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    « Can Technology Change Culture? | Main | Does Social Media influence your participation? »

    Nowhere to hide from technology

    Two weeks ago while driving through the countryside of Central Pennsylvania, USA  I happened to pull off the highway for a dinner stop in a sort of run-of-the-mill little town, the kind of little town that anyone that drives the major interstate highways in the US has seen hundreds of times.

    A gas station, a couple of fast food restaurants, and a hint that if I carried on just a bit further down the access road maybe some small houses or trailers, and beyond that I'd bet farms and the sort of vast nothingness typical of large sections of middle America. 

    Definitely the kind of place to stop, refuel, maybe grab a bite to eat, and put in the rearview and instantly forget.

    When I walked in to the McDonald's for the mandatory road tip junk food dinner, I ran smack into this:


    The only way for job seekers to apply for a job in this little McDonalds in the middle of nowhere was via this online kiosk system. Now it could be that this particular McDonalds has the pulse of the local candidate pool, and is well aware that their target applicant is tech savvy, and will have no problems navigating the online process so moving to an online method is an intelligent strategy.

    Or more likely the regional or corporate office has decided that an online process is more efficient, less expensive, and results in more actionable intelligence for those in McDonalds management.

    But to the job seeker who walks into that McDonalds in hopes of landing a job, the motivations behind the decision to go to an automated process don't really matter.  They are forced to accept this, and either comply with the process if they want to be considered, or head on down the road to the Arby's and try their luck there. 

    And for (mostly) part-time jobs filled by teenagers and students this is probably perfectly acceptable. The staff on duty when I walked in did not have much to say about the online application kiosk, I am sure they thought is was strange that someone was even asking about it.

    To me the lesson that I take from the online job application kiosk for a tiny McDonalds in a tiny town in Nowhereville, USA is this one:

    You can't hide anymore from technology if you want to particpate in the modern economy.  This has many levels:

    The job seeker in this McDonalds had better know how to type on a keyboard, and follow basic computer commands.

    The college grad trying to break in to finance, marketing, IT, or HR had better have a solid LinkedIn profile, familiarity and skills searching for jobs online, and the ability to demonstrate technical acumen once they join the workforce.

    The HR professional trying to find ways to reduce costs and improve administrative processes better be very familiar with the capabilities of their HRIS (if they have one) or with the latest developments in the HR Technology marketplace (if they don't).

    The recruiter that needs to find, engage, and ultimately hire the best talent for their positions better know how to source, and engage potential candidates with increasingly sophisticated multi-media tools, better be on social networks and adept on how to best leverage them to meet their recruiting objectives.

    And the HR leader in the position of having to continually justify expenditure and prove return on HR programs had better have access to and understand analytical tools to effectively measure the business outcomes of their efforts.

    These are just a few examples, I am sure there are many more, but the key point is, no matter where you find yourself on the scale, from entry level job-seeker in rural Pennsylvania, to VP of HR at a Fortune 500 firm, you can't get away from the technology.

    Heck, even your Mom is on Facebook.


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    Reader Comments (6)

    Technology is here to stay.

    There is no way, in the modern business world, that we can hide our heads as leaders and accept that people "don't know" technology. If they don't know, they must be taught. And if they can't be taught, most likely they will be left behind.

    Even my mechanics know electronics. They have to. Its part of the machinery.
    The tech manuals are online.

    And as I used to tell the folks that applied at my former retail employer - if you can't fill out an online application, how are you going to place a custom order, look up a sku, or complete training (most of which was e-learning)?

    August 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commentertlcolson

    Tammy you make some great points. The technology required in almost all types of positions today far exceeds what was needed even a short time ago. In my experience with implementing technology across all members of large organizations I have generally found more resistance and pushback from those employees who really ought to be the most tech savvy by virtue of their position in the organization. The resistance was usually to the change initiative itself, not so much the technology per se, but it certainly was a factor. Thanks very much for reading and for your comments.

    August 17, 2009 | Registered CommenterSteve

    What I found facinating from the HR perspective let alone the technology side of it was that the signage was in multiple languages and it appears the assistance at the counter was in brail as well ?? That seems pretty progressive for the off-highway town as well.

    August 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTRITZ1263

    Good points, Tritz. I did try to get some information from the folks working there that night, but I think I sort of surprised them by asking questions about it and they did not have much to say. It was on the weekend in the evening, so I am sure they thought I was some kind of weirdo. Thanks for sharing your comments.

    August 17, 2009 | Registered CommenterSteve

    We require all applicants to go through our online application system. Some of our applicants gripe with things like, "I just want a custodial or grounds position....' And I say all of our physical plant work orders are electronic, ordering supplies -all online and your payroll and time entry - electronic. Adapt or rust.

    That's an awesome picture btw ....

    August 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDeirdre

    Thanks Dee for the comments, I know that from discussing this issue with you that you take the applicant experience and capabilities into account when designing your systems. Many companies certainly don't and unfortunately for job seekers, the balance of power has certainly shifted. Thanks as always for reading and sharing your thoughts.

    August 18, 2009 | Registered CommenterSteve

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