Unemployment is at an all-time low. Employment is at record highs. Corporate executives grumble about the war for talent, but their own actions hinder the hiring process and turn off potential candidates.
During the financial crisis and the ensuing years, companies were able to easily attract top talent at lower salaries—since there were so many people out of work. Fast forward to today, the job market has dramatically changed. It is now exceedingly challenging for corporations to find and hire people with specialized skills and experience.
I’m usually not the smartest person in the room, but I understand a little bit about Economics 101. If demand greatly exceeds the supply, something has to give. With respect to hiring, there are more jobs open than people available. When it comes to highly specialized positions, the number of suitable potential applicants becomes very small. This means that job seekers need to be enticed to leave their current jobs and accept a new position. It could be done by offering a person more money, making the process super easy, showing love and compassion for the job seeker and offering intellectually challenging and rewarding work with internal growth opportunities.
Companies are doing the exact opposite of what they should be doing. Instead of wooing job seekers, they are making their lives insufferably difficult and driving them crazy. If you are looking for a job today, it's likely that you’re going to encounter the following:
1. The job description is written with 20 or more bullet points of demanded qualifications. They are usually unrealistic wish lists with requirements that nobody could possibly possess. The unintended consequence is that overqualified people respond to the job ad thinking it's a senior-level role, those that have too-little experience submit their résumés because they send it everywhere and the appropriate ones are too intimidated to respond since they may only have 10 out of the 20 requirements.
2. The applications to apply to a job on a company website or listed on job aggregation sites, such as Indeed.com, are cumbersome, glitchy and require an inappropriate and extensive amount of personal data. Completing an application that is just like the résumé you have already attached is a waste of precious time. Then, you come to a part where you’re stuck, the site crashes, you lose everything you posted and have to start all over again. It wouldn't be so bad if you didn’t have to fill out different applications with each and every job you apply to. After all your efforts, you don’t even receive a courtesy email acknowledging your submission.
3. If you are miraculously contacted, it's probably three weeks later and you barely recall applying for the position. An invite will be sent for a phone call instead of an in-person interview. It's frustrating to then speak with a junior human resources representative who does not really understand the nature of the job.
4. Weeks pass and you’ll be summoned for a meeting with a hiring manager. The hours are set by the company without much consideration for your time and schedule. It is commonplace for a mid-to-senior level person to be required to meet with 6 to 12 people over a 3-to-6-month time period. Some of these internal interviewers are pushed to interview and noticeably don't want to be there. Often times, it's apparent that an interviewer didn’t take the time to read your résumé or just reads it right in front of you.
5. Along the way, you may be required to take a psychometric or other types of behavior and intelligence tests. Despite the fact that you hold a college and advanced degree from top schools and graduated with fantastic grades, you are still subjected to this mandatory testing. Why? Because they’ve always done it this way.
6. When an offer is extended, it is less than what you’ve asked for with little or no room for negotiations.
This is only a small fraction of what you have to endure. I could continue, but it would only serve to get you depressed.
If companies want to be serious about hiring and competing intelligently in this full-employment job market, they need to change with the times. Here is what they need to do to succeed:
1. Make the application process as smooth as possible. There is no need for a person with 20 or more years of experience to fill out a 10-page application that their résumé and LinkedIn profile already address.
2. Toss out all of the artificial intelligence, robotic screeners and other technologies that get in the way.
3. Have experienced human resources and hiring managers involved with the interview process right from the start. Show the candidates that they are valued, appreciated and will be treated with courtesy and respect.
4. Understand that most job seekers already have jobs (and lives) and can't interview when the companies snap their fingers.
5. Streamline the interview process so that it takes a fraction of the time than it does now.
6. Provide helpful feedback at every point in the process.
7. Be upfront and transparent about the compensation. If you can't meet the person’s asking price, let them know from the beginning and don’t string them along.
8. Tell people the real reason why the job is open, even if it is not flattering to the organization.
9. Offer what people want, such as work-at-home options, flexible hours, competitive compensation, more than two weeks of vacation, casual dress options, not being housed in cubicle farms and other perks and benefits.
10. Follow the golden rule of treating people like you’d like them to treat you.
The companies that recognize their interviewing styles are stuck in the last decade—and implement the much-needed positive candidate-centric changes—will be the ones who win the war for talent. The ones that don't change will lose the respect of the job seekers, word will spread and the company’s reputation will be tarnished, making it harder for them to attract the best and brightest.
I am an executive recruiter and founder and CEO of one of the oldest and largest global search firms in my area of expertise, and have personally placed thousands of professionals with top-tier companies over the last 20-plus years. I am excited to share all of my insider interviewing tips and career advancement secrets with you in an honest, straightforward, no-nonsense and entertaining manner—without any jargon or clichés. I will personally guide you through the entire interview process of getting a great, new job. My career advice will cover everything you need to know, including helping you decide if you really should seek out a new opportunity, whether you are leaving for the wrong reasons, proven successful interviewing techniques, negotiating a salary and accepting an offer and a real-world understanding of how the hiring process actually works. My articles come from an experienced recruiter’s insider perspective.