From May, 2012

Is Your Job Search being Short Circuited by an Applicant Tracking System?

Is Your Job Search Being Short Circuited by an Applicant Tracking System?

Do you get a lot of email?  I sure do.  All the notifications from my Linkedin groups, blogs, Google alerts, not to mention unsolicited email I get makes my Inbox more obese everyday.  On average I probably receive 50+ emails daily which is on the low end for most people.  Every morning I download my emails and every morning 30 seconds after I do this I delete nearly 75% of the email I don’t need to see.  I do this because 75% of what I receive in my inbox I can quickly judge as irrelevant to my needs.

If you’re like me maybe you’ve thought about a tool  that could “automagically” filter out all the non-spam, but unimportant emails that would otherwise waste your valuable time and leave only the most valuable.  Sounds great right?

Unfortunately that’s what is automagically happening to a large number of candidates’ job applications..  HR professionals and corporate recruiters apply the same solution to filtering out your job application along with a whole bunch of the  50 or  more other candidates who applied for the same position.  Why do they do this?  Because in addition to the job opening to which you applied they are also recruiting for three other open positions and fifty or more candidates have applied to each one of those positions.  All together they have to analyze the resumes of hundreds of candidates across the four positions.

HR departments start with the premise that most applicants aren’t going to pass muster, much the same way I assume that most of the morning’s email is irrelevant.  But unlike my email, they employ an automated system to eliminate all the “unqualified” applicants.

An Applicant Tracking System (ATS)  is a software solution designed to help recruiting departments weed through hundreds if not thousands of job applicants.  An ATS goes into action the moment you apply to an organization’s online job posting.  In addition to decoding and qualifying the skills on your resume the ATS may ask you a series of screening questions.  If your resume doesn’t have the right keywords, or you do not answer the screening questions with the appropriate answers you could be eliminated from the process.  Thus a perfectly qualified candidate could be removed from the process.  The bad news is the time savings and costs savings benefits are well worth that risk to recruiters inundated with resumes.

Now you have serious problems.  Your car broke down, your kids need braces, your roof is leaking and your anniversary is approaching.  You need a job!  You want to believe that once you submit your resume that a kindly, wise person is on the other end, printing out your resume with passionate glee and feverishly telling all the people in his or her HR department that they need to ignore your mild lack of qualifications and take a chance on you.  The last thing you may want is that an emotionless HAL computer is on the other end removing you from consideration because you provided the wrong answer to a question during the application process.

So why do they use a Hal-like solution to eliminate even qualified candidates?  Here’s a very extreme example of the problem recruiters are experiencing.  In 2011 Procter and Gamble had one million applicants for their 2,000 open job positions.  Seventy-Five percent of them or 1,500,000 were not remotely qualified.  Imagine having to manually sift through all that paper?

So 500 people applied to each position and 499 of them didn’t get the job.  Many of them were eliminated from contention by a computer and not a hiring Yoda..  But what are these hiring professionals supposed to do?  They opened their inbox and in flooded 500 resumes of which 375 were no better than the ads you receive for Rogaine, Enzyte and Maxiderm.  By analogy, they start filtering out any resume containing the words “hair loss” and “erectile dysfunction” to get to the meat of what they really want to see…a good candidate!  Maybe a few good candidates got swept up in the wake of their deletions but what’s a little collateral damage compared to all that time savings?

The flood of all the unqualified resumes have ruined HR’s ability to individually evaluate and take your resume seriously just as all those junk emails have ruined your ability to take each email seriously each morning.  Yes, yes, I know you’re not an ad for male enhancement and maybe what you’re pitching is better than a treatment for hair loss, but HR can’t take that chance of reading for the thousandth time one more resume promising “maximum performance.”

There is a silver lining to all of this however.  ATS systems will keep your resume on file and will search for matching resumes later when a new position becomes available.  Who knows, maybe HAL will email you in the future with a new job opportunity.  I just hope you don’t delete his email!

Video Interviewing: 5 Things You Shouldn’t Fear!

