Skip to comments.A Job Hunter's Top Pet Peeves About Today's Hiring Policies
Posted on 07/20/2004 9:28:43 AM PDT by Mini-14
JULY 19, 2004
What employers may forget is that nameless, faceless applicants also buy their products and their services. One day they even may be in positions at other companies where they have to decide whether to buy those employers' products or services. Job seekers are a growing constituency, and while it's easy to cast them away now, employers should be cautious in how they do so. Obviously, rejecting applicants is expected, but candidates who felt humiliated or tortured in the process will remember the experience.
After a demeaning experience applying for work at a New York state college, I decided to never enroll my kids there. Not only were the title and description of the job vague, but it had also apparently been posted on the school's Web site indefinitely. And the representative with the college's human resources department was so inept, I couldn't get a straight answer on whether the position was open. Follow-up calls and e-mails to the hiring manager went unanswered. I consider the HR department -- and the hiring manager -- a reflection of the institution and decided I didn't want anything to do with it. Based on my conversations with other job seekers, my experience was not unique.
Here's a list of my pet peeves about today's hiring practices. Hopefully, HR managers and employers reading this know to treat job seekers with respect. But the following steps should benefit those who don't -- and their companies -- as much as job seekers.
1. "Only applicants selected for an interview will be contacted."
The time is long past when employers have to print and mail 200 copies of rejection letters. When you fill a position, send a brief e-mail notice to each applicant. Let them cross the potential opening off their lists instead of waiting for a call that won't come. These notifications also will free your staff from answering inquiries.
2. The "stealth" job.
For some job hunters, classified ads for "stealth" jobs are particularly hated. These ads usually include a brief and murky job description, no company name, and possibly a fax number for resume submissions. This causes problems on several fronts. If the job description is vague -- for instance, if it doesn't specify if the opening is entry-level or professional -- employers have to sift through twice as many resumes as they would if a particular category had been specified. And when no company name is provided, you appear to be building a marketing database, not soliciting candidates. Write ads that make sense for jobs that actually exist.
3. "No phone calls accepted."
These words often appear in job postings. They really mean, "We don't want you to call us. As a job seeker, you aren't important enough for us to talk to. Send your resume like everyone else, and we'll call you if we feel like it."
Please recognize this is only one of the many disadvantages heaped upon job seekers. Isn't it obvious that someone who takes the initiative to call is worth interviewing? If you don't want every Tom, Dick and Harry calling, don't provide a phone number in the ad. But don't say, "No phone calls." Give the job seekers who genuinely want to work for you the ability to call your office and chat with someone who knows about the position.
4. "Site last updated May 2003."
Let's be clear on something that seems so basic it shouldn't be mentioned: Company recruitment pages should be current.
Too often the notice appears: "Site last updated May 2003." When you fill a position, take the job posting down from your site and any other sites where it's published. It wastes job seekers' time to apply for positions that don't exist, and processing useless applications is a waste your staff's time. It also makes your company appear disorganized, thus generating a ton of ill will among candidates.
5. "Click Apply Now!"
Job seekers understand that the odds are stacked against them, and they know they must apply for as many positions in the shortest amount of time possible. But complicated online applications that require entering the same information repeatedly are frustrating and time-consuming. Then, after all this aggravation, candidates might receive only a "thank you for your application" message -- and perhaps junk e-mail from spammers that secured their contact information.
Don't ask applicants to retype their resumes line for line in online applications. Keep these forms simple and to one page in length. Then allow applicants to attach their resumes and cover letters as PDF or Word files.
6. "I'm sorry, you don't have an appointment."
Employers don't realize how the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, affected job seekers. Buildings -- especially in large metropolitan areas -- maintain tight security, and the days of "pounding the pavement" are all but gone. It's practically impossible to show up unannounced and meet with someone. Some employers don't have a procedure for security guards to follow if a job seeker does arrive unannounced. Security or no, when job seekers visit your reception desk, they don't deserve to be treated as if they're handing out business cards at a funeral.
Provide security guards and receptionists with steps to follow if candidates do show up. Even if you can't let them into the building (or send someone to talk with them), at least request copies of their resumes. Why make it unpleasant for candidates who demonstrate initiative? One job seeker told me he felt humiliated when a security guard at one company gave him a slip of paper listing the employer's recruitment Web site address. Any company that can afford a security guard can do better than that.
