10 Things that Companies Can Do Before Hiring Anyone

 In Career Tips, Job Search Strategy, Recruitment Strategies (TA), Resumes and Cover Letters

10Things You Can Do Before HiringCandidate Guest Post

I’ve got a bone to pick with corporate America. As a professional in active job search, I sometimes wonder if human resource professionals and software developers ever stop to think about the kinds of experiences candidates are having simply trying to apply to their open positions.

So, I’ve got 10 suggestions that will definitely make the job seeker’s job a lot easier – and potentially help hiring companies attract and engage a lot more qualified candidates.

1. Understand the Difference Between an “Applicant” and a “Candidate

This is one of the biggest issues that drives people crazy when applying for jobs.  They have to spend 2 hours filling out some software program with all kinds of info when they may never make it past the next step in the process.

So, an “Applicant” is someone like me, who thinks they are qualified (70% to 100%) for the position in question. So, they apply.  At this stage all an Applicant wants to do is the following through their email:

  1. Job123@somecompany.com
  2. Send resume, Skills Sheet, and Cover Letter

A “Candidate” is someone who was an Applicant but has now passed some company internal review of their resume.  The Applicant has now become a real Candidate.  The company has gone from 1,500 Applicants to perhaps 10 real Candidates.

So, at this point the next steps in the process occur.

Company:  “Can you please fill out our internal Taleo (or other applicant tracking system program) with your full candidate profile?”

Guess what?  At that point, NO PROBLEM filling out 2 hours of data!!!!


2. Make Sure Your Job Description is Accurate:  Correct the Current Disconnect Among Hiring Managers, Human Resources, and Recruiters

Unfortunately, this size of this section could match “War and Peace” with all the stories I could tell.

This is the single biggest challenge facing Corporate America.  And I know that it is somehow related to the innumerable reports that I hear about job dissatisfaction in America which, according to some reports ranges between 50% to 66%.

Here is the problem.  Corporate America has chosen to cut back staff and management is overwhelmed.  So, when they want to hire someone they are very likely to put in minimal effort in organizing and formatting a good job description.  Instead, it’s more like – “What did I say when I hired Sally in 2005?”  Let’s pull that out of the filing cabinet.

What has to happen is that every hiring manager has to put some real thought into creating a job description that actually fits the respective job. That takes some thought and insight…and some time.

Take a look at jobs on Microsoft.  It seems like all their jobs never go past one or two pages.  When I see a four page job description I cringe.  What human in the course of a nine or ten hour day can do all that?

Some interview horror stories:

I once had an interview with a major insurance company.  I was called by an internal recruiter and provided the job description.  It sounded like a great job, very entrepreneurial and challenging.  Basically the job was marketing their health insurance plans to small and mid-size businesses.  I re-wrote my resume into a job-specific, targeted resume and then got an appointment for the face-to-face interview.  I spent a day and a half (including taking off a day from work) prepping for the job.  I then had another talk on the phone with the recruiter and she said to me, “Well, what their really looking for is A, B, and web analytics.”  I wrote those items on the margin of the job description because they weren’t in the 253 word job description.  I then did some brush up work on those three items.

When I went for the interview with the hiring manager she really liked me.

When I told her that I had read about 20 pages of a 50-page report from the CEO of the company about the health insurance plan market (from their website), she said, “Well, you’re probably the only person who has ever read that.”

After we talked more about the position she said , “What we really need is someone who can stand in front of a room full of managers and defend our web analytics.”

That was the full and total sum of what she was looking for.  It had nothing to do with the 253-word job description.

So, the job description was not accurate, and neither was the information the recruiter had given me.  If I had known that beforehand  I would have quickly known that I wasn’t the candidate – and not wasted my time or theirs.

I recently had an interview with a major company after I got the job description from a recruiter.  The recruiter had gotten me the interview without me even knowing anything about the position.  So, I read the job description and I kept seeing references to “small business” and “driving revenue into retail stores.”  I was somewhat confused.

So, when I got into the interview the first question I asked the manager was, could she clarify these issues.  “Is the goal here to drive small business into your retail stores?”

Her answer was, “Oh no.  I didn’t even know it said that.”

I then showed her three occurrences.  She said, “No, we have 24 verticals and Enterprise to manage.”

As I was going through my resume with her she stopped me about half-way.  “You’re way over-qualified for this.  You’re too strategic.”

I said, “Well, what is the focus of the position?”

“Well, we need somebody who can facilitate, validate, and work with our editorial and legal departments.”

So, the job went from a high-level position, “manage a $5 – 8M advertising budget”, and other assorted elements to something very different.

This shouldn’t be happening.


3. Take out the “Middleman/woman buffers” between the hiring manager and recruiters

Many corporations now use an internal “buffer” who receives all the resumes for a position.  The intimacy between recruiters and the hiring manager nuances have been lost.  So, when recruiters are involved they often don’t have any more than what is written on the job description.  Moreover, they have no easy way of asking.

