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.
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.
You're right...I have no compassion...for people who apply for jobs that they are obviously in no way qualified for. And then get PO'd at not being considered.
You're looking for DU, where feelings rule over all. Go down the street and take a hard left.
Three months later I got a thanks but no thanks letter.
My favorite rejection letter I have received was a postcard with a photograph of a toilet on it with a caption that read, "We will keep your resume on file"
This was from the software company Novell. Unprofessional but funny. I had a good job a week later.
EMPLOYER SPEAK:what it says/what it means...
You'll make under $7 an hour.
ENTRY-LEVEL POSITION IN AN UP-AND-COMING COMPANY
You'll make under $7 an hour; we'll be bankrupt in a year.
AN UP-AND COMING SOFTWARE COMPANY
We want you to get your hopes up, but there's no chance we'll be the next Mircosoft.
Once the higher-ups share it, there won't be a profit.
We remain competitive by paying less than our competitors.
JOIN OUR FAST-PACED COMPANY
We have no time to train you; you'll have to introduce yourself to your co-workers.
NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED LEADER
Inc. Magazine wrote us up a few years ago, but we haven't done anything innovative since.
The person who used to have this job gave notice a month ago. We're just now running the ad.
SALES POSTITION REQUIRING MOTIVATED SELF-STARTER
We're not going to supply leads; there's no base salary; you'll wait 30 days for your first commission check.
Management won't answer questions.
WE OFFER GREAT BENEFITS
After 90 days, you can join our HMO, which has a $500 deductible and a $50 co-pay.
After three years, we'll allow you to fund your own 401(k). If you behave, we'll give a 3 percent matching contribution.
SEEKING ENTHUSIASTIC, FUN, HARD WORKING PEOPLE
... who still live with their parents and won't mind our internship-level salaries.
CASUAL WORK ATMOSPHERE
We don't pay enough for you to dress well; a couple of the real daring guys wear earrings.
We have a high staff turnover.
EXCITING AND PROFESSIONAL WORK ENVIRONMENT
Guys in gray suits will bore you with tales of squash and weekends on yachts.
JOIN OUR DYNAMIC TEAM
We all listen to nutty motivational tapes.
FUN WORK ENVIRONMENT
Your co-workers will be insulted if you don't drink with them.
A DRUG-FREE WORK ENVIRONMENT
We booze it up at company parties.
MUST BE DEADLINE ORIENTED
You'll be six months behind schedule on your first day.
SOME PUBLIC RELATIONS REQUIRED
If we're in trouble, you'll go on TV and get us out of it.
SOME OVERTIME REQUIRED
Some time each night and some time each weekend.
SALARY RANGE $24K-$32K
We'll offer you $22K to start.
A HIGHLY VISIBLE POSITION
You'll give boring speeches on your own time.
Work 40 hours; get paid for 25.
DUTIES WILL VARY
Anyone in the office can boss you around.
WHERE EMPLOYEES FEEL VALUED
Those who missed the last round of lay-offs, that is.
MUST HAVE AN EYE FOR DETAIL
We have no quality control.
COLLEGE DEGREE PREFERRED
Unless you wasted those four years studying something useless like Philosophy, English or Religion.
Applicants must be childless (and remain that way).
APPLY IN PERSON
If you're old or ugly, you'll be told the position has been filled.
NO PHONE CALLS PLEASE
We've filled the job; our call for resumés is a formality.
SEEKING CANDIDATES WITH A WIDE VARIETY OF EXPERIENCE
You'll need it to replace three people who just left.
PROBLEM-SOLVING SKILLS A MUST
You're walking into a company in perpetual chaos.
REQUIRES TEAM LEADERSHIP SKILLS
You'll have the responsibilities of a manager, without the pay or respect.
GOOD COMMUNICATION SKILLS
Management communicates; you listen, figure out what they want, and do it.
ABILITY TO HANDLE A HEAVY WORKLOAD
You whine, you're fired.
ASPIRATIONS FOR GROWTH WITHIN OUR COMPANY
We loooooove brown nosers.
didn't you know businesses exist not to make a profit, but
in order to assuage their guilt about making money.
it's not enough to pay taxes, you have to LIKE it.
And don't expect too much, after all, I went to gomint
I didn't say that now did I? When you have reached that point, you are one of 5 or 6 candidates the headhunter has culled from the hundreds of resumes. He/She took the time to track me down when they pulled my resume in the first place, you're dang right he/she should call me or drop me an e-mail to say they just heard back from the client and they went with somebody else. Currently, I am sub-contracting through an agency that is on retainer and is the exclusive search agency for the company. I knew upfront, who the company was, the salary and expected duration of contract (as well as the insider scuttlebutt regarding the direction and opportunities that lay ahead of me.) I knew the hiring manager's critique of my resume before I even talked to him and I was thoroughly made aware of virtually every aspect of the position before I arrived for the interview.
I know firsthand just how busy these headhunters are but if they refuse to follow up with the job searcher with whom they initiated the contact, they are worthless and I won't deal with them the next time they call. And believe me, the same ones call back constantly and I tell them thanks but no thanks each time.
My favorite headhunter call came to me in 1999 when I was working at a major NYC law firm. The call came out of the blue and it was the head of the company. He started by saying he had heard of me and I was very highly regarded...
I actually laughed out loud and said 'Whoa! Nobody in this business has ever said that about me, are you sure you got the right guy?'
He was really surprised at my reaction - no matter what, I wouldn't bite on any of his shallow flattery. I asked who his source was. He wouldn't say. I asked then how he knew he could trust them? It was a pretty funny conversation from a very amatuer outfit.
If you're an HR person than maybe you can answer this question for me. How come ya'll always decide to take your vacations right when I need to find a job? ;-)
Nope, pilot. Being a parent is not a position but a gift.
You say I 'need more education' while having no idea what level of education I've attained.
You say you have 'no compassion' for people applying for jobs they are not qualified for while apparently giving no consideration to the level of desperation that may have driven them to it.
You imply I am a liberal, which I am quite far from in fact, simply because I do have compassion for some people.
Do me a favor and let me know which company's HR department you work in so, in the event I'm ever looking for a job, I can avoid a company that would allow an obvious narcissist like yourself to hold such a position.
Aside from your reply as to which company you haunt I will consider this to be the end of this conversation.
LOL--and have you bombard me with resumes? Sorry, no. But I'm sure the Kerry campaign is looking for someone to empathize with everyone who can't get a job on demand from any company they wish 'cause of those mean old HR people.