Here's the bottom line: Treat job seekers with respect and dignity, or be prepared to see a difference in the bottom line. At minimum, consider how you'd like to be treated if you were unemployed, and make sure your company meets those standards. After all, you might be on the other side of the counter someday.
Norris is a freelance writer and adviser specializing in recruitment and career issues. He's based in Stamford, Conn.
Doesn't necessarily mean that the job (or other) data on the site is that old. Many sites work from a database that is constantly updated, but the basic code for the site itself is not changed very often.
I don't hear too many companies bemoaning the fact that they can't find good help. Therefore, I think it is overstated to say that Employers are doing a lousy job at hiring. It is more accurate to say that Employers are getting what they require.
I think what this whiner is really saying is: "I wanted a high-paying job as a web-designer, but no one would hire me. So now I write articles for Computerworld telling everyone how foolish companies are in their hiring practices."
My daughter's boyfriend was told after a phone interview to have his paperwork in by Saturday (on a Monday I believe). He had to work two 12 hour shifts on Tuesday and Wednsday, but sent the stuff in via email, as requested, on Thursday. On Friday the job was filled, and he was told that "we thought you weren't interested when we didn't get your paperwork". As it turns out the lady didn't read her email!.
But the good news is that he did find another job with a small IT company, which he loves.
"Norris is a freelance writer and adviser specializing in recruitment and career issues. He's based in Stamford, Conn."
This is simply the worst article I've ever read concerning finding a job, hiring practices, and life in general I have ever read.
What a loser.
The major objective is to avoid hiring any one over or approaching age 50, from the federal government on down, NO OLD TIMERS NEED APPLY!! Sure, Walmart hires a few, but jobs where you'd use a life time of skills, no way!
All the structure Norris describes is to make the HR folks lives easier by ensuring that no geezers can get past. If the don't exclude older applicants by these mechanisms, they'll have no other means of doing so.
This is only because you have allowed carreer mean that much to you. You are the one who promoted your job to god status.
My number one complaint - HR person contacts you and sets up an interview. You get there and the person you actually have to work for wants to know if you know this, done that, etc. Basically wants to know if you have done stuff that is not on your resume. A waste of everyone's time. HR people - IMO - are extremely ignorant bordering on stupidity people.
Ya know, about the time Detroit started making cars, the horse carriage business went south. The author needs to quit whinning. Job hunting has never been easy. Twenty-five years ago I was told I was a woman so couldn't be a mail carrier, never mind I had the highest test score. Along about that same time I was hired at a state park but two hours after I filled out all the paperwork I got a call from a very upset supervisor who said he'd been hauled over the coals because I was white and where was his token black employee. That job stayed open for several years and was finally pulled because there had never been a black applicant. Job hunting stinks, always has, always will so shut up and get over it.
While there are many, many things I've hated about job search, this article is written by someone who has obviously never done any hiring. Many of the so-called abuses he speaks of, one being the no-call, are necessary. If the company is looking to add staff, they are too busy to answer the telephone.
Companies either have the mindset that it is easier and less costly to go through 2 or 3 employees, firing one or two that do not work out, than it is to conduct a thorough and professional job search. I think to a certain extent, that is true.
The bottom line is is YOU don't get the job, there is something wrong with the process or the company. If YOU do get the job, everything is OK. We need more perspective here that the writer of this article doesn't offer.
The worst part was that when I carefully considered what the headhunter had to offer and gave them permission to submit my resume for the position, I made it painfully clear that no matter what the response was, I wanted to hear back from him/her so I can digest any critique that may have been offered by the hiring manager. I can say that to a person, each headhunter assured me that they would call me back no matter what the response was. And to a person, not one headhunter ever took the time to call me back. It was up to me to track them down, leave messages, etc. before I could get them to tell me that the company "filled the position".
Also, I worked for a smaller company for a few years and was privy to the hiring process. They were looking for programmers last fall and put a listing on Monster.com. That was around 9am. By the end of the day they had over 300 resumes. After two days they had about 450. Obviously, one or two people can not read every resume so they took the top 50 resumes to review and tossed the rest.
