Jurassic World: Candidates Loose in the Theme Park

jurassic-world-chris-pratt-dinosaur-whispererAmidst all the information we read and see about the death of the resume and candidates being able to apply with the one-click sharing of a social profile here in Jurassic the real World job seekers encounter some decidedly archaic practices.

A friend recently alerted me to an organization’s career site and encouraged me to click the “Apply Online” button.
Doing so brought up a non-fillable 4 page PDF that needed to be printed out and completed with a pen. Or a typewriter I imagine; if anyone can actually find a typewriter in 2015.

I decided it might be fun to test this out to see if, perhaps, it might be a shorter or more pleasant process than some of the actual online applications with which employers torture applicants.

It was not.

Once I moved past the basics (name, address, phone, email address) I was asked for:

  • Spouse’s name
  • Spouse’s Employer and Occupation
  • If I own my home or rent
  • The year and make of my car
  • If I financed my education and, if so, what percent
  • Hobbies, interests and sports
  • My current (employer-provided) benefits and how much I contribute to the cost
  • How many scheduled days of work (not vacation) I have missed in the past 2 years
  • My educational goals for the next 5 years
  • 3 things I would change at my current job
  • My greatest strength
  • My greatest weakness
  • The primary reason I’ve accepted positions in the past and what must be offered to motivate a career change
  • 3 adjectives that describe me   –    (1) Annoyed (2) With (3) This
  • Words-per-minute speeds for typing, shorthand and 10-Key
  • Other companies with whom I have interviewed (space for five)
  • Other resumes I have mailed (space for five)

Whew.

Look, I’m not trying to shame this particular company. Well…maybe a little; although you notice I’m not naming names. I will, however, let you know that this team of recruiters touts its specialized and comprehensive recruiting and screening process. For, believe it or not, technical positions.

But this, my friends, is the reality for numerous job seekers in small towns and big cities the world over.

When I get to contemplating such things I wonder why some organizations and recruiting teams continue to operate in such a manner?

Are they not paying any attention to research, insight and trends to get an understanding of how job seekers expect to apply for jobs in the year 2015? Do they not realize there are numerous inexpensive and easy to use cloud-based Applicant Tracking Systems in the market that will allow them to ditch the PDF application form? Do they honestly think it’s wise to gather, on an ‘official’ document, a candidate’s marital status? Do they even worry about the potentially stellar candidates who are dropping off as soon as they click “Apply Online” and are faced with this monstrosity of an application?

Do they just…not care?

So many questions. So many mysteries.

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The Most Boring Answers to the Question “What Does HR Do?”

bored at workI was poking around the internet recently and, as inevitably happens, I fell down a rabbit hole. It started with a review of numerous HR job postings which are always amusing; is there seriously a human being out there who craves the job title Human Resources Point Person?  Then I began to gather the various and myriad answers supplied by business advisors, consultants, and lawyers when they respond to the query “why do we need an HR staff? What will they do?”

So, because I care, I have brought together some of the absolutely most BORING “things that HR people do.”

  • implement absence management (sickness) programs to control costs
  • keep internal HR policies and employee handbooks up to date
  • provide the necessary supporting paperwork for the recruitment process
  • enter employee data into the payroll system
  • order computers
  • manage employee lockers
  • prepare documents for local authorities
  • compile and type reports from employment records
  • record supervisory reports on ability (…what does this even mean????)

As one author on Inc. so lovingly pointed out “people often confuse the terms office manager and HR manager.” Well…yeah. If that’s the kind of stuff HR does.

But…let’s hold on a minute.

I have, over the course of my illustrious HR career, done every one of those things. With the exception of “record supervisory reports on ability” Seriously…wtf is that?

Granted, the “compiling and typing of reports from employment records” was circa 1991 when, believe it or not, we had stacks of paper and used typewriters to put #HRData into some sort of format pretty enough to distribute to the C-Suite. Yup; as an exempt HR professional I stored data in Lotus 1-2-3. ran some additional manual calculations, and then prepared monthly, quarterly and annual reports on an honest-to-baby-Jesus typewriter.

