The good news: for at least a few people I’ve spoken with recently, the job market seems a bit warmer so far this year than it has been in quite a while. Let’s hope so!

The bad news: applying and interviewing for jobs is just as cumbersome as ever.

The ugly news: many employers must have missed the memo about candidates actually caring how they are treated.

I’m going to try to avoid throwing around a bunch of buzzwords, so what this really means is: just like common sense, COMMON COURTESY is far too uncommon.

There’s no need to glam up any recruiting process with shiny, flashy or trendy new tech tools or gizmos, if the core responsibility to create a decent experience for those you wish to attract is not also a priority.

Here are a few areas where there continues to be a blatant double standard between employer (HR, recruiter, hiring manager) behavior and what is expected of applicants and candidates.

Exhibit A: Written materials – you slap together any ole collection of words, add obligatory headings such as DUTIES, RESPONSIBILITIES and REQUIREMENTS and BAM! you’ve got yourself a job posting primed for any Internet spot willing to accept your $395 payment. No need to bother making any of the above coherent, concise, clear or compelling. That’s much too much to take on.

Then again, how likely are you to give two seconds attention to an applicant who submits a sloppy set of application materials? Not a chance, right? They go right into the HECK NO pile as quickly as you can click the mouse. Not that that isn’t justified, but neither is careless, confusing or contradictory copy on a career opportunity ad. Clean up your act and you might just collect a few more pieces of correspondence for the HECK YEAH pile.

Exhibit B: Schedule – you’re busy and proud of it. When you book interview times, you get there when you get there and expect the candidate to “get” how booked and in demand your time really is. If they want the job enough, what’s a little delay now and then?

Here’s the thing… Your time is valuable. Your time is limited. And, guess what else! The candidate who suited up, polished up and printed out resume copies, took time off or time away from whatever else they would normally be doing to commute whatever distance to meet you, feels the same about their schedule. Your nonchalant attitude about 10, 15, 20 minutes waiting in the lobby is just part of the deal to you. But to that candidate, you might as well have them put on flimsy gown, hop on an exam table and wonder anxiously what type of mysterious equipment will be used to probe and prod all around their partially covered private business. It really shouldn’t be that complicated to be as professionally prompt as you expect the candidate to be.

Exhibit C: Preparation – you scroll through at least a bazillion resumes every five minutes. Most of them suck. A few probably qualify as bird cage liners. And, for those resumes that do manage to squeak by and end up in the other stack, you barely manage a six second scan. By the time the interview rolls around you probably remember as much about it as you recall what you ate for dinner on the second Tuesday in August. Who has time to read and get familiarized with all that data, you think? It’ll all come out in the interview anyway.

Yep. That’s exactly what happens. Mr. or Ms. Candidate is eagerly awaiting the chance to fill you in on all of ideas he/she has to add value to your business. Meanwhile, you are distracted reviewing and asking rudimentary questions about what relevant experience they have, when they obtained it, how much of it they have and how well they use it. Patiently catching you up to speed on what that document in your hand says is how the candidate spends the first half of the meeting. Next, you rattle off your scripted behavioral questions that tell you about as much as you would have gotten by asking that person’s 8 year old child to explain what mommy or daddy does for a living.

Now let’s put that into the context of the candidate coming in THAT prepared. So, Mr. or Ms. Interviewer can you walk me through your website? I thought I saw something on one of those pages about a product you make or a service you provide. What’s that all about? Oh, yeah. Neat. So who exactly are your customers? Ah yes. So your biggest competitor must be so and so firm then? Is that correct? Alright. Very interesting. So before we wrap this up do you have any questions for me?

Can you imagine how appalled you would be if a candidate failed to research the role they were interested in, what your organization does, where your company fits within the industry and any other competitive business elements? Talk about a terrible first impression. Yet it’s not any more dazzling when you serve up the equivalent either.

Are you exhibiting any of these bumbling behaviors? If you hold applicants and candidates accountable to a higher standard than you hold yourself or your team to, consider investing zero cents, but adding a hearty helping of common sense or common courtesy to your process. 

Views: 608

Comment by Matt Charney on February 6, 2014 at 10:15am

Awesome post as always. Here's the real double standard I think recruiters should care about here: unless somehow you've gamed the system and aren't an "at will" employee, every recruiter is pretty much a phone call or bad business decision away from having to be on the other side of that desk. And karma's a bitch - if you don't take the time now, when you're looking again (and in this business, that's an inevitability) then you should have no expectation for anything else. #NailedIt

Comment by Tim Spagnola on February 6, 2014 at 11:22am
Great post Kelly. Matt - your comment is spot on. Think recruiters (certainly bad ones) are very close to being on other side of this conversation. You would think it would serve as motivation for some, but nonetheless there are recruiters out there that manage their desk by throwing s*%t on the wall praying something sticks.
Comment by Keith D. Halperin on February 6, 2014 at 12:04pm

Thanks, Kelly.

As a Contract Recruiter, I am very frequently on the other side of the desk.

IMHO, until (and I hope "until" and not "if") we get back into a seller's job market, the following is probable:

1) If you are a job hunter and aren't part of the "Fabulous 5%" that every recruiter drools over or have some in-demand skill, you'll be ******* ****  by the time you land a job.

2) If you are a job hunter and ARE part of the "Fabulous 5%" that every recruiter drools over or have some in-demand skill AND are applying to an Employer of Choice (EOC) but AREN'T politically connected to somebody influential in the organization, you'll be ******* ****  by the time you land a job.

A question for our Gentle Readers: can you name the last Staffing Head of a well-known organization who got  "called on the carpet" or fired for overseeing a hiring process where thousands of non-connected applicants got treated like  dog**** on your nice new shoes? Have there ever been ANY Staffing Heads who were?

No Cheers,

Keith "Tries Not  To **** **** Applicants" Halperin

Comment by Matt Charney on February 8, 2014 at 12:55am

Keith - just seeing your comment, but yes, I can think of at least two situations (one a major national fitness center chain, the other a major studio) who were both let go due to poor candidate experience. So, has happened. Here's hoping it continues.  Sad thing is, as bad as these 'leaders' treat candidates, they treat the recruiters working under them even worse.  Which probably doesn't help matters much.


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