You’ve probably already heard (because I am a shameless birthday self-promoter) that I recently turned 39. THIRTY-NINE. I remember when that was old. Birthday celebrations at 39 are a bit different. No more hoping for the latest toy or new clothes, wondering who’s going to show up to my party. Now all I really want is some good wine and someone else to make dinner. I did something else June 6, and while it wasn’t necessarily a “gift”, I hope that it gave something valuable to others.
I sat on an Employer Panel.
Doesn’t sound like a big deal, right? But to the 70 unemployed participants, it was. At another stage in my career I worked for the state employment office, known as WorkSource. I saw firsthand the cringe-worthy advice dispensed to job seekers and recognized from a new angle the awful disconnect between candidates and employers. Coming back to recruiting after my stint in government, this time as a corporate recruiter, I started hearing a lot about the candidate experience. All kinds of experts and thought leaders making noise about our ATSs, spammarific emails and inmails, and lack of follow through. While there are many ways for the process to fall apart, one of the major issues is simply this – employers and candidates are not talking to each other. They don’t know what we want and we’re not always at good at telling them.
I realize this may be more of a corporate recruiting issue, but stay with me TPRs. We as recruiters have our fingers on the pulse of what’s happening in our company, or client companies. We know how the ATS works (no, there are not gremlins in the machine keeping resumes out of my inbox). We know our hiring manager quirks. We know what resume formats work for which clients. We also know, contrary to popular belief, that recruiters and hiring managers are REAL PEOPLE who respond to certain stimuli. Why are we not telling job seekers?
That was the point of this panel. They are hosted at area WorkSource offices (my previous employer). I attend these probably once a quarter or so, and I’m always amazed at the response. Job seekers are genuinely grateful that someone took the time to answer their questions and offer some insight into the recruiting process. The absolute highlight of the day came at the very end once most of the job seekers left. The facilitator came up to me and said “you just changed the perception these people had of Microsoft.” What a lovely side effect. All I was trying to accomplish was to shed a little light on what happens once you hit “submit” on an application. I tried to give some direction on the best way to get noticed. I shared my opinion on LinkedIn profiles and networking efforts. In doing so, I humanized my employer.
Maybe you don’t care about your employment brand. Worse, maybe you think your employment brand is improved by your sassy tweets or automated referral systems (yeah I went there!). You might have the coolest, flashiest careers page out there with the best looking stock photography models masquerading as developers, receptionists, and accountants for your company. Hey, my company has a slick careers page and I think we do social media pretty well. As for me? I’ll keep hitting the street and talking to people where they are. In case you’re wondering, I found four candidates at this event that I will be screening for some of my open positions – candidates who didn’t apply previously because they feared the “black hole”. Now I not only have these new candidates in my pipeline, but all the other folks I met (and their networks) who are possibly qualified for other areas of Microsoft AND who will be telling their friends about the real live human recruiter they met from a big, seemingly unapproachable company. I heard from the facilitator that my local talent competitors can’t be bothered with these types of events.