I’ve ordered computers and managed locker inventory (across a campus no less) while holding a Director role. Locker inventory was actually somewhat entertaining. On an annual basis, after posting notices stating “unclaimed and unassigned lockers, even if they have locks, will be opened by the HR/Security Department on xx date,” my team got to go on a locker opening adventure. Wielding bolt cutters in a 21st century nod to Carrie Nation we descended upon both the women’s and men’s locker rooms in a maniacal pre-menopausal cleaning frenzy. Smelly shoes, half-used sticks of deodorant, crusty dinner plates and many (many!) bags of weed were recovered and relegated to the trash bins.

Fun times.

Boring? Perhaps. Was it changing the world of work? Was it innovative and disruptive and generating calculable ROI? Probably not. But it had to be done so I rallied the troops and we did it.

And the next day I still sat in the weekly Executive Leadership team meeting. I still attended the quarterly meetings of the Board of Directors and sat on the Board’s Personnel Committee. I still had P & L responsibility and financial objectives I had to meet in alignment with the numerous people/talent related goals outlined in the strategic plan for which I was accountable not only to the CEO but also to the Board.

Were we, as an HR team, agile, data-driven and business integrated? You bet.

Sometimes though, especially in small/mid-sized businesses, shit just needs to get done. Sometimes she who sports the moniker “HR Manager” still has to do the “Office Manager” duties.

Is it necessary? It often is.

Is it boring? Never.

Plus you may get to flush a huge bag of herbal refreshment down the toilet. High fun times indeed.

 

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The Harsh Reality: Sometimes HR Has to Talk about Sex

50 Shades of HRThis week brings the much-anticipated (well, in some quarters) release of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” movie. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 4 years you’re likely aware that the Fifty Shades trilogy has sold over 100 million copies worldwide. According to Boxoffice.com, the movie is forecast to make $89 million in the US and Canada over the upcoming weekend and it’s been reported that close to 50% of advance ticket sales in the US have been from fans under the age of 30; two-thirds of them are women.

And next Monday morning these moviegoers will flock back to their offices, gather around the water cooler or huddle in cubicles, and give a blow-by-blow discuss flogging, paddling and shackles with co-workers. Amidst all the breathless (no doubt) titillation, I can guarantee you there will also be employees who are offended and place a call to the HR Department. Most human resources practitioners are accustomed to having conversations about FMLA, WC, ADA, OSHA and LTD … but not so much BDSM.

This all got me thinking about the “Seinfeld” case. Who remembers that one?

In 1993, Miller Brewing Co. fired Jerold Mackenzie, an executive, for an incident that arose from his discussion of the show with a female colleague. Mackenzie, relaying the story line from an episode, explained that Jerry was unable to recall a woman’s name that was described as rhyming with a part of the female anatomy (Mulva? Gipple?). Mackenzie, embarrassed to tell his colleague Patricia Best what the character’s name (Dolores!) rhymed with, ended up showing her the word in a dictionary.

She was offended.

Mackenzie, after being fired for sexual harassment, sued Miller Brewing Co. and Patricia Best. The jury (10 women, 2 men) ruled for Mackenzie and ordered Miller Brewing Co. to pay $26.5 million. The verdict was appealed and eventually the entire jury award was set aside. (note: the actual case focused on issues other than harassment – specifically Mackenzie’s lawyers argued that Miller deceived him for years and dubbed it “misrepresentation to induce continued employment”)

I’m not suggesting that HR Directors send out emails admonishing staff “not to wear leather” but perhaps it’s advisable to listen for excess talk about riding crops and bondage. It may be time to figure out, once and for all, if the cultural norms of one’s organization include language or visual displays that, well, might not meet grandma’s approval. As the lawyers and Supreme Court like to say, a hostile work environment is one that is “sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create an abusive working environment.” This means when you work in HR you need to watch out for that stuff. I’m not saying be a humorless prude…(lord no); don’t be like the HR lady I met at a recent conference who was upset that an attorney speaking-about-sexual-harrassment used anatomically correct words for body parts. Please don’t be like her.

I am saying that even though you may not find it easy to tell the guys on the loading dock to “knock it off,” sometimes you just have to do that. And you might have to use words you’ve picked up by reading “Fifty Shades Darker” in order to adequately convey your message.

Claims of a sexually charged hostile work environment are often not painted in black and white; sometimes they’re in shades of grey.

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image: classic HR swag via Cornerstone on Demand

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