Total Breakdown

There’s an apparent contradiction in the job hunting universe right now.  On the one hand Corporate type are screaming as to how they need to import people for technically skilled jobs.  On the other hand millions of technically skilled people can’t get jobs. There’s something really wrong going on here.

One question management should ask is this:”Why the good, experienced people aren’t applying to jobs on job boards anymore?” Or responding to their ATS Systems. Here’s a clue, those expensive systems are causing a communications breakdown that’s hurting your company.

This is good news to job-seekers, but you can’t get to these jobs by applying. Here’s why: jobs in the public market are filled by matching skills listed in the job posting with those found on the resume. At best, this is a poor process, and why most jobs in the public market take so long to fill. Jobs in the hidden market are filled based on internal promotions, referrals and recommendations, with candidates being assessed on their past performance and future potential. For job-seekers who aren’t perfect matches on skills and experience this is great news, but to get the chance to be evaluated this way you need to be recommended by someone in your network.

What companies seem to fail to understand is that if the system no longer works for candidates, they won’t work the system.  There’s a limit to what a candidate can do and if the funnel doesn’t work, eventually the candidates’ going to leave the system in frustration, If enough people take themselves out of the market in frustration, the market’s going to dry up. Screw you does work both ways.

Of course the poor candidate sees the same old, same old stuff about networking and refferals. But what if your network doesn’t go where you want it to?  The companies went to the effort to advertise, yet it seems like they don’t even want the leads they ask for?

A double standard seems to exist in the heads of the corporate types.  They want to hold the potential job seeker to higher standards than even themselves meet and yet never provide any feedback. presumably because they think that no communication is safer.

Providing Feedback Has Legal and Liability Implications

“I agree that it would be beneficial for a candidate to get feedback from potential employers,” said one former hiring manager. “But it is rare for someone being interviewed to receive specific feedback on how they did because of the legal implications involved and the potential liability the person sharing the information might incur.”

Candidates Don’t Always Commit “Obvious” Mistakes

“Hiring is often subjective,” he continued. “Candidate A was more likable than Candidate B, Candidate B answered questions with better examples than Candidate C, and so on. It is often not that a candidate not hired committed an obvious mistake—perhaps a lot of little ones. It is that another person did better, and since the candidate desiring feedback wasn’t part of the other candidate’s interview, it makes it difficult to provide feedback without seeming arbitrary.”

Individual Hiring Managers Often Need Team Approval

Said another hiring manager: “Hiring is often a team sport, meaning that I might like a candidate, but the decision of the team is a different candidate. This, too, will complicate the feedback to a candidate.”

Employers Prefer Hiring Someone They Know or Who Comes Recommended

Another hiring manager had this to say: “The real reason that people do not reply to applicants is the ‘general applicants’ are likely coming from the third or fourth tier quality of the job leads I get. The best people to hire are ones I have worked with before, and the second best are those who are recommended by people I know and respect. And the third tier are people I may meet at networking events.”

The general consensus from the hiring managers we interviewed was that they don’t respond to the majority of the job applications they receive because of the job applications—and the candidates themselves. From not reading the job posting correctly and submitting inaccurate info, to applying for a position that they are not nearly qualified for, many hiring managers opt to directly delete those applications since they feel that the job seeker didn’t take the time to accurately assess his skills and apply for the job properly.

Recruiters May Be Strapped for Time

Said this hiring manager: “Many hiring managers don’t follow up because there’s simply not enough time. For each job that we post, there may be hundreds of job applications. Answering each and every one of those would be a full-time job in and of itself.”

Hiring Decisions Are Made Based on Intangibles

And an (honest) hiring manager added this: “One reason I wouldn’t get back to someone is if I had to tell them something that they couldn’t ‘fix,’ such as their personality. If I didn’t like them, I’m not going to respond back. You don’t want to offend the person—or argue with him—so you stay quiet.”

