The question came up yesterday on whether or not you should “sell” your organization to prospective employees. The argument against that was with hundreds of applicant per position you don’t need to bother and that the resources are better utilized in selecting the best people from the pool of applicants.
The problem is that creates some bad habits. The largest one is that the entire process becomes a weeding out process rather than a discovery process. It’s all to easy to find one reason or another to reject somebody. Do enough rejections and pretty soon that’s all the system does. Also these days, do nothing but reject potential jobseekers and pretty soon the word will go out over the interwebs and in networking meetings, X isn’t worth wasting your time to apply. The unfilled jobs that keep coming up in the ads will reinforce that.
Then there is the problem that all jobs are not created equal. Sorry, but all jobs are NOT the same. A job requires a multitude of different skills that sometimes are not easy to define. At least not if the job ads I’m seeing and their disconnect with reality are any indication. The reason that this disconnect happens is that the job grew with the person that was doing that job and when the time came, usually as the result of something like ISO 9000 whoever was sitting in a seat just put down everything he did. which gets written up by people who don’t know anything about a task and how it’s performed. So the job ad becomes mishmash of requirements that without knowing something about what the company does don’t make much sense. Add to that an ATS keyword requirement and what you have left is something that’s just useless for communicating the actual needs of the person with the need.
So the companies have a breakdown in communications, a breakdown they may not even know they have. The HR people have a lot invested in that expensive software that was supposes to solve their hiring issues, the expensive training from high priced consultants. they have to justify that expense. As far as they are concerned, the fact that applications are streaming in shows that things are working. But none of the applications seem to work out, be a good fit. That’s even if the system isn’t being sabotaged from within.
The problem is that the recruiters have forgotten the selling aspect of recruiting. And the fact that selling can add value and save time. Selling is communicating with potential applicant and giving them the tools to be able to determine if they are a good fit. Selling works both for the applicant and the company. Selling can save the applicant time and effort and believe it or not, most job seekers don’t want to waste their time on pointless applications any more than companies want to screen resumes. Everybody benefits from clear and effective channels of communication.
The other half of this is that every applicant is a potential client, customer, vendor or competitor. Just because they are applying at your company right now, that does not mean that they will not be applying who knows where and talking to whoever. Then there’s the social media aspect. That hard rejected applicant might just describe his experience and have it go viral. After all company mistreatment of people is big news these days. At the speed of which things hit the internet and spread can you really afford to take that risk?
Somebody said to me, I think it may have been SF author John Ringo, always be selling. He’s right. More than that take steps to protect your brand, which is the most valuable thing that your company has. You’re willing to work hard to protect it in marketing and sales, yet you let recruiting drag it through the mud? Here’s some links about selling your company to prospective employees.
Along with the inevitable dummies book.
Selling your company should start long before you need to hire. It doesn’t need to be expensive and it probably ties into things your company is already doing. Consider this, a company across the street from where I live, ASML has been trying to hire engineers since I was laid off. I’ve been rejected, but even so they haven’t been able to fill those jobs. What could they do to change that. Well the local chapter of the ASME is moribund. Why not send a mailing out to local ASME members and see if one of the managers would be willing to volunteer some time to revive the chapter and provide a meeting place. Then get involved with the local colleges. Essentially all you are risking is a meeting place and some volunteer time, but the payoff is access to the local engineering network. In fact you would BE the local engineering network. There’s no reason that this kind of thing couldn’t work with all sorts of jobs.
Furthermore when people do come in for interviews treat them like the VIP’s that they are. These are the people you prospectively want to trust our future to and you treat them how? “We need to pressure people to see how they deal with stress.” Seriously people, interviews are already stressful enough without playing silly games. Frankly if there’s something in the process that starts with “we need,” you don’t.
Then you blame the poor applicants when you can’t find people. Here’s a clue, if you can’t get candidates to work for you, it’s not them, it’s you. I’ve also put in some suggestions in how you should treat somebody who’s coming in for an interview.
- Make sure the candidate knows how to get to your desk. Not just the plant, to your desk. That means directions to the plant, who they will encounter in the lobby, who they phone if nobody’s in the lobby, what the door procedures are. Remember that the candidate doesn’t know any of these things.
- Make sure that your application is USABLE. That means that it’s easy to fill out quickly, easy to fit the required data in and that there is a good space in the lobby to do this. I’ve had to fill so many applications trying to fit information in spaces where stuff can’t fit on clipboards in lobbies with those modern designed low chairs that put your knees in your chest that I think that it’s a torture test.
- Make sure that the lobby person knows that the candidate is coming and that there will be somebody in the lobby when the candidate shows up. A blank locked door with a buzzer is a big turn off. Remember that the candidate doesn’t know what to do and has never been to your door before.
- Start the interview with a tour. Not just the cubicle farm, the shop floor and everything. Make the candidate feel like he’s coming to a great place that you are proud of. You like your place, show it off.
- Swag. The company probably has some. Pens, Tee shirts, hats. Desk toys and sample packets work too. Make up a bag and hand it to the candidate when he leaves. Give the candidate something for coming to your plant. You would be surprised how long those pens and stuff get used, and remembered.
- Information packets. Put a copy of the company’s catalog in a packet. along with a sheet with everybody’s name, phone # and email address that the candidate is going to meet. Chances are that, in the rush of things, the candidate won’t remember everything. Make sure that everybody’s business cards are in the packet, as well as the contact info for sales. Remember that today’s candidate may be tomorrow’s customer.
Most companies will work very hard to develop their brand and yet turn right around and run prospective employees through a process that’s just torturing them. What they don’t see is that they take the good will, the value that they want to provide to customers, the sales opportunities they are trying to create and potentially flush them down with every rejection. The applicant will accept that the interview process won’t work out. what they find hard to stomach is an outfit that treated them like some low order life form. They will remember that and as things go forward, the jobs they get, the promotions they will be constantly making recommendations against you, purchase from other vendors or suggest alternatives. A little good will on your part goes a long way. Always be selling.