find a Head of Worldwide Manufacturing Operations. At our first meeting, I was impressed how Steve never once mentioned a job title. Rather, he described the tasks and skills that were needed to fix Apple’s manufacturing unit. To Steve,  Apple wasn’t a group of people with titles, it was a system of tasks that needed to be done to execute his vision. If those tasks weren’t being done well, Steve focused on someone who could bring them to Apple — he did not care about the resume.

Steve’s outlook was the approach I had taken for years, so I knew I could  find the right match for him.

Tim Cook didn’t have the perfect resume for the Apple, but he did have the perfect skills for the job. If Steve Jobs had relied on the traditional means of recruiting, instead of finding someone who had the right skills, Tim Cook would never have been hired by Apple. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Steve Jobs reinforced the skill-matching approach I had already found successful. It got me thinking about how to move the entire industry from an analog process which supported executives only, to a digital platform that would help everyone. This platform would need to match people by skill requirements, making the employment system more understandable and fairer.

Steve Jobs was a great system designer and understood that task and skill matching was the most elegant design for the future labor system. With this inspiration, I founded Talentsky to leverage social media as tool to help people share and compare skills, and to help recruiters move from job ad pitching, to discovering people by skill relevance.

If Steve Jobs thought about the hiring world this way, why doesn’t everyone?

Soon they will – on  Talentsky.

Rick Devine April 22, 2023