What Do Employers Recommend If You Don’t Hear Back?

So let’s say that you’re an amiable person with the skills and experience you need for a position—but you still don’t hear back. What should you do? Well, one recruiter suggested creating a post-interview checklist, where the candidate self-assesses how she did in the critical areas of the interview. You would need to develop a list of all of the aspects that are part of the job interviews (such as quality of examples given, amount of research done that proved relevant, attire, rapport built with the interviewer, etc.). While this requires you to be objective, this might be the best way for you to determine (in lieu of speaking with the actual hiring manager) just how well you did—and what you can do better next time.

Why Employers Don’t Respond to Job Applications

So the poor candidate is left with nothing to show for all his trouble, all to frequently, not even a “thank you for coming in to see us” and can never find out why.  It’s don’t let the door hit you on the way out and buzz off.

Of course the company doesn’t want to tell you the real reason they don’t want to hire you.  Especially if you are over 40. The people on the other side are afraid of you.  In fact, fear permeates the entire hiring process. Fear that you will quit, fear of a bad hire, fear that you may take their job, fear that you are too good, and fear that you might want more money later on.

When some colleagues and I started a group a few years ago to help people in our community find work, I was not prepared for the crisis of underemployed or unemployed men and women over 40 — particularly white-collar managers.

If we hire an overqualified older person at a salary that is clearly below what she should earn, we’ll lose her as soon as something better comes along

Maybe, but that’s also applicable for younger managers, and younger managers are the ones who are actually being recruited. A 50-year-old manager who just blew through all of her savings, maxed all her debt, and is borrowing from friends, will jump at a job that pays her enough to cover her bills. Sure, she may jump at something else that pays more — but that’s less likely for her than it is for someone under 40.

If we hire an overqualified older person at a lower salary than he should be earning, there’s probably something wrong with him

How can the poor job seeker overcome a feat mindset that he doesn’t even know about?  He’s got two strikes against him simply because the other side of the table is too afraid of making a mistake.

Too make matters worse HR department are looking for ever more data. As if complete dossiers will help make sound decisions. A business is not a police state and police states don’t work very well anyway.

Sixty-seven percent of HR professionals report they lack data and analytics capabilities required to gain a ‘big picture’ of company talent, according to the 2016 SilkRoad State of Talent Management report. The research is intended to provide analysis of the issues that matter most to HR professionals and forecasts the top talent management trends in 2016.

Alarmingly, 44 percent of HR professionals have no plans for performance management projects in 2016, even if research shows an increased dissatisfaction with current performance practices.

The study also found that 55 percent of HR executives are concerned with properly engaging and retaining employees, as fierce competition for top talent has shifted the balance of power to savvy candidates. Another 48 percent worry about creating an attractive organizational culture.

“Landing a highly skilled candidate can sometimes feel like hunting for an elusive unicorn,” said Dan Finnigan, CEO of Jobvite. “Recruiters need to get creative and take a multipronged approach using social media, insights gleaned from analytics, and mobile tools, while engaging the entire organization to help find and hire top talent. That’s how winning companies will stay one step ahead in this competitive career landscape.”

According to the Jobvite’s Recruiter Nation Survey, recruiters need to incorporate data into their work — a full 72 percent acknowledged data analytics as somewhat important or very important. In addition, 92 percent of recruiters utilize social media in either discovering or evaluating candidates. Eighty-seven percent of recruiters use LinkedIn, while 55 percent use Facebook and 47 percent use Twitter.

“2016 brings unique challenges for HR professionals in a more competitive than ever job marketplace,” said John Westby, vice president of corporate marketing at SilkRoad. “Data-driven decisions and an increased focus on properly engaging employees will be the keys to identifying needs and winning the battle for top talent.”

Recruiters need to build their reputation?  Definitely.  This is a good piece demonstrating that what goes around, comes around.