What stopped your wife's colleague from asking the question? Nothing. The colleague needs to be better prepared by asking the questions that matter. Especially if it's not specifically stated on the job posting.
BTW, I'm an HR recruiter for a 6500 person organization.
"MUST SPEAK SPANISH"
I went to a job interview and when the interviewer saw my salary requirements on the application, he said the guy who set up the interview should have told me what the job was paying. D'oh. I drove 100 miles RT and spent an hour filling out application. Needless to say, there was no interview.
So which gender's bathroom did you use up until then?
Depends on the headhunter. Top-notch search firms, working with high-level positions, will typically never present someone who won't be interviewed. That's why they're retained: to do all the screening and to only advance fully-qualified candidates.
You should ask a headhunter if they're on retainer or if they're working on a contingency basis.
Retained firms are more reputable and have exclusive positions.
Contingency firms are simply trying to corral as many resumes they can, and shove them in front of the hiring manager.
Yeah, it's really, really tough. I was told my contract would be up at the end of July on the 6th of this month, and had a full-time job offer by the 12th. Prior to that, I had five companies pursuing me.
When you fill a position, send a brief e-mail notice to each applicant. Let them cross the potential opening off their lists instead of waiting for a call that won't come.
If they don't contact me, I can figure out that they ain't interested. No big deal.
For some job hunters, classified ads for "stealth" jobs are particularly hated. These ads usually include a brief and murky job description, no company name, and possibly a fax number for resume submissions.
Who in the heck faxes a resume any more? This guy is so, like, nineties.
"No phone calls accepted." These words often appear in job postings. They really mean, "We don't want you to call us.
Yeah, when you post a job and are bombarded with resumes from unqualified and marginally qualified people, it would make LOTS of sense to put your phone number in the ad so you can REALLY waste lots of time.
Let's be clear on something that seems so basic it shouldn't be mentioned: Company recruitment pages should be current.
Try reading the ad.
Don't ask applicants to retype their resumes line for line in online applications.
Hasn't this guy ever heard of cut-and-paste? Dang, between his inability to simplify tasks and his "I need a hug" attitude, I can see why no one wants to hire him.
In other words, he's a journalism major with few marketable skills.
Damn - you beat me to it.
LOL. You write the following sentence and claim the HR guy is stupid.
"HR people - IMO - are extremely ignorant bordering on stupidity people."
We love to receive cover letters with sentences such as that quoted above. It brings levity to our otherwise dull and drab days. Usually those sentences follow a statement on how excellent their communication skills are.
Sounds like your issue is with the hiring manager, who has not bothered to prepare for the interview by looking at your resume. Could also be the HR person not asking the hiring manager to go a bit beyond the job description and get at the skill set actually required by the job.
I don't know (obviously) what kind of experience you have, but I'll wager that everything you know, or have done, is NOT clearly stated on your resume.
Were I you, if you are job searching, go to the library and check out some books on interviewing from the interviewer's perspective. You'd learn a ton.
I was out of work for eight months as well in 2002. Instead of bitching about the process of finding a job via websites, I figured out what I had to do to make myself more marketable. And once I found a job I improved my skills, figured out how to position myself and my resume, and now I can find a new position within a week. This economy doesn't suffer fools, especially one like this writer who hasn't even figured out that he can cut-and-paste his resume from Word into the application web form.
Only people interviewed fill out employments apps where I am. In our case, as a government contractor of health care, we are subject to EEO regs and Affirmative action plans. The apps are part of the legal record, and as such, must be filled out. It is when we solicit the race and gender info that is part of our reporting requirements.
All I ever see is bitchin about people who sponge off the govt on this site. Then we get a guy who writes about the problems job-seekers face, and we get more bitchin about that. Try being out of work awhile, and all your political ideals go to $hit, because in the end you realize right or left those a$$holes don't care about you.
I have been out of work. I formed my own company. Problem solved, permanently.
You are 100% correct, however, concerning Human Resource Managers. This peculiar "profession" is made up of those that wear the right clothes, have the right degrees, say the right things in meetings.....but under perform in all areas related to sales, management, leadership, marketing, etc etc etc.
Because they wear the right cloths, have the right degree and say the right things, they don't get fired or downsized. They get DUMPED into Human Resources.
