Advice for Hiring Managers, Recruiters, Companies, etc.

Last month I shared this on LinkedIn (it was a blog post here, too): Why the Job Market and Job Search Is Broken. My friend, Robert Merrill, is one of the smartest and coolest recruiters I know.  He responded to my article with this (open the comments):

What would you (anyone reading this) tell a company they should do in order to treat candidates more fairly without losing the humanity while still controlling for biases?

There are actually some very good ideas and suggestions in the comments.  I’ll share my very short response below… you should read the great ideas in the comments on the LinkedIn post.

My thoughts are simple: treat “candidates” with respect and dignity.  Communicate with them.  Be honest.  I think those things sum it up. Let me drill down a little:

Respect and dignity.  You are dealing with human beings. We hae to put on a good face for the interview, but in many situations, we’re totally stressed out.  Sure, we think we can do the job, or learn to do the job, but we’ve just jumped through a bunch of hoops that we aren’t used to jumping through. Whether we specialize in software development, customer service, manufacturing or whatever, we are not specialists in the job search. For most of us, this is out of our comfort zone.  Your systems are frustrating (for example, “upload your resume… and now fill out this form for 40 minutes so you can tell us what is in your resume”).  What is going to be a business decision to you could be life-altering to us.  Did you know that I have three months of savings left until I can’t pay my rent or mortgage?  Did you know I’ve borrowed all I can from family and friends, and I really have nowhere else to go?  I’m on the edge, and the way you are treating me makes it clear that this interview means an awful lot more to me than it does to you.  Oh yeah, did I mention I’m married with kids, and that adds a whole level of complexity to my situation?

I’m not saying you need to coddle me, and I’m not looking for a pity party, but please respect me as a human being, not just another candidate.

Communication.  You know what kind of communication I want?  Frequent or timely communication that is not vague! What if job seekers could get honest feedback on why they weren’t hired?  I know we never will, because of the lawyers.  There’s just no way around that one.  I get that.  But it sucks to feel like I absolutely won the interview, and I’m the right person for the job (I remember after one interview, I dreamed about what I would do my first week on the job – only to learn the position was fake and there was no job to be had), and then get a “we chose someone else.”  WHY?  What could I have done to have been the someone else?  If I did something bad, or annoying, let me know so I can work on it for next time, because really, no one else is letting me know right now.

I also want to know where we are at in the whole process.  Am I still a contender? Do I have a chance? Because typically what happens is I apply and hear nothing (until I get invited to the interview).  Or, we interview and I follow-up, but I hear nothing for weeks.  That is days and days of self-doubt, wondering, anxiety, etc. If I email you, will you please treat me like a human and reply, at least acknowledging that you got my email?

Honesty. This is a double-edged sword.  I want honest information (“the job is still open,” or “you didn’t get it because…”). I know you have to hold back some information because of confidentiality in the process, but can I know ANYTHING??  Holding back information can’t help me…. but I definitely acknowledge that giving it might hurt my feelings.  Kind of like how Simon Cowell hurts people’s feelings on American Idol.

I know, I sound like a crackpot that is high maintenance, and that I have my own issues I need to deal with.

I’m just honestly being the voice of the job seeker… the person I have met in St. Louis and Boston and Atlanta and Orlando and Seattle and Salt Lake and Silicon Valley and San Diego and Madison and Los Angeles… I’ve heard this plenty of times from others.  And I’ve experienced it myself.