Even It Up!

Shifting the balance for jobseekers

10 Things Jobseekers Hate About You

with 5 comments

To anyone who is thinking about employing someone in the New Year.

We thought it might be really handy to give you a checklist that tells you exactly what jobseekers hate in the whole looking-for-a-job process.  If you take note of these things,  and do something about them, you will end up on the Even It Up! website as a wonderful recruiter instead of a poor one.  (If you don’t know why this is important, read our post on employer branding)

10 Things Jobseekers Hate About You:

1.   Advertising (online or otherwise) contains little  information about the role.

The more information the job ad contains, the better it is for the jobseeker (and the employer brand).  Minimum information required is salary (don’t just put salary grades – it doesn’t mean anything to outsiders!); description of the organisation culture (or values statement); description of the leadership; overview of the role and how it links to mission, vision and goals; reporting lines; contact person’s full details; application process and timeline.  This should all be in plain English!  We love this advice from the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission to employers here.

2.   Answering huge amounts of selection criteria.

Even It Up! thinks that answering anything over and above 8-10 criteria is overkill.  You, the recruiting organisation, need to think carefully about the skills and competencies needed to do the job well, and that should be the basis of your job information description.  Ask yourself: are you looking to see how well people responds to the criteria, or how well they will be able to do the job?  And these are not necessarily the same thing!  Check out what the Australian National Audit Office has to say about this issue here.

3.   Having to submit more documents than a passport application.

Many applications require a resume; a cover letter; response to selection criteria; signed declaration of some sort; academic qualifications; police check, portfolio pieces… the list goes on.  From the jobseeker’s perspective, this is quite a bit of information to get together (and can be quite expensive to photocopy, or time-consuming if needed to be signed by a JP).  Even It Up! recommends that only the bare essentials be required before interview (i.e. first three documents listed).  Surely the rest can be garnered at interview stage?

4.   Having to complete tasks that could easily be verified via a portfolio, track record and/or qualifications.

This is a pet hate of Even It Up!  If a jobseeker has excellent qualifications, decent academic transcript and a proven track record, why do recruiters insist on making them “prove” they can do the job?  Surely the aforementioned is sufficient?  What is going on in those organisations that they don’t trust jobseekers?  Which leads to our next point.

5.   A panel interview that contains no one who has expertise in the area of the position being sought.

There is nothing worse than being interviewed for a position by someone who has no idea about what it means to actually do the job.  It happens more often than not, and means the hiring process is not efficient.  It means that the jobseeker’s claims of competence can not be effectively ascertained, and the jobseeker may be put in the position of being asked to explain aspects of the role (and their approach to it) that should need no explanation.  Highly ineffective approach.   Actually,  we’d like to see is the panel interview gotten rid of altogether – make one (properly trained) person responsible for the hire.  

6.  If interview tasks are required (see Point 4 above), not being reimbursed for the time taken to complete them.

Another  Even It Up! pet hate!  We feel that recruiting organisations would be much less likely to ask jobseekers to do interview tasks if they had to reimburse them for the amount of time take to put them together.  We are not averse to a small presentation where a jobseeker gets to showcase their skills and suitability for the role, but when it’s two or three items, well that’s a different story.  It’s more about power than performance.

7.  Trick, stupid or irrelevant questions in interviews.

These prove nothing except that the recruiting organisation is anything but good at recruiting.   We’ve heard all the rhetoric about behavioural questions being the best indicator of a jobseeker’s future actions.  And yes, that’s probably true to a certain extent.  But everyone knows that people antcipate these types of questions and practise responses.  At Even It Up! , we are firm believers in a quaint, old-fashioned method called Getting to know people by making them feel comfortable.  That’s when you are more likely to get an indication of what they are really like.  And if you are that unsure, get them to do a personlity test… something along the lines of Myers Briggs… although remember that this is an indicator only!

8.   ”Formal” interviews that are more about the interviewer than the jobseeker.

Formal interviews that “level the playing field” are really only in place to manage the risk of a bad hire for the organisation.  It is thought that having a controlled environment (same questions, same interviewers, same position) will allow interviewers to make an objective decision about a hire.  Logic dictates that this is not the case, because what can’t be controlled is the candidate!  And often those who make the hiring decision are not trained (see post [and comments] Foolproof Recruting).  In Winter 2006, The Journal for Quality & Participation released some very interesting statistics about the hiring failure rate:

How often do organizations experience bad hires? A recentlypublished, three-year study of new hire success rates demonstrated that it happens frequently. Conducted by Leadership IQ, a Washington-based research firm, this study surveyed more than 5,000 hiring managers from 312 organizations involved in more than 20,000 new hire events. Some 46% of those 20,000 new hires failed within the first 18 months. Root cause analysis revealed that a mere 11% of those failures were due to a lack of technical or professional competence. The lion’s share of failed hires were linked to softer issues, such as a lack of coachability (26%), low levels of emotional intelligence (23%), motivation problems (15%), and temperament issues (17%). With success rates not far better than a coin flip, there are clearly
areas of competency that have not been successfully investigated through the interview process,
“But coachability; emotional intelligence, motivation, and temperament are much more predictive of a new hires’ success or failure. Do technical skills really matter if the employee isn’t open to improving alienates their co-workers, lacks drive, and has the wrong personality for the job?”
-Mark Murphy, CEO Leadership IQ

We particularly like the reminder from the Australian National Audit Office (on a review of Public Service Recruitment) t0:

4. Dispel unhelpful beliefs and assumptions.

Panel members continue to hold questionable beliefs that are not based on evidence, are unfair to applicants, and prejudice the assessment. Examples of such beliefs are: treating people fairly means treating them the same; applicants who don’t write to selection criteria shouldn’t get short listed; interviews are a memory test and no help should be given to applicants even if the questions asked are incomprehensible; applicants who don’t call the contact officer demonstrate lack of initiative.

