Companies get a lot of flak these days for setting up processes that create a burdensome candidate experience. For example, no one likes to spend 20-30 minutes filling out an online application template that routes you to the company’s Applicant Tracking System (ATS), where you might receive a “Your application was received” email if you’re lucky.
But what many job seekers don’t understand is that the Internet is a double-edged sword for companies. On the one hand, companies from around the globe are connecting with talent that wouldn’t have been possible even a decade ago. On the other hand, nothing is easier than a candidate clicking the “Apply Now” button on LinkedIn without really reading the job description and randomly applying to multiple positions, thinking “Who knows, maybe they’ll call me for an interview.”
Companies that are posting positions on LinkedIn, job boards, or on their company sites are serious about filling these positions now or in the future. Talent acquisition is a labor-intensive process, and nothing is more frustrating to a recruiter than connecting with a candidate who wasn’t all that serious in the first place.
“Oh, the position is based in another state?” Yup, just as the advertisement stated!
“It requires a 12-month contract?” Again, in the job posting.
“It’s a sales position? But my background is marketing.” Then why did you apply?
Nothing makes a recruiter’s heart sink faster than realizing that a candidate wasn’t really looking for their opportunity but was simply pressing “Apply Now” like a mindless robot. Now, why do candidates apply for so many jobs without truly doing their due diligence?
You’re Desperate. You’ve been out of a job for a while and you’re willing to take anything. However, your desperation will be all the more obvious when you cut and paste the cover letter that you’ve used to apply for every job from cashier at a gas station to business development at the hottest start-up. These cover letters are so worn that you often forget to even change the name of the company you are applying for. Recruiters can smell a desperate candidate a mile away and won’t contact you.
You’re Feeling out the Market. You’ve settled into a decent position and want to see how your resumé ranks in the current marketplace. Can your current resumé and cover letter generate any nibbles from a recruiter? Let me be clear as an HR Manager: there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. In fact, being presently employed will be reassuring to a hiring manager; it will also give a recruiter a sigh of relief, as they may know that their internal hiring process is lengthy. When bills are due, some job seekers just can’t wait for a company to get its act together and produce an employment offer. Testing the market to determine how you rank and to see if you can get a better offer is how many candidates end up moving on to higher paying jobs.
You’re Applying “Just in Case” for the Future. It’s no secret that nowadays a successful job search takes much longer than it used to. The higher the salary, the better the title; this translates into a hiring process that could take months with one company that really wants to hire you. Gone are the days of one or two interviews. In today’s competitive jobs environment, companies are increasingly making candidates tap dance and dazzle. Given that it could easily take 4-6 months for one application to turn into an actual position, some job seekers are constantly in hunting mode, which may be the best strategy of all.
So, what is the one thing that a candidate should never do? Don’t lead on a recruiter. You’ll end up not only wasting their time, but you may be blacklisted from other positions in the future. And although it seems counterintuitive to think that competitors would share information about candidates, you’d be surprised.
At a certain stage, you have to decide whether or not you intend to engage with a company’s interview/hiring process after they’ve expressed a potential interest. Let me be clear: receiving any kind of response from a company (“Thanks for sending us your resume. I’d love to set up a Skype chat with you.”) Indicates that you’ve passed the initial hurdle and they want to speak with you. What it does NOT mean, however, is that you are guaranteed a job. Sometimes you may sparkle on paper but then a deep dive by a recruiter will show that your skills aren’t a good fit for the position, or that the company culture is too different from what you’re used to.
I recently shortlisted about 50 candidates to attend a panel interview session. Of the 50 that I invited, about 20 RSVP’d their attendance. One day before one of the sessions, a candidate called to tell me that he’d been assigned a last-minute work project and asked if he could switch his interview date to the second session. No problem, I said. Then, on his appointed interview date, he never showed up, called or emailed.
Another candidate emailed to ask if she could change her interview date due to an “urgent family situation.” Again, no problem. When she didn’t show up, I called the number on her resumé. “But today is Monday,” she said. “Indeed, it is.” “But I thought the interview was for Wednesday.” Buh-bye.
Both candidates had probably 1) applied for our position on a whim without real strategic insight or 2) applied at a time when they really “needed” a job but then their situation had changed. Again, either situation is acceptable. At the end of the day, companies hold all the cards when it comes to the hiring process. Many companies post positions in order to “pipeline” qualified candidates for future hiring quarters that may be months away! Job applicants owe it to themselves as “businesses of one” to be just as strategic as these companies and get their names and resumés in front of the right people. But if and when your situation changes, you need to be upfront. Don’t burn any bridges. Believe me, recruiters have seen it all. When you’ve decided not to pursue an opportunity, an email like this does the trick:
“Thank you so much for contacting me about the opportunity I applied for a few weeks ago. ABC Corporation is a company I’ve admired for many years, and hearing from you really makes my day! I need to be honest and inform you that my situation has changed since I initially applied. I’ve recently had a performance review with my manager and have decided to stay with my current employer for the time being. Please let me know if you’d like me to refer any candidates to you, however, as an ex-colleague of mine may be interested in this opportunity.”
The example above is so, so simple. There’s not a company in the world that wouldn’t understand this candidate’s rationale. It shows that you are straightforward and “own” your career. Perhaps most importantly, it doesn’t put you on a company’s blacklist for standing up an interviewer or failing to respond to an email.
Companies are talking to dozens of candidates for a single job posting. As a qualified candidate, you have every right to present your qualifications to “see” what will happen. How many times have you heard of someone blindly applying to a company and ending up with a great position and package or getting a great job with the same firm several months later? It happens all the time.
So the next time you sigh and grunt about having to jump through a million hoops in order to be considered for a job, try thinking about it from the employer’s side, which is cluttered with possibly thousands of “just looking” applicants from India to Indiana and everywhere in between!
Glen L. Loveland has spent the past seven years working in HR in China. He’s worked for Pearson plc, The Walt Disney Company and China Central Television. Connect with him on LinkedIn
Originally posted on linked in by:Glen L. Loveland
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