Employers, you’re doing it wrong.
And although I’m writing today’s column to and about you, I hope every job seeker in the universe reads it and acts on it accordingly. So get ready; I do not intend to sugarcoat this.
Recently, a client of mine, Bill – who has a most impressive background – applied on line to a top-tier company, the name of which everyone knows. Why on line, a method I despise and advise against? Because that’s how the company insists you do it, that’s why.
This amounts to two parties making an egregious error: you for conducting your recruiting practice that way, and the candidate for falling for it. (I know, I know; you tell them to do it, so they feel they must. Trapped with no alternative.) I don’t know how many more times in my life I’ll have to say this, but here we go again. Stop it! Both of you.
Now, instead of me just suggesting what to do or not to do – and taking the chance that you will either believe me or blow me off, mostly on abstract terms – let me give you a real life current example that perfectly exemplifies what I’m saying.
Shortly after Bill submitted his on-line application (resume included, which I wrote for him), he received an automated response which, as anyone would recognize, involved not one ounce of human interaction. It was a stone-cold computer rejection, saying in part:
“Dear [William], [Name of Company] has considered you for the position of [Blah-blah Manager], based on reviewing your resume. While we are interested in your background, we will not be considering you further for this position at this time.”
This was followed by some mumbo-jumbo that included disclaimers, smooth talk, and other associated insincerities, and then the expected (paraphrased): “[Company] will keep your resume in our database and we will contact you in the future regarding positions that may fit your background.” And if that veneer wasn’t enough, it was followed by the “We encourage you to visit our career website to learn more about…”
You know the rest. It was signed “Sincerely, [Company Name Recruiting]”
Now here comes the kicker. Bill then called someone he knows within the company who is close enough to the position Bill had applied for (and high enough) to perhaps play the role of influencer. That he was, immediately asking Bill for his resume. Now watch what happened and how fast it did.
Two hours and 15 short minutes later, Bill received an email from the top dog in the division, to whom Bill would report if he got the job.
“Hi Bill, I hope all is well. My name is [Her name]. I run the global team of [blah-blah and so-and-so], have just moved up to the [top dog] position, and need to fill the position I am vacating. [John Smith] forwarded your resume and I think your experience is a close match with what I am looking for. Would you be interested in discussing this with me?” Her email ended as cordially as it began, full of openness and objectivity.
As I write this, the story is still in progress, but there’s no need to wait for the outcome. What I’m trying to illustrate couldn’t be any more apparent. Same candidate, same day (in fact, same two-hour span), but two different scenarios. The computer program, for which the company probably paid millions, after countless meetings with the vendor, internal partners, and God-knows-who-else, “rejected” Bill. The global team leader, using her head, saw Bill entirely the other way. I could use three more columns to analyze all the aspects of this, but who needs that? This fallacy is as plain as the nose on your face.
The computer – using algorithms, matrices, loops, key word searches, and every conceivable “advancement” known to HRIS – reached a conclusion. Not a decision, a conclusion. The team leader, on the other hand – using some good sense, experience, perspective, instinct (I’m almost certain), and good judgment – reached a decision, not a
conclusion. Decisions are acted upon; conclusions, where they don’t belong, end things.
And that brings us full circle to my opening remark: “Employers, you’re doing it wrong.”
But the more you invested in that damn program, the more you’re going to defend yourselves, to which I offer the following rhetorical question.
How much money – in terms of multiple billions of dollars – have employers like you lost on making bad hires? The question is unanswerable, especially as these bad hires hang on in your company until they’re let go for poor performance, and any answer you’d try to give would be Sophistic, at best (BS, in other words.) Further, how much productivity and growth would you have realized had you made better hires? Another rhetorical question, but if we could ever calculate the answers to the two questions, they would make us both dizzy – and you uncomfortable.
So that’s my last word to you, dear employer, by which I do not expect to win your undying friendship.
Now, my entreaty to the candidates. Don’t stop in the face of what seems to be an immovable object. Be like Bill, the irresistible force.
And don’t buy the fallacy. Do this on your terms.
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