My team stated that the reason for the lead time was mainly because of negative reviews of the company by word of mouth / or on portals such as glassdoor or just plain whatsapp/twitter. They said that the existing image of our organization as a “Potentially great place” to work in was passe and we had to re-build it before we got to the quality candidates we wanted. In fact they even connected this with some of the attrition and the general dissatisfaction among the staff.

I did not believe them and hopped onto one of the portals myself and what I saw there opened my eyes. Ratings were given to our entire recruitment process and in the worst of these instances –  one concerned anonymous applicant had ardently requested others not to bother applying as they believed that our organization lacked basic respect for people because of the way they were treated during the interview process.

And karma is a bitch even in India. Companies need to start understanding that how they treat potential employees and how they recruit doesn’t stay in HR.  A bad reputation will affect your business and not in a good way.

Companies need to overcome their fears and take chances.  Otherwise nothing works for anybody.  The more the people in a company are afraid, the less productive and engaged the workforce is.  I’ve been there and it’s not fun. The same goes for hiring. You might think that waiting for the purple squirrels and good culture fit is the right choice, but there are no purple squirrels and culture is a mutual thing.  There’s a total breakdown in hiring and it needs to end for everybody’s sake.

For more on the dysfunctional economy click Here or on the tag below.


  1. davidhuntpe · April 30, 2016


    First, thanks for the mention of my essay!

    I’d like to comment on a few things:

    * The mention by one hiring manager that this is a “team sport”. BS. This is a cop-out, a responsibility dodge: “Well, they were a bad hire, but at least the finger can’t point to me specifically – we were ALL fooled.”

    Yes, a team can recommend; that’s the function of a team and it’s a good idea – wash out individual biases and get different perspectives. But ultimately the manager needs to DECIDE. That’s the ROLE of a manager. If a manager is only counting hands to find the majority, or requires unanimity of thought, that’s passing the buck. After all, you ever get 8-10 people to agree, unanimously, where to go for lunch??

    * I agree with the idea of personal referrals. Then why is HR systematically shutting that path down? Multiple companies I’ve talked with have explicitly stated that they DO NOT PERMIT that any more. (I’ve been told by more than one hiring manager to whom I’ve networked “I’m not ALLOWED to talk with you.”)

    * I’ve often said that, in return for submitting a resume, I don’t expect a flowery, hand-written note. And absent an ATS I’m even forgiving about not hearing anything given the volume they’re probably getting. But if I come in for an interview, I damned well BETTER at least know if I got it or not. Or I’m going to tell others what a POS company this is.

    * How can a job seeker overcome the fear they may jump ship, might gun for the boss’ chair? The only answer I have is:

    * “Big data”? The dirty secret of management is that decisions are almost always made in the face of incomplete and sometimes contradictory evidence. The clock is often ticking. Again, this is a responsibility dodge… and, per a commenter on one of my essays, managers suffer from “analysis paralysis” until only one option remains, so that’s the one they go with by default. And often that’s not the BEST option, but it’s the method that absolves them from having to – you know – actually make a decision between multiple still-open options.

    * Not only do specific companies get bad reps, whether as a place to work or as a place to try and get into, but the way – as a gestalt – companies treat people taints the way people view companies in general:

    Great piece. Thanks!


  2. penneyvanderbilt · April 30, 2016

    Reblogged this on Ancien Hippie.


  3. Keith Glass · May 1, 2016

    And, of course, the OTHER downside of posting to job boards: constantly being hit by contract recruiters (virtually all on VOIP lines from India) based on a single keyword search, and totally out-of-left-field solicitations , typically from Insurance Companies, to do “financial services”. Monster is specifically bad that way: every time I post to Monster (typically, because the firm uses them for resume management), I get hit almost immediately by 2-3 insurance companies. . .


    • jccarlton · May 1, 2016

      I want to find the guy who came up with the business model that says that you could outsource recruiting to India and scream and yell very clearly that it was a VERY bad idea.


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