As someone who has been on many a job search, I can tell you that the way people in this country are hired is broken. And the parts that aren’t broken, are needlessly rude and disrespectful.
1. Hiring managers insist on receiving paper résumés in the mail.
Paper résumés?! Seriously?! Who the hell still uses these things? I’m sometimes still flabbergasted that people use paper, let alone apply for jobs with paper résumés. They want you to mail your paper résumé to their office, rather than email the same information in a PDF or Word version. If you don’t know how to use the technology, then hire someone who can show you how.
2. HR does not acknowledge anything about your application, including your rejection.
One of the most maddening things about companies is their total dehumanization of what is one of the most stressful times in a person’s life, especially during the recession. While job candidates are strongly encouraged to send handwritten thank you notes to interviewers, the companies themselves can’t even be bothered to send out a letter or email informing candidates that the position was filled. Since when did simple manners become something beyond the grasp of most professionals?
3. The use of automated screening software.
I have mixed feelings on this one. When you apply for a job, especially on the job boards, your résumé is reviewed by HR screening software that looks for certain keywords. If it doesn’t find the keywords, your application is kicked out and never seen by human eyes. On the one hand, this is the stupidest piece of software around, because it ignores candidates who may be the perfect fit for the position. On the other hand, they do get hundreds of applications for a single position, and screening them all by hand is nearly impossible. I understand the need to make things simpler. Still, there has to be a better way to screen candidates, like asking questions on a web page so candidates can pre-screen themselves, and only allowing the qualified ones to submit their résumé for human review.
4. The near blindness to the existence of LinkedIn.
Read #1 above. I don’t know how many companies, including government organizations, won’t accept a LinkedIn profile. It’s one thing to ask for a PDF or Word version of a résumé, but to completely ignore what has been the single biggest network for professionals who want to connect with other professionals? For anyone who wants to work for a company that has moved beyond Windows XP and 12-year-old laptops that weigh as much as a car battery, avoid companies that don’t even know how to use, or allow, LinkedIn in the HR department.
5. The almost-heartless refusal to hire someone who has been unemployed for a year or more.
This has been an unfortunate trend on the parts of some hiring managers. They assume that someone who has been unemployed for a year or more must have something wrong with them, and not have a set of extenuating circumstances, like a four year recession and a limited job market in the city where they live. The companies that refuse to throw these people a lifeline and earn the loyalty and commitment of someone who needs to take care of his or her family are the ones that everyone else will shout for joy about when they go out of business. Frankly, these hiring professionals are some of the worst there are, because they ignore highly-qualified candidates for some arbitrary reason without knowing all the facts about the candidate’s background. They make assumptions and end up passing over some of the best-qualified candidates they’ll find.
It’s hard to believe there are still hiring professionals who don’t use even the most rudimentary technology or practice simple civility. How hard is it to treat people with basic dignity, or to use simple common sense when it comes to reaching out to people who are already plugged into the 21st century?
In some industries, there are more open jobs than there are professionals to fill them. As people continue to perpetuate many of these problems, we will continue to have problems as companies push away good candidates, or completely ignore them.
Erik Deckers is the owner of Professional Blog Service, and the co-author of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself. His new book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing. He is also a humor writer and satirist, which hopefully you figured out before you got this far into this blog post.