Posts Tagged ‘interviewing’

The Reluctant Candidate

July 25, 2014

By now, my clients are sick of hearing me say that they should walk through their own company’s hiring process.   I believe it’s the only way to truly understand the candidate experience. So, this year I stopped preaching and decided it was time to take my own advice.

I didn’t apply at my own company. Instead, I went on LinkedIn and Indeed and looked for jobs that I felt were a match for my level of experience and skill set. Over the last 12 months, I’ve applied to 30 positions.  Ninety percent of the companies failed to respond. Not an acknowledgement. Not a rejection. Not a word. According to The Talent Board, a non-profit organization responsible for the Candidate Experience Awards (CandE), I’m in good company. Over 70% of online applicants never receive so much as a canned reply. While these statistics should have made me feel better, they didn’t. Statistics are what happen to everyone else. This was my experience. And, it was demoralizing.

I’m not a recent graduate and I’ve been working for myself for 20 years, so my experience and perhaps my marketability are different. But, we’re all human, we all want to be valued and none of us wants to be treated with disrespect or indifference.   Applying for a job is a humbling experience so to all the job seekers in the world, I can now honestly say — I feel your pain. Here’s my reaction to the whole thing:

  • Ouch! No matter how skilled or talented you are, when you go through the job search process, you’re vulnerable. It’s all about being accepted or rejected. Do everything in your power to make the candidate feel appreciated — regardless of whether you hire them or not. Scrutinize every step in the process to see how to make it more streamlined, more individual and more human. Make every word and every action count.
  • Ugh! Applying for a position feels like dating. I may not want to go to work for your company and you may not want to hire me, but it would be great if we could still be friends.   It’s a small world and someday I just might turn out to be your client, your customer or your boss.
  • Oops! Make the process personal, not institutional. Hiring requirements shouldn’t be set in stone. You’re likely to miss an exceptionally talented candidate if you remain inflexible. There has been enough research on the value of hiring introverts and right-brained thinkers to suggest that organizations should expand their scope. Creative types aren’t just for advertising agencies anymore. And, introverts have finally been vindicated. If you don’t believe me, then read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain or A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink.
  • Ha! You can reject me as a potential hire, but I can reject you as a viable brand. I have to admit that my opinion of the organizations that failed to communicate impacted the way I see them. Are they disorganized, discourteous or clueless? If I’m a stockholder, I can’t help but wonder if they’re treating customers the same way. If you’re not paying attention to the candidate experience, you’re wasting company money and you’re tarnishing your corporate and employer brand.
  • Seriously? Don’t make assumptions based on age or experience level. I recently interviewed over 50 professionals aged 45+ about the job search process. Here’s what they told me. And, by the way, I agree with them:
    • I don’t want your job. I’ve had it. I just want to contribute and continue to grow in my career.
    • You may be 20 years my junior, but I still want to learn from you.
    • I’m happy to share my experience, but I’m open to doing things differently. I’ve lived out of my comfort zone since I graduated from college so don’t assume I’m set in my ways.
    • I don’t think a task is beneath me just because I did it ten years ago.
    • I’m less afraid of failure – I’ve failed.
    • I don’t have mouths to feed except for my own which means my financial requirements aren’t what they used to be. Make me an offer.
    • I’m more tolerant and compassionate than I was 20 years ago. You have no idea what I’ve seen and done.
    • I’m all done with crazy – I’ll put up with just about anything, but spare me from mean people.

Maybe it’s time to evaluate more than just the candidate experience. It’s time to broaden your view of what makes a candidate viable.  During a focus group several years ago, I asked participants what advice they would offer companies to help them improve the job search process. One candidate said it best, “Put a face with the name and show there’s a heartbeat inside.”




Let’s Be Real (Posted on NACE Blog)

November 12, 2013

I began my career in public relations and learned the fine art of “packaging” content. My friends still tease me about my ability to take negative information and turn it into a tidy, if not murky, message. “I hit your car” turns into “While the circumstances of our meeting are less than ideal, I’m so glad we had the opportunity to share our contact information.”

I got out of PR as quickly as I could, but I still recognize BS (business-speak) when I hear it. Unfortunately, most companies still use business-speak on their websites, in presentations, and even during one-on-one discussions with students. It’s the number one reason why candidates look outside an organization to find out what’s really going on inside of it.

Recently a new radio station was launched in the Dallas area. It was named the best radio station in the city and when I tuned in, found that the reception was a little dicey. I turn it on occasionally and when I tuned in yesterday, I heard the announcer say, “KHYI – if you can’t hear us, then move!” No apologies, no BS – just the truth, but in a humorous way.

A few years ago, I worked with a company that was in the middle of fall recruiting when their CEO announced that the company was being bought. Recruiters wanted to know if they should discuss the merger and how to respond to student questions. The answer was simple. Yes. Bring it up to students, professors, career services and all of your campus contacts because I can assure you that your competitors will be using it to their advantage. Be honest. Avoid using packaged responses. Tell them what you know and admit what you don’t. Showing a canned video from the CEO about the merger won’t cut it. The best way to deliver difficult information is in person.

Keep in mind that you still need to give students a compelling reason to join your organization. Part of that involves giving them the language they need to explain why they accepted an offer with an organization in transition to their parents and friends. You’ll also need to be prepared to answer the following questions:

-What will change and what will stay the same?
-Will there be a shakeup of leadership?
-Why did the organization decide to merge?
-What’s the upside of joining the organization now?
-If I join the organization, is there a chance I’ll be laid off after the merger?
-Will you be able to keep your job?
-Is there a chance that my position, reporting structure or responsibilities will change after the merger?
-Will my benefits package, compensation and training/development be impacted (negatively or positively)?

Feel free to use humor or to speak candidly about why you’re staying with the organization. But, whatever you do, leave the BS out of it.