Throughout my career I’ve interviewed many hundreds of candidates from jobs that range from part time warehouse positions to executive roles in a range of companies from small businesses to $100+ million dollar organizations. What I can recall as common in the process is the posturing of the hiring company. So often the hiring company acts as if they are offering a grand reward that candidates should be honored to be considered. As my career has progressed, I realize that quite often the opposite position is not taken.
One of the highest compliments that I can receive is that someone wants to join my team. They would like to spend nearly half of their waking hours representing our brand and working to serve our customers. Think about that. People are considering spending nearly half of their life with you when they decide to work for your company. Yet in the hiring practice, their is rarely any gratitude to the people who apply to work on your team.
Most applications go completely unanswered and potentially they are not even looked at. Companies dictate how they approve to be communicated with to reduce the amount of interruption the hiring process causes in their day however they rarely reciprocate with an application status plan. The best candidate probably doesn’t even know where she stands.
When was the last time you looked for a job? Do you think you were given a fair look at the opportunities? Was the application process tailored to finding the best suited candidate or was it tailored to reduce the amount of communication received by the hiring company? Do you remember how emotional the search process was?
- Excitement to see a job posting that appears to be a fit.
- Concern that your Cover Letter & Resume tell a compelling enough story.
- Anxiety to hear back from the company.
- Excitement when you receive an interview opportunity.
- Eagerness to look sharp and be prepared.
- Nervousness before and during the interview.
- Anxiety to hear back.
- Excitement to receive an offer.
- Nervousness to have to negotiate terms.
- Depression when you don’t hear back or are rejected.
All of these emotions are impacted by the hiring company at some level. When searching for a job, regardless of validity, it always feels that everyone who is employed by the hiring company is superior to you. This is especially true when you are contacting the company to check on an application status, request that your application be reviewed or offer more information that was not able to be submitted in the online form. In many cases, when you do initiate contact, you are treated like someone who violated a restraining order. The hiring manager doesn’t want to speak with you because they haven’t filled their end of the deal or they don’t have the guts to be candid with you. Often, whomever is hiring is treating it like a side task that is much more of an annoyance than an opportunity to improve their team.
I would like to think that I was more respectful when I was hiring than some of the stories I’ve been hearing lately, but I can’t say. I know I definitely didn’t have the level of self awareness I believe I do now. In numerous occasions, a candidate would go out of their way to make sure that I noticed their application. Some sent a personal e-mail to me, some called or left a message, others had their current manager or a different referral call me to make sure I identified the candidate. Others just showed up asking to have a minute of my time. In every one of these occasions, I moved that candidate’s application to the top of the stack. They were going out of their way to be noticed, showing initiative, and showing a real desire to join our team. In most cases I hired that person. Sometimes it wasn’t the best choice and I had to part ways with that person but so be it.
When advising job seekers who are in an ocean of applicants of varied experience, I advise them to “identify a position and go get it!” I hate the thought of having your life and your career in the hands of an admin who may or may not identify you as a top candidate based on your application. Bad enough that there is a wall created by a web site to analyze us before submitting our information. I much prefer to make sure that the company knows who I am, what I am capable of and that I really am the best fit and a score for the organization.
My advice backfired for one job seeker as he was familiar with the company he was applying, knew he was a great fit for the position being offered, and willing to accept the low compensation due to his lack of experience. After submitting an application on LinkedIn, he felt as if his resume wasn’t being looked at. He realized that he wasn’t given an opportunity to submit a cover letter on the LinkedIn application so he spent the morning writing a cover letter and printing it, and his resume, on nice paper. He decided he would drop it off at their office in the next town over and that by doing so, would increase the chance of his resume being read. He bought a new shirt and went for a hair cut so he would look sharp in case he had the chance to meet with someone. He battled the nervousness and fear of rejection to muster up the confidence to go to the company’s office to deliver his documents.
When he arrived to drop off his documents, he was treated like an intruder. How dare he show up at this office with a resume and cover letter to drop off? They are only accepting resumes via LinkedIn and if they want to speak with you, they will call you. Not sure when, can’t say if they’ve read the application, but get the hell out of here. They treated him like he was a complete piece of shit. All they had to say was, “Thanks, we’ll pass your document to the person hiring.”
What they did not realize was that the best candidate, with the most energy, had just spent his entire day figuring out how he could best serve their team and overcame the fear of rejection to walk into the office and offer his letter to them. Not only did they let him get away, they chased him away and damaged his ego. The benefit for him is that he was able to witness the work environment for what it is and avoid the disappointment of working in a negative work environment.
I know that there are lots of companies who practice hiring procedures that are respectful of the applicants. Certainly the innovation of online job boards and recruiting services has benefited both the hiring companies and the applicants however the features are driven by the recruiting companies who pay for the service. Although it has been very many years since I’ve been in the job market, it almost seems as if the latest in job search is simply an automated version of the process I followed twenty years ago, which was buy the Sunday NY Times, highlight jobs you were interested in, send or fax a cover letter and resume and wait.
With so many businesses being small businesses, it is likely that beyond LinkedIn or ZipRecruiter, there is no further human resources department to properly manage the hiring process. This leaves hiring in the hands of people who already have a full day of work and drives them to completely miss when it comes to identifying how much of the applicant’s livelihood they hold in their control.
What is your company’s hiring process? Do you use LinkedIn or another service to find applicants? Are applicants communicated with in a timely manner? If an applicant goes out of their way to show their skills or commitment, is it commended or frowned upon? Am I missing some of the features of online job boards that greatly benefit the applicants? Is my advice to identify a job and go get it poor advice?
If you are a job seeker, are you being communicated with on application status effectively? What would you like to see improved? Are the interviews you show up for being conducted by people who are engaged and eager to improve their team or just going through the motions?
Please comment with your feedback.
If you are you a hiring manager or someone hiring for your company who would like to discuss this on my podcast, please send me a message here or on Linked.