I almost live and breath video interviewing and so for me understanding the benefits of this technology are as easy as understanding the health benefits of exercise.  But, like exercise, many people I have surveyed about implementing video interviewing are just as hesitant to get off the proverbial couch in order to better their hiring lives.   

We all know riding a bike for a mere 20 minutes a day is healthy.  Yet often people won’t engage in exercise if they perceive it might disrupt their normal routine or present more work for them even if the reward far outweighs the contributed effort.  For some,  accepting video interviewing is no different. 

For me it breaks down like this: 

Twenty minutes of bike riding = healthier heart, increased metabolism, lower weight, reduced blood pressure, more muscle tone, etc. 

Fifteen minute recorded video interview = more revealing interview, less scheduling hassles, reduced travel costs, greater collaboration, more informed hiring decision, faster time to hire, etc. 

So as you lay on the couch staring at your dusty bike and contemplate how to improve your hiring process, I want you to consider my 5 reasons why you shouldn’t fear the video interview. 

  1. Video Interviewing won’t screw up your existing hiring process!

Do you do phone interviews?  Simply replace your existing phone interviewing process with an automated video interviewing process.  Email the candidate a login and they can interview themselves on their time and you don’t have to deal with phone screen scheduling hassles.  Does that sound so hard?  If you don’t do phone interviews then screen them with video before they walk into your office so you know you’re not going to waste your time interviewing a bad candidate.

  1. Video interviewing isn’t going to cost you an arm and a leg!

Video interviewing can be every bit as affordable as phone screening.  When a candidate records an automated interview you eliminate the time and expense needed to phone screen them plus you can compare their results to other candidates and forward to colleagues.

  1. Video interviews won’t get you sued for discrimination!

Video interviews don’t discriminate, people discriminate.  Discrimination is discrimination, whether during a video interview or during the face to face.  The problem is not when in the hiring process you identify a candidate’s race, gender, age and ethnicity.  The issue is what you do with that information.  For all these reasons the EEOC allows video interviewing in the hiring process. Not only that but the recorded video interview actually provides a record of your non-discriminatory practices. 

  1. Video interviewing won’t create more work for you!

Actually with automated video interviewing all you need do is email the candidate a set of login instructions and they do the rest.  Upon completion you can quickly screen out three poor candidates in the time it would take you to interview one face-to-face.  Plus you can share the recorded interview with colleagues who couldn’t attend the first interview.  Sounds like less work for everyone if you ask me.

  1. Video interviewing won’t take your job!

The point isn’t that your job will be less demanding.  In the same amount of time you spend filling a position today, with video interviewing you’ll be able to evaluate more candidates thereby increasing the odds of finding that elusive “best-fit” employee.  Doesn’t this make sense particularly give the large number of job candidates out there?.  You’ll be doing just as much work, only now you can shine like a star while doing it. 

So brush those potato chip crumbs off your chest, hop off the couch, and jump onto your bike!  After you take care of yourself, take care of your hiring process!  Is it as healthy as it could be?

Candidates: Don’t Take a Job because it Matches Your Qualifications!

This statement may raise a couple of eyebrows, especially considering that to suggest hiring someone on the basis of anything but their qualifications seems well…discriminatory.  Since 1987 workplace discrimination claims filed with the EEOC have increased by 50% and many have argued that to right the ship organizations must hire on qualifications alone.  Some argue that hiring for cultural fit helps an organization, while others argue that hiring for cultural fit hurts the organization and is unfair to qualified candidates.  While opposing parties — mostly HR professionals, recruiters and hiring managers — butt heads about who’s right, another party has yet to be given significant consideration and that’s the candidate.

We don’t really need to ask the candidate what they want, do we?

Obviously candidates all want to be hired not on the basis of their color, age, ethnicity, weight, etc. but rather on their qualifications alone.  Candidates usually don’t even consider “cultural fit” when evaluating a position.  That is until….