Its been my experience you show me a HR manager, I'll show you somebody incapable of producing anything of value to their respective employer.
In the Military, when you run across an Officer of this caliber, they end up running the Supply Depot......
Finally, there are very few things kids will never say they want to be when they grow up. Human Resource Manager is at the top of that particular list. Dumb as rocks, almost all of them.
Here is what I learned on my first job-seeking expedition 40 years ago:
Blind ads or vague ads are a scam. Do not apply for those jobs.
Be specific on your resume concerning the job you want. Do not spin your wheels interviewing for jobs that are outside your field of interest.
There is nothing good that happens when you interview with a gatekeeper. If your prospective immediate supervisor is not involved all the interviewer is doing is filling up his own time so that he appears to his boss to be busy.
Spend your time researching the company you want to work for and find out who your boss will be. It would be a good idea if you could find out what problem it is that he is trying to solve by hiring you. This is a lot more important than finding out what the company's closing stock price is.
If you can't get this information before your interview, attach a "Kick me" sign to your forehead.
I've seen good ones and bad ones. And any company that allows an HR manager to simply perform a word search on a submitted resume without reading the context of those words isn't a company I want to work for anyway.
Doesn't this guy realize that the majority of job openings in a company are NEVER ADVERTISED! Only the positions that cannot be filled via internal processes are put in newspapers. These adds usually decribe a skillset that no human could have and if they did, they are already working for someone else.
Having been in the job hunt with a job, witnessing a hiring as well as attempting a promotion (successfully by the way), I can see both sides of the issues.
We had an applicant who was not interview worthy bombarding the office with phone calls. Some of the questions were down right silly (Will I actually be reporting to the title that is listed in my title?) to wanting to know how come she wasn't getting a call for an interview. Luckily we only had one doing this.
I think it would be great if rather than taking down filled jobs, they just put "position filled" and the date after the title for just one week. Since I monitored the same websites religiously, I would catch the interested positions and an email wouldn't be necessary.
It doesn't sound like this guy does the amount of networking needed. I rarely apply for a job cold. I find some one in the company or the industry (or a spouse that knows the dirt) that can give me a better take on the position. It's cost me a lot of coffee, but in the long run was worth it.
Worst thing that happened to me... a larger organization put my application in a secretary/exec. assistant pool without me knowing it (I applied for one position). As the units chose not to interview me, I was sent a letter of rejection for each one. I finally called the H.R. department after the fifth one and they explained to me what happened. I requested that I be removed from the pool and still got one more letter after that. Sometimes not hearing anything is better than getting the same form letter too many times.
You are 100% correct, however, concerning Human Resource Managers.
"I've seen good ones and bad ones. And any company that allows an HR manager to simply perform a word search on a submitted resume without reading the context of those words isn't a company I want to work for anyway."
You want to see Dumb On Parade, attend the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM) annual convention.
It rivals the Democrats coming "attraction" of next week in the number of brain dead attendees. I've gone to every one of their conventions over the last decade til this year.
Its simply the overall dumbest single "professional group" I've ever run across. I swear, its amazing they can dress themselves.
The funniest is when HR people grab some technical certifications and apply them to every IT job they post. My favorite is seeing a posting for a "Business/Data Analyst" and the first requirement is that they are a Cisco-certified MCSE.
These folks shouldn't apply the terms if they don't know what they mean! Have someone in your own IT dept. explain it all to you.
Not really. Actually, I just like to pay the rent and keep the wolf away from the door. I hate the whole notion of 'career' and I am NOT one of those whose vocation is their IDENTITY.
While I agree that a good deal of this author's points make him sound like a whiner, I will interject my last two years of experience.
I am currently employed as an independent contractor and as such have been looking for a real full time job for the two years since I got laid off. I have applied for no less than 200 jobs, all of which I was qualified to hold.
Of those 200 applications I have recieved perhaps 30 responses, and 2 interviews. One of the interviews required that I take a day off of work (lost pay), and drive 150 miles each way for a 30 minute interview. I did everything right, dressed correctly, provided a printed copy of my resume, sent a letter to the interviewer thanking him for his time, etc. Three months later I got a thanks but no thanks letter.
