If hiring was fair, companies would always choose the most qualified candidate. In the reality of job search, the most qualified candidate may not even get an interview. Life isn’t fair – why should we expect hiring to be fair?
Ask candidates if hiring is fair and you’ll likely hear stories about how they were a perfect candidate for a position and didn’t even get an interview. Many express anger towards hiring companies or recruiters because of the unfairness of it all.
The reality is, like it or not, few hiring processes are fair … and few companies hire the most qualified candidates. For instance, according to 2 separate studies by Harvard and the University of Toledo, 98% of hiring managers make their hiring decisions within the first few seconds of an interview, spending the rest of the time justifying their “gut feel” decisions (see “Interview in a Snap“ at http://www.recareered.com/blog/2010/05/21/interview-in-a-snap-best-of-recareered/). This isn’t fair – it’s reality.
Talk to HR professionals and recruiters to see if they feel their job is to hire the most qualified candidates. If they are honest with you, you’ll understand that their job is to find a limited number of candidates who meet minimum criteria quickly and efficiently. It’s the hiring manager’s job to choose which of these candidates is the best for the job and team.
Talk to hiring managers and you’ll likely hear that they are primarily interested in candidates who have already solved similar problems to the ones they face today. Hiring managers are looking for employees who require little training or ramp-up and who will work well within their team. You’re more likely to hear things like “hit the ground running”, “self-starter”, “team player”, and “immediate impact” – you’re much less likely to hear “most qualified”.
In an increasing number of companies, finalists must also pass credit, drug and criminal screening before getting a job offer. With these companies, if the most qualified candidate had credit problems due to a divorce, past unemployment, or major family medical issues it’s often impossible to waive these requirements – especially if the hiring manager also liked the backup candidate.
Is it any wonder that candidates feel the process isn’t fair? Is it any wonder why such a large percentage of new employees are considered “bad hires” by their companies, due to the dysfunctional hiring processes that even the most sophisticated companies employ?
How would your job search strategies change if you took the attitude that hiring is never fair?
Here are 5 Job Search Changes To Take Advantage Of Unfair Hiring Practices:
- Stop expecting that your resume will be found: This is sort of like a teenager sitting by the phone, waiting for it to ring. Instead, assume that your resume won’t be found, but that you have to go outside of the system. This means attacking the hidden job market, rather than using job boards to apply for jobs.
- Gain better information than your competition: Realize that job descriptions are often written months earlier, written to comply with all kinds of labor laws, and hide what they are really looking for behind paragraphs full of gobbly-gook (yes, that’s a technical term). Often the real hiring manager needs are very different than what’s on the job description, because things change, problems get solved, new problems arise, people come and go and the hiring manager’s own priorities change.
- Use Dirty Rotten Job Search methods: When the going gets tough … The tough find ways to gain an advantage. In job search, some of the best ways to gain an advantage is by having better information than your competitors. The more inside company information you have, the better chance you have to understand the hiring mangers needs. To learn more about “Dirty Rotten Job Search Secrets“ see http://www.recareered.com/blog/2010/12/03/dirty-rotten-job-search-secrets/.
- Understand HR’s real role: Depending on the situation, HR may have a few roles in the hiring process:
- Keeping it compliant and legal: One of HR’s biggest roles is to protect the employer from discrimination lawsuits and keep it in compliance with DOL and EEOC regulations. One of these regulations requires companies to centralize resume collection, use an objective screening process to select interviewees and keep compliance reports for government auditors. Translation: Keep resumes out of managers’ hands until after pre-screening.
- Keeping candidates away from hiring managers: Many managers only want to spend time with candidates they know meet minimum objectives – they’ve been overloaded with too many other responsibilities to pre-screen themselves. Also, keeping centralized control of candidates within HR helps keep the company compliant with EEOC/DOL regulations.
- Working with recruiters: Especially in larger companies, HR’s role can involve coordinating (and sometimes choosing) recruiters (it’s called Vendor Management). Some very large companies have vendor management contracts with one or a few recruiters that handle pre-screening, advertising, ATS, and sometimes preliminary phone and in-person interviews for all candidates. This means that recruiters who don’t have a Vendor Management contract (or subcontract) with the company are unlikely to get you in the door.
- Recruiting: If the company isn’t using Vendor Management for recruiting, it’s critical to know who does the detailed recruiting work for your specific position. Some companies do much of their recruiting for commodity positions – positions where the company hires many employees for similar positions within large teams (ex: sales, customer service, support, manufacturing, clerical, administrative). Most HR departments use specialty recruiters to help provide additional candidates for hard-to-find positions (including: certain technology, specialty accounting/finance roles, engineering or manufacturing specialty roles, hard to find management positions, clinical health care positions, positions/industries where candidates are in short supply).
- Providing diversity candidates: Like it or not, some job ads (job fairs are notorious for this) are used to collect diversity candidate resumes, selecting a few for interviews, even when the hiring manager already has picked favorite leading candidates. This is another way companies stay in compliance with EEOC laws and protect themselves from lawsuits. In reality, this practice is seldom fair for anyone, minority or not – but hiring isn’t fair, remember.
- Get ahead of the curve: For many positions (especially new positions), the hiring manager has been lobbying for approval long enough to have a short list of potential hires who are ahead of the curve. These candidates have a huge advantage because they had conversations with the hiring manager before the position was advertised. For openings to replace another employee, smart hiring managers have a short list of candidates they already know who are first choices (internal employees, past employees, friends, others who have networked to them, direct referrals from close friends, etc.). Targeted networking to reach specific contacts at specific target companies is the candidates best bet to get ahead of the curve. Random networking has poor odds of working today, due to employee referral bonus programs and resume centralization.
Please share your thoughts …
Candidates: Do you think hiring processes are fair? What can you do to take advantage of the unfairness?
Recruiters & HR: Do your clients hire the most qualified candidates, or do they look for something else?
Hiring managers: Be truthful here … do you hire the most qualified candidates? What do you really look for?-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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