The pandemic has taught companies that it’s vitally important to their brand and success to take good care of their workers. To their credit, top organizations have announced their plans for hybrid and remote-work options to offer employees flexible choices and the chance for a higher quality of life.
Now that we are in the midst of a post-pandemic war for talent, as the economy has sharply rebounded, the next challenge for corporations is to change the way they attract, recruit and treat people during the interview process.
Strike up a conversation with any job seeker and you’ll quickly hear a litany of complaints. Most people will share their horror stories, which are hard to believe, but ever so true. You’ll see them get agitated and angry just talking about the rude and dismissive treatment they’ve been subject to in their efforts to find work.
A positive outcome of the outbreak is that it’s become acceptable to openly and honestly talk about the mental and emotional health issues that people have dealt with during the past year and a half. Burnout, depression, stress, anxiety and feelings of isolation have been off the chart.
If you are involved with the hiring process, this is the time to tap into your empathetic nature and be part of the change that you’d like to see in the workplace. Here are some of the suggestions that I’ve gathered from interviews with well over 100 people who’ve searched for a job during the Covid-19 outbreak.
The Job Description
Don’t write unrealistic job descriptions that necessitate too many requirements that can’t reasonably be met by the overwhelming majority of potential applicants. While you may feel that this will cut down on unsuitable candidates applying, it actually has a deleterious effect. Strong, smart and appropriate candidates actually get intimidated by all of the demands on the advertisement and demure from applying. Counterintuitively, the ones who do submit their résumés tend to lack the requisite skills and don’t care. Mixing metaphors, they’re just shooting their shot, taking a Hail-Mary-pass approach.
Instead of coercing a person into completing a lengthy, glitchy and intrusive application, please keep the actual human being in mind and make it more simple. No one wants to spend half an hour filling out a long and boring online form when they can simply upload a résumé or their LinkedIn profile. Jumping through hoops irritates the best candidates. They view this as a bad omen of what’s to come. They’ll stop midway and seek out other companies that offer a more reasonable and accommodating experience. It’s critical to research the appropriate salary ranges for the role and not pick an arbitrary number or rely on what you happen to believe is the right number.
Job hunters have been loudly complaining about the disparity between the demands of the job and the salary offered. They say that the companies are still in an early 2020 mindset and haven’t readjusted to the new landscape. It’s now a hot job market. Top talent is in short supply and high demand. It’s imperative to gain a pulse of the job market before you write a job advertisement and price the salary of the position.
Don’t play hide and seek. Share the compensation up front. If the company and its representatives are vague about the salary, bonus, benefits, stock options and remuneration, it won’t end well. After 13 interviews conducted over three months, both sides will likely end up with a completely different perception of the offer. The company will assert that it’s fair and the applicant will be furious. They’ll say that this was a colossal waste of time and energy and the firm should’ve been honest right at the forefront of the process.
The Interview Process
In a fast-moving job market, you can’t expect candidates to wait around. There are plenty of other opportunities out there. When you ghost an applicant, you alienate them for life. They tell several friends, who pass it along to others and it hurts your reputation.
Acknowledge résumés when they are submitted. Tell the truth or at least don’t lie about things. Be honest about the job. If the boss has idiosyncrasies, you are better off sharing it up front. The candidate will find out once they become an employee. If there’s a big discrepancy between what was sold and reality, the employee will leave the first chance they get.
Set up reasonable interview times. It’s a power trip when you demand a person to show up for an interview with only hours or a day’s notice. It’s infuriating to job seekers when you show up late to an interview without any apologies—and they’re forced to grin and bear the humiliation.
It’s beyond rude when an interviewer cancels a meeting at the last minute. It’s even worse when they forget and are a no-show. Just as you want the technology to work right for candidates, hiring personnel need to ensure their mics and internet connectivity work well.
Be clear about who the candidate will meet. Share their titles and responsibilities. Explain why it’s necessary to speak with these folks. Give feedback to the candidate throughout the process, as it will help both the job seeker and the interviewers. If you sense that you’re way off with respect to compensation, make the necessary changes.
Treat job seekers with dignity and respect; they are people—not products. Lowballing isn’t an effective negotiation tactic, it ticks people off. There is no need for 14 interviews over a six-month time frame for a junior position. If a hiring manager can’t make a decision within a reasonable time, they shouldn’t be in that role. If a human resources person acts curt, dismissive or is on an ego trip, they should be relieved of their duties, as this is not the right job for them.
Recruiters—both internal and external—should fully understand the job that they are recruiting for. If they don’t understand it, let someone else handle the search if you won’t do the homework. Keep in close contact with the candidate. There shouldn’t be long gaps in between communications.
Some people are great for the job; however, they aren’t the best at selling themselves. Give them a chance. Otherwise, you end up with smooth talkers who can’t do the job and leave within a year or so after you finally figure out they played you.
You don’t need college and advanced degrees for many jobs. Corporate America has asked for fancy diplomas, so they can brag about how many employees are from elite Ivy League schools. Focus on substance not pedigrees.
It’s a dirty secret, but some companies collude with no-poaching agreements. This means you can be the best fit for the job, but the company you’re interviewing with has agreed to not take people from the firm you’re currently working at. You’d be smart to change this policy before you hear from regulators and lawyers.
What Will Happen
To succeed in this new, fast-growing, post-pandemic environment, businesses must offer flexible hybrid and remote-work options. They also need to treat job seekers with dignity, courtesy and respect. The companies that make a concerted effort to roll out the red carpet and cater to job candidates will be the winners in this battle. Word travels fast. The smart and empathetic companies will end up getting the best and brightest applicants, and they will greatly improve results at these forward-thinking organizations.
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