Candidate Rage (And Why it Might Be Your Fault)

Candidate Rage (And Why it Might Be Your Fault)

by Kerry Scott on 10 June 2009

2368879704_a2813357d5Photo by Lauren

Unemploymentality has a post that’s really an open letter to employers who treat candidates like crap.  In it, the author rails against companies who force candidates to apply only by filling out those very narrow online application forms, search for resumes using only keywords, and do other things that prevent them from really evaluating a candidate’s full experience (and finding the best people).

On the one hand, I agree.  Companies who do that stuff suck.  HR people who use these tools to look at an artificially narrow pool of candidates are idiots, and if the company’s hiring managers are dumb enough to let them choose their employees that way…well, that’s probably someplace most of us wouldn’t want to work anyway.  Smart companies have multiple ways of sourcing candidates, and aren’t exclusively using ads that feed into the applicant tracking systems.  They use referrals, social and traditional networking, and other stuff too.  They also know how to use those applicant tracking systems as a tool to find great people, not a crutch to keep them from having to look at “too many” candidates.  When I talk to those HR folks treat candidates as a mass of humanity they want to avoid contact with, I get crabby.  That’s a sign that they’ve been in the business too long and need to find something else to do for a living.

On the other hand, if you’re only looking for a job by applying through company websites, you’re kind of an idiot too.  Stop doing that.  Go through those channels if they’re required, but after  you’ve filled out their annoying online form, take the initiative to find a real human (preferably the one who is doing the hiring), and make a real connection.  Use your network to find people who work for companies you like, and ask them for help.  If you’re relying entirely on technology to find you a job, instead of using it as a tool to connect you humans who will give you a job…well, you’re just as bad as the HR folks who are relying entirely on technology to find them a candidate.  The trick is to use the technology to find a human.  THAT is why tools like Twitter and LinkedIn and Facebook are useful to job seekers.

Don’t get me wrong—big companies are going to require that you jump through their hoops.  That’s just a fact of life.  But you can’t stop there. You have to have more than one way in if you really want to get noticed.  Filling out forms and waiting for the phone to ring is not going to get you a job.

No company is impenetrable.  It’s up to you to find a way in.  I guarantee that the way in will somehow involve a human, not a computer.  The computer is the key that opens the door…it’s not the door.  Don’t confuse the two.

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Ben Thomas June 10, 2009 at 10:38 am

make a real connection. Use your network to find people who work for companies you like, and ask them for help. Couldn’t agree more

Tim Gardner June 10, 2009 at 11:49 am

Nice close. The computer is the key, not the door. I see the process getting more and more sterile, especially with so much being outsourced to someone who is told about the culture, but doesn’t live in the culture. Sometimes when the candidate gets inside, we look for why the recruiter got it wrong again.
With all the available tools for researching companies and people, a candidate has more opportunity to be informed than ever before, and more ways to find that one connection they need. I want to know I’m finindg problem solvers, not easy-pathers.

Tim Gardner’s last blog post..Active Watching

Clare June 10, 2009 at 1:26 pm

Excellent advice! I think a lot of candidates tend to fire off their CVs / applications, then sit back and think, “Well, done my part. It’s up to them now.” Maybe that would have worked when the economy was in better shape, but now a personal connection is one of the best ways of getting your application to the top of the pile. And, as you point out, it’s now so much easier to find the people you need.

Clare’s last blog post..Make every word count

Sabrina June 10, 2009 at 6:04 pm

So here’s a question I have, because I hear that advice a lot. Contact the hiring manager. Find out who he or she is and make sure they see your resume. And how does one do that? If I apply to Acme Corp and the listing says “Administrative Assistant to the Director of Information Technology” OK I can figure that out. But if it’s just generic “Administrative Assistant” and doesn’t give a department name or anything (I’ve spent the better part of the last 3 years looking and most do not) how are you supposed to figure that puzzle out? Especially if you know no one at that company or anyone who knows anyone? I’m not trying to refute your advice, I’d actually like to know. (Luckily I just started a new job yesterday but I have always wondered about this)

Kerry Sandberg Scott June 11, 2009 at 11:36 am

Sabrina—that’s a great question; in fact, I think I’ll turn it into a whole blog post. Watch for it next week—and thanks!!

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