Well said, we say!

9.  Checking references, then not being offered the role.

There is nothing more embarassing than  explaining to referees that the third degree they were given about you didn’t pay off, and you weren’t offered the position.  One interviewer told Even It Up! that reference checking “was all part of the process”.  We disagree and think that if this is the case, there is something wrong with the process, and the interviewer has completely lost sight of what reference checking is actually for.  We strongly believe that recruiters should only check references if they are 100% convinced that they are going to be hiring that particular person.  It’s just a waste of time (and quite humiliating for the applicant) otherwise.  Not to mention disrespectful of the person providing the reference, who often has to take time out of their busy day to “go through the process”.  The University of Wollongong has an interesting policy paper on reference checking, which states on P12 (among other things) that:

Of the 10 or so studies reporting validity data, their findings generally show that the relationships between reference ratings and measures of employee success (performance ratings and turnover) are low to moderate at best.

10.  Being advised by email if unsuccessful.

While we are not saying that email correspondence in and of itself is bad, what we are saying is that if a candidate actually meets with you in an interview, particularly if they get to second interview stage, then you owe it to them to personalise any communication you have with them.  Don’t send them an email telling them they were unsuccessful.  This is gutless and disrespectful and will not do your brand any good.   Jobseekers value feedback, so when you call (second preference: write a letter) let them know why they were unsuccessful.  And don’t say that you don’t really have a reason.  That’s just not good enough.

And here’s a bonus couple of Things:

11.  Having to go through a recruitment company.

While featuring at No. 11, overwhelming feedback shows that this is one of the Things that jobseekers hate the most. And it seems most people – employers and employees alike –  just don’t like dealing with recruitment companies.  It adds an extra layer to a process that is already fraught with uncertainty.  People would much rather deal direct with the company who is recruiting.   We did find some empirical evidence backing us up – a 2004 report by the Victorian Human Rights Commission into EO practices and recruitment companies.  Here are just some of the comments (P 12):

“We try and avoid the recruitment agencies simply because of we’ve had our fingers burnt by a number of them on a number of occasions, and (are) just getting sick and tired of what we see as basically a half baked service. I mean you used to get CV’s dropped on your lap and they’d say, ‘Here’s a CV, what do you think, give us 15% of this person’s salary’, (the) greatest rip offs inAustralian industry.”

“They (management) prefer that we do all the recruitment ourselves, and to be honest we get a better result when we do.”

So our question is: if most jobseekers hate dealing with them, and employers don’t feel they get a good return on investment, why are they still around?

12.  Silence

A couple of scenarios.  You’ve sent in your letter of application and resume.  No response.  Or, you did get a response and were called in for an interview… weeks go past and nothing, nada, zip in the way of an update – either one way or another.  This is the height of rudeness and disrespect!  While we said that we didn’t like emails, on this occasion, we think it is perfectly ok to send out something to let jobseekers know what’s going on.  Communication, people, it’s the essence of maintaining a strong employer branding!


5 Responses

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  1. I read this, trying to be objective, but honestly, aren’t
    you simply “dumbing down” the process? It IS hard to get a great
    position, but it sure shouldn’t be EASY IMO. You do come across as
    whiney, friend, like someone who simply cannot be bothered to write
    to topic, call back, etc. I sure wouldn’t hire someone like that,
    since it speaks directly both to ability and motivation. Whatever
    job it is, both of those attributes are key.


    January 5, 2011 at 1:56 am

  2. […] this blog and has visited the Even It Up! website knows very well what these are.  If you are new, here is an example).  The organisation is not fulfilling their part of the bargain!  And, interestingly, this is […]

  3. As you know I completely disagree with you on number 8 – I’ll have to run my “recruitment and selection training” for you to fully understand the benefits that this practice brings to the recruitment practice (when it’s performed well)…as you’re not going to believe me otherwise! May be I could write an article for the site explaining the process so that candidates understand it better?

    But otherwise I completely agree with all other points….I’d even go so far as to suggest that government agencies should get rid of selection criteria….SA Water did it, so why can’t the others?


    January 5, 2009 at 1:52 pm

  4. Thanks Tara. It’s good to know that our appraisal of the recruitment process is right on the money. People have HUGE trust issues with headhunters… it is so difficult finding one who is ethical. If there are any out there, let us know so we can let others know!


    January 5, 2009 at 10:21 am

  5. I hear you! The panel interviews are typically nothing but a chance to get a general concensus on the candidates ability to handle stress, how they communicate and how well they think you would fit into their corporate culture…and less about your qualifications. I would say it is a safe bet in most cases that if you get to this stage, you have passed the initial phase and are now a finalist!

    And I completely agree about avoiding headhunting companies – I was a headhunter and unless you use one you have used many times and trust fully, they can truly do more harm than good! I talk about this in my Secrets of a Headhunter on my site!

    Thanks for the post!

    Tara Gowland

    Tara Gowland

    January 4, 2009 at 9:52 pm

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