Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pet Peeves About Job Searching

I saw a fantastic article at and couldn't resist posting it in its entirety:

Your business's most expensive asset is probably its people. It's all about those brains getting your work done, so you want the best you can possibly get, right? But, if you're not careful, you may be inadvertently driving away the best candidates with your recruitment policies. Here are five things good job candidates hate.

Tedious online applications. Go apply for a job at your company. How long does it take you? 30 minutes? An hour? Do you get almost done when it crashes and tells you to try again later? We like data. Data is good. But the method which many online job applications collect it is painful and intrusive and unnecessary. At some point, people who aren't desperate get fed up and quit.

Who are the least desperate for a new job? Those already employed in good positions. They tend to be the very people you want to hire.

You show me yours, but I won't show you mine. No one wants to go through a huge interview process only to find out that the job candidate wants $50,000 more than your budget will allow. But instead of having an honest discussion at the beginning, where both sides reveal what they are thinking, many recruiters demand candidates provide a complete salary history.

Now, the reality is that you should be tailoring the salary to fit the job and not basing it on previous salaries. I understand that your star candidate isn't likely to leave his current job for less money, but you know what? You never know. Instead of demanding their information, try giving up some of yours. Be honest: "We don't have an exact salary in mind for this position. It will depend on the candidate's skills, but we're looking for somewhere between $75,000 and $95,000."

Now, I know can see the sheer panic on the faces of your recruiters. "If we say that, everyone will expect $95,000!" No they won't. They aren't dumb.

Silence. If a candidate has simply submitted a resume, you're not obligated to do anything other than send an automated response that says, "We've received your resume. Don't contact us, we'll contact you." (Although you should say it a bit more nicely.)

Once you've brought someone in for an interview, radio silence is just rude. Socially unacceptable behavior. Inappropriate. You should fire your recruiters if they do this. Heaven knows I understand that things happen in the recruiting process--priorities change, budgets shrink, internal candidates get shuffled around. Still, once someone has taken time out of their day to come in to your office, you owe them a response. Remember that the candidate who isn't exactly right for today's open position may be perfect for tomorrow's open position. Simply by not responding, you may have lost that candidate forever.

Meaningless job descriptions. "Dynamic individual, self starter, who can provide thought leadership, through effective communication." Sound familiar? It means nothing. I mean, honestly, is there job description out there that says, "Boring individual, drone, will be micro-managed and expected to communicate poorly"? Because otherwise, the first job description is meaningless.

Focus on what the person in the position will actually do. And don't worry about skills that are not needed. If someone's job is going to be to sit in a cube and produce TPS reports, they don't need to be dynamic thought leaders, so don't ask for it. When you write a job description, sit down and write a list of tasks that the candidate would be expected to do in a week. Provide that information and your candidates will self-screen.

Too much focus on the perfect candidate. We all want perfection, but it's not likely that the picture you've created in your head actually exists. So don't throw out the great candidates in your search for the perfect candidate. Some things can be taught. Others really aren't necessary. I've seen people dragged through four or more rounds of interviews only to be rejected at the end, and the position reposted. In the meantime, not only does this make quality candidates want to avoid you like the plague, but you're spending a fortune trying to find someone and the position is still empty. Look for great, yes, but not perfect.


Over the years, I have raged about all of these things (especially #1 and #2).  The one that isn't on here but should be is slogging through that tedious application process only to reach the end and then upload your resume.  Seriously??  Why did I just waste an hour filling out a bajillion stupid little boxes when I could have just uploaded the document and given you everything you needed in one shot?  Personally, I find this an immediate turn-off, and a first strike to even wanting to work at that company.

I think the reality is that most companies are absolutely atrocious in their hiring process, and are guilty of most -- if not all -- of these simultaneously.  This stuff happens on job changes within a company, too, which is simply compounding the original mistakes.  If someone is already an employee, they already know a pretty fair amount about the company and don't need the outward-facing gibberish intended to persuade people to come work there.  Instead, how about you get real with people who've already committed to you and focus on getting the right person with the right skills into the right position.

Unfortunately, too many HR departments are huddled in their secretive caves of "confidentiality" with giant blinders preventing them from seeing anything but how they've "always done it" in the past, living in the stone ages of dead tree resumes and giant collections of text boxes, inconveniencing applicants to no end, and being actively hostile toward real human beings who are trying to improve their lives and careers.

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