Now this might seem trivial to some, but the fact is that a good deal of professional courtesy has been thrown out the window. Say what you want, but taking three months to send a thanks but no thanks letter to one of three people interviewed for a postion is rude. Sending no response at all to an online application is just as rude, even if it's a cookie cutter rubber stamp form letter. I took the time to apply, you can take the time to tell me I didn't get the job.
Then there is the HR hellbot. This little gem is used to scan through resumes looking for keywords and ranks applicants accordingly. Sounds like a real timesaver to me, except there is a flaw. Say you are looking for a "Technical Sales Engineer" and the hellbot is looking for that as a key word. All well and good except my past employer called the same position "Systems Engineer". All the education and experience to do the job is there, but because a hellbot is looking through the resumes not a real live body it's the bottom of the stack for me. I could modify my resume to say what I think they are looking for, but then should they call my past employer to verify my employment history it's not going to jive with my resume. That in turn makes my resume look suspect.
Last but not least my biggest pet peeve is the opening that's posted, but already filled. If you have an internal candidate who is a shoe in for an opening then me taking the time to apply is a royal waste of time. I know there are legal reasons for doing this, but that doesn't change the fact that it's royal waste of time.
The bottom line is that looking for a job is nothing like it used to be. Not for me anyway.
I, too, have been on both sides of the aisle here. While I was never an HR person, in my small office, we had to hire 3 graphic designers for our software company. We advertised in the newspaper (BIG mistake) and got all kinds of resumes, including one typed on notebook paper. We ended up going through the piles of paper and interviewing 24 possible candidates. From that list, we found 1 we felt could walk and chew gum at the same time, thus we could train them to do what we wanted. Luckily, this guy knew some friends also looking, and we heard about another guy who worked for my boss' friend and had just been downsized. We filled the positions through word-of-mouth and they stayed on with the company until May of 2001, where I found myself on the OTHER side of this issue when my company folded.
I searched newspapers, went to headhunters, cold-called and even mailed resume's to companies I might like to work for. I managed a few interviews and had one real good prospect that I interviewed with a couple of times. Until September 11, that is. After that, everything changed. The economy tanked and companies were not about to just let some Joe Schmo walk in and get a sit-down with someone. I was lucky in that about 10 months after my company folded, which saw me deplete our savings and take any odd job I could get, I sent a resume to an architectural firm out of the blue. They happened to need someone on a contract basis to do drafting and help with the computer needs. Since I had an architectural background and was looking into getting my Microsoft certification, they hired me. I have been here just over 2 years now, have started my MCSE process and I start working here full time next week. It has not been fun at all and this isn't exactly what I want to do, but it is paying the bills and is a good company to work for. I loathe the idea of searching for a job again, so I may just sit put for now or take off on my own, which is a real possibility. I am no spring chicken and I know it will be harder for me to get a job, even with my experience and certification that some kid out of college. I also know a lot more now than I did 3 years ago when I HAD to look for a job.
This guy sounds like he hasn't really HAD to look for a job. Sounds like he got downsized and pounded the pavement for a few weeks at most and now is writing to complain about his "ordeal". Well, I had all of these things happen (though I NEVER answered blind ads) and more, but I viewed it as part of the process. No big deal, just the rules of the game.
All that said, I am a firm believer that God has plans for us all. For me, I think He wanted me to focus more on him, as my life revolved around work up until May 2001. It worked. My perspective has now changed dramatically. I no longer have to have nice clothes or a lot of "toys" these days. I am closer to God now than I ever have been. I am also closer to my wife and boys as well.
Which is about equivalent to a warm bucket of spit. A 14-week course in packet switching does not make one a computer scientist, it makes one a button pusher on a graphic user interface. Thank God I left IT and am now in the most fulfilling position I can possibly imagine.
I appreciate you sharing that story with me. Thanks. At worst, you got closer to your family, I know that running a company can take up every waking moment. Start ups, and sadly "Shut Downs" really take a toll on the family life.
What a crock of Kerry.
As someone who works in HR, which exactly of my underachievements would you surmise led me there, hmmm? My Bachelor's Degree, Master's Degree, Dean's Listing, Honor Society membership, top laboratory evaluations, increasing of worldwide product distributors by 35%, sublicense negotiating...which one, exactly?