My solution would be that if you have a stable of recruiters, have your hiring manager conduct a 30-minute phone conference with all the recruiters.

Hiring Manager: “Does everyone understand all the points on the job description?”

Recruiter: “Well, outside the job description, what kind of personality traits would you like in the ideal candidate?”


4. Stop listening to Lawyers and stop having Lawyers as VP – Human Resources

It just seems to me that we’re killing initiative in this country because all lawyers dwell on one thing – what can go wrong and who can we blame?

Let’s get past that and get back on track with innovative ideas and have internal idea generation incubators.

The same manager I mentioned earlier (who didn’t know her own job description) told me that she was having a hard time getting success stories from clients.  She asked me about process regarding that procedure.  I gave her my thoughts and she said, “Well our lawyers won’t let us take a success story from a client.  They believe the client could lie about capabilities.”

Well, if you can’t get it from the client then how do you get a success story?  I don’t know too many clients that want to call up any company and say, “Hey, I have a great usage story about your product!  Let’s create a testimonial.”

It just doesn’t happen that way.


5. Get Your Process in Order for Interviewing

My friend recently told me about an experience she had interviewing with a company.

  • A very lengthy personality test, “fill in the dots” that was about 3 hours long
  • Two telephone interviews
  • A full day-long interview schedule from 8:15 AM to 4:15 PM with 10 staffers

She finished the entire day-long interviews and then got approached by the HR representative.

“Well, now we need to know your grade point average in college (many years prior).

Unfortunately, my friend had to send for an official transcript to her college that had to be mailed to the company.  She only had a 2.50 GPA and she didn’t get the job.

If the GPA was that critical in the hiring process, then how about stating that up front?


6. The Worst Type of Pre-Screen Telephone Interview

I’ve only had this happen twice but today was one of them.  It’s the worst type of pre-screen imaginable and my two occasions were with major corporations, one a global firm.

You are set up for a telephone screen and await the call.  This turns out to be a low level personnel staffer who recites a litany of questions and then types your answers.

So, what you get is, “Wait a minute can you say that again while I type it?  I can’t repeat the same thing that is on your resume.”

So, the entire interview goes along this way with the staffer furiously typing information down.  They have no real understanding of the job on which they are working and really can’t offer any insights other than what’s on the job requirement (SEE Item #2 – Make Sure Your Job Description Is Right).


7. Start Thinking About Skype

I’ve only used Skype about twice but it seemed like an ideal tool to replace telephone interviews.  I used it with a recruiter in NYC and it really gave me a sense of who she was.  Incredibly, I don’t see too many companies or recruiters using it.  With gas ay $3.90 a gallon, Skype is a great tool for recruiters.


8. Stop “Cake Box” Hiring:

Whatever happened to, “I can work with him/her?”

When I was a kid there were Duncan Hines and Betty Crocker cake mixes sold.  They were great because all you had to do was add water.

Unfortunately, that seems to be where we are with hiring today.  No one is willing to take a bright person who fits 70% – 90% of the job requirements and is willing to work with them, and let them learn the last 10% of the job requirements over 3 – 6 months.  I know that recruiters are completely frazzled by their inability to work with otherwise good candidates.  These days they not only have to find the needle in the haystack – it has to be the “Golden Needle”.


9. Whatever Happened to Training?

How about helping the unemployed by allowing them to use onsite training software?

One of the biggest obstacles I have in finding new employment is getting “hands-on” experience.  That means working with the 35 email software programs, 22 marketing automation software programs, and other assorted software that is used in companies today.

Be a good corporate citizen and be creative.  Start an internship program with your local One Stop Career Center (Employment Services), church networking groups, or other organizations that would allow access to the software “dummy data” used in computer-based training (CBT).

This is strongly related to Item #4 above – Stop Listening to Lawyers.

I know that lawyers are telling their clients not to allow internships unless they are affiliated with colleges.  The lawyers’ logic s are all about legal liability.  Let’s get past that and help the 14.2 million unemployed people and the 8.3 underemployed people who would be willing to learn the new technology – on their own time.

I would also call this a shout out to the software companies in America who could do it right from their own websites.  You would be creating an army of supporters and advocates who when their next job opens up might be an advocate for your software.


10. Stop the Age Discrimination

This is America’s Dirty Little Secret that everyone knows is going on but no one wants to touch.

You’ve ostracized the same people who for years made your company grow through their dedication and hard work.  Now you’re listening to the lawyers and HR staff over every possible “potential liability”.

What you should be concentrating on is a great potential pool of workers who have excellent skills.  These are the same skills that I see in job descriptions but now there’s a “secret pact” among HR staffs, hiring managers, and recruiters who all use the code words.

In the last few days I’ve asked a friend to network me through his company to a specific position in one of their offices.  He works in an out-of-state office but agreed to let his boss know about me.  When he told his boss the first question asked was,

“How old is he?”


Hoping in America

Proudly standing with 14.2 Million Unemployed and 8.3 Million Underemployed


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