Dear Employer: On Behalf Of Your Applicants

If you read all the blog posts I’ve penned – yes all 1,197 of them; you’d find that the majority are directed at the people looking to get or keep their employment. The minority of the posts I write are directed at the people who represent the companies that applicants approach for employment. This post is one of them.

So hello there! Whether you’re the owner/operator or an employee yourself tasked with finding the best talent out there to fulfill your needs, I implore you to read the 900 words I’ve put down here and then reflect a little. Please do add your comments from your perspective as that would be very helpful to others.

Okay, so you need a person or people to join your workforce. That’s great news for you and great news for those who are looking to make a contribution and start working with your organization. Understandably time is money and you’d like to get a hold of the best people to choose from in the least amount of time. You and I both know you’ll get applications ranging from highly qualified and professional to hardly qualified at all and desperate.

Sure it would be nice if you only received applications from the cream of the crop out there but there’s a lot of people looking for fewer jobs than exist in our tight economy. Still, behind every application, resume and cover letter, there’s a real person offering up their skills, experience and education to work with your firm. Let’s remember that; those people are…well…people. They’ve got hopes, dreams, and feelings just like you and me.

On behalf of those applying, thanks first of all for including what you’re really looking for in your postings. That saves you and the job seekers time trying to figure out which jobs need what skills and experience. You’ve done your part if you’re clear about these; oh and including a bit about the environment and what the person would actually do is much appreciated. Now it’s up to those applicants to target their applications to your needs.

When you do get applications, I imagine like so many other employers I hear from, you’re a little overwhelmed. It’s flattering actually isn’t it to think so many people were attracted by your advertisement that they applied? On the other hand that’s a lot of applications to go through, especially when you assume you’ll have everything from near perfect candidates to very poor ones. Still, it’s a nicer problem than having too small a number apply and wondering what you have to do to attract the best talent.

I can’t tell you how much just acknowledging you’ve received someone’s application means to those who took the time to apply. The discouragement and disappointment people feel when they pin their hopes on getting an interview and not even getting contacted is extremely distressing. You see it’s not just you they applied to but many jobs with many organizations. It’s pretty hard to consistently be that happy, positive person putting their best foot forward over a prolonged job search.

Just promise to acknowledge all those who apply and you’ll get a reputation for being a compassionate and respectful employer. That would be a good thing wouldn’t it? You know, the kind of employer that really gets it; that empathizes with the applicants they attract. That line in the posting that says, “We appreciate all the applications but only those qualified will be contacted for an interview” wears a little thin when very qualified people apply and don’t even get verification you got the application in the first place.

That takes time of course and someone’s time to respond. That one could argue is the cost of doing business though. You both have needs; you an employee to do work and they a job where they can contribute and produce income.

Everyone knows you can’t hire all the applicants. They get that. What every applicant hopes for though is to be recognized for the effort of the application. Sure you get applications from some that are too general and don’t address your needs. Maybe however those people are doing what they think is right. How will they ever learn what they need to know if they get zero feedback though?

Oh, and could you please stay open to hearing people in interviews and resist the urge to measure them up against your personal prejudices. By prejudices, I mean assuming young people have no maturity or older workers can’t learn anything new and will drain your health care plans. I tell you this; give these two groups of people your open view and you’ll find some real gems.

You wouldn’t believe how appreciative some people with gaps in their resumes will be if you give them a chance. Maybe they cared for a dying parent, raised a family or coped with a broken marriage but now have taken the steps to ensure these factors are no longer a barrier. That would be precisely why they are applying now…they are ready.

Look, you want good people; the best in fact. We all get that. All I’m saying is while you’re not a charity, you can be respectful. Don’t become jaded and just another faceless, uncaring organization. You don’t want that reputation or you’ll attract more of the wrong people.

So, how about your side of things? Comments?


The Best Don’t Always Get Hired

Sometimes the best people find themselves not being chosen for employment opportunities. They submit strong applications, they interview very well, but someone else gets the nod. Yes it happens and we need to acknowledge it. So should the good people of this world stop applying for jobs because the best don’t always win out in the end? Of course not.

Take for example your unionized workplace setting. In these kind of settings, it is more than occasional that someone who is better suited to a position finds themselves finishing second to someone else who meets all the minimum requirements but doesn’t necessarily sell themselves as the best candidate. The seniority of the applicant might trump the performance of the person who is better which is indeed unfortunate. That to me is always perplexing, as I’ve always wanted the best candidate to get the job.

The above scenario does happen in unionized workplaces; sometimes a unionized employee upset with finishing second to a better candidate will even grieve a hiring decision and sometimes win the appeal. Imagine the implications of that process. Two people apply, the Management decides on the person they feel best meets the job requirements, the person who finishes 2nd grieves this to their union, an appeal is launched, and the decision overturned. So now you’ve got someone in the job that everybody knows wasn’t the initial choice and the best person isn’t in the role? What a message to send everyone.

Another situation could be that the interviewers and the selection panel aren’t skilled enough in their own jobs to make the best decisions, and so they just pick the wrong candidate and the best get passed over. Even when entirely competent, interviewers could themselves be stressed out, mentally fatigued or distracted, overly tired or ill. In other words the usually good judgement they have is distorted and they make a decision they’d otherwise not make. In short, they are human and err.

My point here is that because people are at the key of the selection process, errors are possible because no one is infallible. We always hope of course that every single time the very best candidate gets selected, and where we personally are involved we trust that person is us.

What often comes into play in the selection process are the factors that go beyond the written requirements in a job posting. Oh sure the educational requirements and skills are printed in black and white, as too are the job responsibilities. However, often the person making the final decision is looking at other less well-known factors. So you could have a decision at that point made on things like team chemistry and personality fit. Can you imagine a job posting that says, “Applicant must mesh with existing chemistry of the present team”. How could you prepare yourself for that?

Looking at things from the point of view of those making hiring decisions, you really do have to look at the environment that you are going to be adding a person to. Do you want to stir things up with the inclusion of a strong personality or are you looking for someone to mirror what currently exists? How will the addition of one of the three final candidates for a job impact on those currently working on a team? All candidates might look entirely qualified on paper and interview very well, but the best person for the job might be all three of them and only one can actually get hired.

And so it is that you might be told, “There was nothing more you could have done to get this job, and you interviewed very well but another candidate was selected.” Is this a good thing or not? Nothing else you could have done. I’d say that is actually great news. Sure you didn’t get the job, but it would appear you left it all on the table and didn’t hold anything back. Your personality might have just not been a good fit for the organization and the people you’d be working with. So that in turn could mean one of two things; you may not have worked out well and thus have been happy yourself working with them, or if you hear that again and again, you might need to consider a change in the vibes you are giving off.

Do yourself a favour though. Only about 1% of job seekers ever even think to write a note to an employer after they have been rejected for a job in the final decision. Think about writing a note expressing your disappointed with the end result but at the same time wishing to let them know of your continued interest in the role or a similar position. Hey if you got to the very end and finished number 2, it could be that number 1 doesn’t work out after a month, or another opening comes up. Write that letter and maybe they realize they should have hired you in the first place.

Exceptionally qualified people – the best people – do sometimes finish second. That’s life, it happens and it’s not fair maybe but it happens. If you give up, you will lose out 100% on all the jobs you don’t apply for – guaranteed.