….they secure a job with an organization into which they don’t fit.  With such high unemployment all that matters to the candidate is salary and “do I get the job” but after they are hired many will discover that cultural fit really does matter.  Now some may argue that “cultural fit” is just another word for discrimination and in many instances I wouldn’t argue with them.  Indeed thousands of qualified and pleasant candidates are turned down yearly because of that lame excuse, “they just don’t fit in to our culture” but what happens when the candidate is hired and they truly don’t fit in culturally?

The fact is that corporate cultures vary widely and candidates should be cautious before jumping on board with a new organization.  I have read recently several accounts from candidates about how they did not fit in with their new co-workers.  In one account the employee looked forward, upon getting hired, to working with their much older colleagues and gaining their experience.  To her dismay her colleagues constantly discussed their grandchildren, physical ailments and what they would do when they retired.  As a result the candidate found little common ground with her co-workers.  Now sure maybe this candidate should just get over it but maybe not.

A second candidate explained they were offered a job on the basis of their education and qualifications yet left after just 6 months.  They did not fit in culturally with the organization and so felt such loneliness at work that they couldn’t bear the environment for forty hours a week.

Examining this example, arguing that cultural fit doesn’t matter is difficult given that replacing a candidate taxes the organization’s time and money.

If you are a sales person, for instance, who likes to travel constantly, do you want to be hired on the basis of your qualifications by an organization who wants you to ride a phone all day in your cubicle?  Of course you don’t!

While getting a job simply because you are the most qualified candidate may seem ideal, you run the risk of jumping into an organization that doesn’t fit your ideals nor maximize your strengths.  Poor hiring fit is similar to being a Meg Ryan, rom-com type of person forced to watch a marathon of Freddy Krueger and Jason flicks.  Sure you love movies but not all are to your taste and many will make you want to get up and leave before the end.

Would You Want to Work for You? The Dangers of Mirror Image Hiring!

I recently started a discussion on Linkedin regarding the prevalence of discrimination in the workplace which branched off, as discussions tend to, into a conversation about cultural fit and mirror image hiring.  I have already discussed the usage of “cultural fit” in hiring so I want to tackle what a few labeled as “Mirror Image” hiring.   

Mirror image hiring operates along the same lines as hiring job candidates for cultural fit.  The principal is based on the assumption that if I have a group of employees contributing to the success of my company then surely all future employees I hire should mirror my attributes and those of my successful employees.  If you’re the boss you look into the mirror with your winning smile and say with a sparkle on your tooth, “You’re the best!  You are who I want to hire for this organization!”   

Makes sense right?  If your employees think like one another and share the same successful attributes then your organization should have fewer conflicts, employee satisfaction should be high and as a result your turnover should be low.  As I write this I’m almost buying into this theory.   

Now, as I like to say, here’s the rub.  Does hiring “me” cross the line into discrimination?  I’m white, fairly fit, and despite my thinning hair, am not yet middle aged.  Should I hire only guys my age and eliminate women, minorities, the couch potato and the elderly with whom I might not have much in common?  As an employer wouldn’t I run the risk of eliminating some great candidates who don’t fit my behavioral profile?   

Not only that but will my organization really make it to the next level if I’m surrounded by “Yes” men who refuse to challenge my directives or at the very least don’t propose fresh ideas from a perspective I had not considered?  A team composed of varying people that may offer differing points of view can create a breeding ground of innovative ideas. 

I’m reminded of a recruiting assignment for a software company on which I worked.  We behaviorally profiled the President, Sales VP and Sales Manager.  All three men were extremely bold, assertive, disciplined, and tenacious and guess what, they wanted all their sales people to have the same attributes.  Do you think all these bold, assertive and tenacious men got along?  No!  The exceptionally bold, assertive, and tenacious President managed his exceptionally bold, assertive, and tenacious people in a manner that he himself would not want to be managed.  As a result most of the salespeople quit within 90 days.   

As you know the cost of replacing a salesperson can often be 2-3 times that salesperson’s salary so the company’s recruiting strategy was disastrous.  In essence the boss tried to hire himself not understanding that he would not want to work for himself. 

So while mirror image hiring may sound like a keen idea, you run the risk of discrimination, idea stagnation, and people walking out on you.