Programming Human Perfectibility?

Can online job services not only find good employees, but also help people become better employees? No online service can make people perfect, but the right one might enable people to become as perfect as they need to be.

NEW YORK – In theory, it is hard to think of any nobler computer service than the typical “Help Wanted” board. It helps people find work that fulfills their potential, and it helps employers find people who can use their infrastructure (whether machines or office equipment or even just a methodology for service delivery) to satisfy the needs of businesses and consumers around the world.

That was why, long ago, I invested in a European job board. But when they asked me to give a talk in Tallinn, Estonia, under the title “How to find the right people,” I balked.

That’s because, in practice, job boards fail to fulfill their potential. The best people usually find jobs (or are found) through professional connections, and most mediocre people get mediocre or worse jobs where they lose whatever potential they had. Even at their best, all job boards do is allocate scarce talent resources; they don’t create them.

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