You remind me sooo much of the brain-dead applicants we get on a daily basis. We advertise for a microbiology manager, and we get an applicant who decided he was qualified because he played pro baseball in Spain. We need a chemistry supervisor, and we get the fellow who worked in the Budweiser bottling plant for 6 years. We want a chemist, and we get the hairdresser who's never received a college degree but is "sure she could handle it."
If you want to know why not every applicant who sends in a resume gets a response, that's because it would take too long to write "Thank you for applying, but your IQ is apparently somewhere south of that belonging to a newborn retarded emu." Or, "Thank you for applying, but based on the fact that your experience in no way matches the stated requirements for the position, I am forced to conclude that you cannot read English, and that this letter was ghostwritten by a relative."
I see it daily. The type who have been, as Jerry Clower said, "educated far beyond their intelligence level." "Don't you know who I am? I have a right to a job with your organization and who are you to tell me I can't have one??"
Anyone who doesn't get a job they want, and really aren't at all qualified for, blames HR. And if you don't see the inherent comedy in the following posts of yours, well, that says so much more:
You want to see Dumb On Parade, attend the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM) annual convention...I've gone to every one of their conventions over the last decade til this year.
A better illustration does not exist.
In IT, fax is so, like, eighties. Hee Hee.
I'm curious. Full-time parent?
Because it would reduce the chances of the applicant's being hired.
1) Because the unwritten rule is unless otherwise stated, everyone assumes jobs are full-time with the ususal company benefits. For an applicant to ask about this in the begining of an interview process would seem out of place, weird.
2) Any questions concerning hours worked may raise the spector in the mind of the employer that the applicant will be unwilling to work overtime during crunch periods.
3) Any questions concerning benefits until an offer has been made is a no-no: It is customary NOT to ask such questions; any applicant who does, will have broken a rule--the applicant at this stage should be talking about the benefit TO THE EMPLOYER of hiring him, the applicant.
That said, things may be different in your part of the country and/or among the particular kind(s) of professions you hire for, as I have found regional differences in the interview process.
And other factors would be whether the job is blue-collar or white-coller.
Good for you! You are rare in that. I recently took a 4 week unpaid leave of absence. Here I am with a wife and 7 kids at home and yet I'm debt free with a single income. I'm surrounded by other engineers and well educated people with combined incomes of 6 figures and yet they still live from paycheck to paycheck. If anyone around here says layoff they break out in hives. They are slaves to their carreers and to spending.
I remember job searching and jumping through flaming hoops to try to get mediocre jobs. I'd laugh in an interviewers face on the way out if put me through the things I went through 12 years ago. Not that I'm debt free I could quit my engineering job and get a job driving a beer truck and get by. I'd probably be happier too.
You expect an employment agent instead to spend all day to "track them down, leave messages, etc." for every one of the hundreds of applcants each week to tell each one they didn't get the job?
And you expect the agent to tell you WHY you didn't get the job?
LOL. Only if the agent is a masochist ("As soon as I hang up, I'm gonna call that company and give them a piece of my mind because you said that they said I'm too wimpy or too slow or not smart enough or whatever other insult. I'll show them!").
My experience is that too many agents don't even call applicants before sending their resume to job openings, let along call the applicants who afterward don't get the job.
I'm not saying it's right, but that's the real world.
Also, if you do your job hunting well and wisely, you'd have the agent eating out of your hand, such that you would be the exception who does get the call back and some kind of explanation from the agent. (Dale Carnegie would agree with me, I'm sure--though I'm afraid I haven't followed his advice in this posting. LOL.)
Exactly. A whiner and a victim. That said, at my age, it IS difficult to get hired. My resume opens a lot of doors, but the interview goes cold the minute they assess my age. My skill set is huge, I'm bilingual, I'm educated.
So heck. I started thinking of things I WANT to do, and how I can make it happen. Yeah, I hate my current job, but it affords me the means to get more schooling, start my own business, etc. No such thing as "career" jobs anymore, anyway. Life is tough and there are no Knights in Shining Armor waiting to avenge my misfortunes. Gotta get busy...
It seems to me with all the degrees and listings you would have made the time to take a course on human relations, which it would appear you neglected to do.
Based on your responses to this individuals post you seem to have absolutely no compassion for, or ability to relate to, people. In fact you appear to have complete contempt for people in general.
Just my opinion.