During the last couple of months, I’ve been helping two friends in their attempts to find gainful employment and seeing the HR roadblocks they are running into along the way.
Both are attorneys, with excellent work history, references, and a clear cut picture of what they can provide to an organization. When I started helping them out, I was impressed with how quickly each of them updated their resumes, polished their LinkedIn profile, and amped up their networking activities. I knew it would take them a while to find a job, as they each are in the high-earner bracket, but I figured it wouldn’t be too terribly difficult for them to at least start getting some interviews.
Boy was I wrong.
Last week I found myself saying, “I hate HR,” after hearing about yet another roadblock they experienced. I’ve always been annoyed with people who try to go around HR directly to the source, but now I understand why they do it.
It’s been hard not to get defensive with them when they complain:
• “Why haven’t I heard anything since I turned in my resume?” Because the recruiter probably has over 300 resumes for the job and is still wading through them.
• “If they called me and asked me to apply for the position, shouldn’t I be a shoe-in?” Maybe. Or it could be that one person in the organization recommended you, but that doesn’t mean the others are on board.
• “I meet 8 out of the 10 criteria, what else do they want?” Maybe, in this market, maybe 10 out of 10? Job descriptions used to describe the ‘ideal’ candidate and these days, a lot of companies are willing to wait to find that person.
One of the most painful parts of this process for me has been recognizing my own behaviors in almost every scenario. Despite good intentions, almost everything my friends complained about HR doing has been something that I’ve done at one time or another.
It’s been a great reminder for me that every applicant who comes through my door has friends, family and other people invested in them finding work. It doesn’t matter to them that we don’t have an opening, that their friend’s cover letter had 12 typos and spelled my company name wrong, or that their wife arrived ten minutes late for our interview because she got lost.
All they hear about is how I made their loved one feel during the process. Did I call for the phone interview when I said I would? Did I get back to them and let them know where we stood in the process? Did I treat the person in a way that would make them want to work for our company? Did I acknowledge their value and what they had to contribute, even if it wasn’t exactly what we were looking for?
It’s been a good wake-up call for me to start looking at how our applicants feel during every step of the process.
How about you?
What roadblocks in your applicant process you can shift today?
Andrea Ballard, SPHR, is the Director of Human Resources at Peterson Sullivan LLP, a mid-sized, regional public accounting firm in Seattle, Washington with 100 employees.
She has over 15 years of HR experience in professional services organizations and brings a humorous, common sense perspective to the business of HR.
Andrea has a Bachelor's Degree in Statistics from Louisiana State University and is recognized as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) by the Society of Human Resources Management.
She serves on Employee Relations Panel of National SHRM and the Board of the Seattle chapter of SHRM. She is a contributor to the blog, Women of HR.