It’s been a tough several years for businesses and the world of work has been upended in any number of different ways. A lot of things have changed, but sadly in the domain of the job search, some things that should have by now, just haven’t. I know that recruiters and hiring managers are busy people – you need to get your positions filled quickly and you often get hundreds of applicants for a single posting, especially these days. As a career coach, I see it from the other side – those unfortunate individuals who, for whatever reason (mostly not their fault) have lost their jobs and are desperately still trying to provide for their families. Or those who are in a toxic work environment (there are still lots of those too) and are trying to get out. And then there are those individuals who are just trying to better themselves, get a promotion or land in a job where they actually might be happy.
So in the crazy quest to get these positions filled, I’m thinking it might be time for a little grace and consideration for those individuals who have optimized every resume for each job description, painstakingly agonized over their cover letter, and braved the online systems to get everything correct and in on time. It’s tedious, depressing work and a full-time job for most. And then to get the dreaded “We appreciate the time that you took to apply for the position of X. Though your qualifications were impressive, we have decided to move forward with other applicants who more closely fit our needs at this time.” When you had every qualification they were looking for. Or the equally vanilla “Thank you for submitting an application for X. We appreciated the opportunity to learn more about you and your interest in this position. Unfortunately, at this time we will not be moving you through to the next stage of the process. We are happy to keep you in mind for future openings.” And they never do.
I realize it’s tough work on the side of the recruiter or hiring manager too, and everyone has little time to spend on people they don’t know and maybe never will. Some of you are doing a great job with these unknown applicants. But in the hopes that other recruiters & hiring managers might take note, here are 3 things your job searchers wish you would do:
- Accept their LinkedIn connection requests and especially their requests for an informational interview. Yes you are busy, but everyone has at least 10 minutes a day, a week or month to spend talking to someone that might be a potential great hire at some point for your company. All people hiring should want to have repository of names they can call on when a position opens up. If you’ve already vetted them, it could save you tons of time and money down the road. How many of those requests do you get anyway? It shows initiative and courage to reach out like that and it should be rewarded with some sort of a response. Ask for a resume first if you’re not sure they have what you want (though their LinkedIn profile will give you that) and if you don’t think they’d be a good fit – send to someone else in the company where they would. Either way it’s time well spent.
- Be conscious of any biases that might come up when reviewing their documents, especially the ‘age’ thing. The World Health Organization says that ageism is the most accepted form of discrimination around today and it shows up big time in the hiring process. Most people don’t even realize they have these biases. And of course nobody would admit that it’s going on, but ask job searchers over 50 why they can’t seem to get even an interview when they are very well qualified. Maybe too qualified? But if they are over qualified and still applying for your job, there is a reason for it, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There is data to show that multigenerational teams are way more productive that a team of similar ages – sometimes by 80%. Mature workers have great life experiences as well as work experience, a good work ethic and can be great mentors to younger employees. It is mostly a myth that they don’t know technology but that may also be a great mentor opportunity for younger folks. And if you are worried about them not working at the org for very long – that may also be untrue. But do you really expect your younger employees to work at your company for the next 20 years either? You’d be surprised at how loyal employees with a lot of work experience can be and many are working a lot longer when in the right environment. It’s also not only the age thing where bias comes in, but also the traditional thought process of hiring where criteria like a lot of experience (or a longer resume), transferable skills, job gaps, diversity and nontraditional education to name a few are automatically rejected or dismissed as not valid. A job searcher might still make a very good candidate but are not looked at because they don’t tick all the traditional boxes.
- Give feedback on their acceptability or interview when asked. I know this is a touchy subject and you have to be careful about giving feedback on a resume or interview. I’m sure your legal departments have told you not to talk to people at all, but think about the poor job searcher who keeps applying for jobs they aren’t quite qualified for, again and again, though there may be the perfect job for them right down the hall. Or maybe they were second in line and weren’t exactly perfect, but with a little more work, they would be. Or they did something wrong on the interview that could easily be fixed. These people could go on repeating their mistakes again and again, never getting anywhere if no one helps them. Maybe someone else in the company could use this person? Or maybe they need to be directed to a different company or industry altogether. Obviously you can’t do this if you have hundreds of applicants, but what if someone actually reaches out and asks for feedback, or if they are nicely persistent when you give them the pat reply, or the cold shoulder? There could be some lingo that you could use (approved by legal) that gives them a hint, a little bit of help. Perhaps a way around could be to give the job searcher some general ‘themes’ around the resume, what they are qualified for, or interview tips that might help them get to the next step. Maybe a little generic but still useful information.
Again, this will take time and all you are trying to do is your job and fill your positions. I’m wondering though if that little bit of extra time taken at the front end might go a long way to help you find a better long term employee in the end? Or perhaps a diamond in the rough, a great employee for another department or a great bench if you need them later on. Or maybe just give you some good Karma. These are not just resumes, behind them are flesh & blood people trying their best to make their lives better. A little help may be returned in many different ways and you never know, anyone of us could find ourselves in that position one day.