PSA: One Candidate’s Experience

joe-strummer250Earlier this year, after 2 years of being a solopreneur running Silver Zebras, I realized that I missed being part of an organization. Correction; I REALLY missed being part of an organization.

Oh sure, being master of my domain (in the non Seinfeldian way) was great. I appreciated the short commute across the hallway each morning from bedroom to office. I totally dug not having to wear shoes or a bra or, let’s face it, pants. I kind of got off on the adrenaline charge when a calendar appointment would pop up “reminder: 15 minutes to video chat” and I realized I better at least put on make-up, earrings and something other than a worn out hoodie so I would look presentable. I loved a quick afternoon nap with the dogs (Libby, Marley, Frank Lapidus and Mr. Crumples) while Law & Order: SVU reruns ran as background noise.

Yet…I missed the camaraderie when a team works together for an extended and ongoing period of time. I missed the pace of an office. I missed someone ordering and delivering office supplies and coffee. I missed the dynamics and rhythm of people gathering together, virtually or in-person, focused on long-term visions and goals. Together. With blood and sweat (and paychecks!) all dependent upon collective action.

So I went into job hunt mode.

What a cluster.

Now I had all sorts of visions of dream jobs and exotic locales. I was extremely mobile and open to relocation; there’s nothing much beyond friends and my love of the New Orleans Saints that binds me to Louisiana. I contemplated working for HR vendors or service providers (No AFLAC. I do NOT want to sell your stuff. Stop emailing me) and I created dream jobs in my mind in order to entice folks in “the space” into conversations. I had phone call after phone call. My business coach (shout out to my friend Andy in Australia – our weekly Skype calls got me through) pushed and prodded me to define what I was about and what I wanted. And, at the end of the day, I landed back in an in-house human resources leadership role.

Oh HR; I wish I knew how to quit you.

MY Candidate experience

I already discussed this a few months back over at Recruiting Daily when I shared my experience. I was still in job search mode at the time so, in hindsight, it’s good I landed a job at all.

But here’s the point of this disclosure – some observations on the abysmal (dismal?) state of what it’s like on the applicant/candidate side.

In a 5-month period I applied for positions all across the country with small, mid-sized, and ginormous organizations. Companies you’ve heard of, organizations you admire, and CEOs/HR teams/Recruiters who’ve won praise, accolades and awards for their stellar treatment of employees and candidates. The people who speak at conferences, write whitepapers, and chastise others for their ghastly treatment of candidates.

This process (and I kept a spreadsheet…naturally) took 5 months and there were a decent number of positions for which I completed an official on-line application on a mind-numbingly awful ATS or submitted my resume/cover letter via e-mail as requested. The source of identification varied but all jobs were found either through a personal referral, Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, Indeed, SHRM (national) web site, or Google search.

Let’s look at the numbers (my numbers):

  • 16% of my application submissions resulted in interviews
  • 40% of the companies responded with a “thanks but no thanks”; the time frame for this ranged from 24 hours to 3 months. (this is totally cool although I’m certain that at some of the super-big-and-sexy organizations a human eyeball never even looked at my resume or cover letter).
  • 44% of the companies never responded (and yes…that included personal referrals). Never responded at all. Let me refer you once again to that Recruiting Daily blog post for some additional details. There’s one that has passed the 36 month mark.

Wow. We (the collective we) suck. I can say that because I lived through it.

There were highlights and positive experiences of course. A few in-house recruiters and/or hiring managers contacted me directly to discuss and/or give feedback on why they thought I was not the right candidate. I, of course, upon discussion was totally able to say “yup…I agree with you. I’m not the right candidate.”

Loved that

So what’s the lesson here? I’m not aggregating tons of data or research a la the Talent Board/Candidate Experience Awards (p.s. download the reports if you don’t already). My lesson is more micro and more personal.

LESSON: If you work in HR or recruiting please commit to fixing your crappy process. At the very least, pledge to clean up the broken and demoralizing garbage that clogs the arteries of the job search process.

Public Service Announcement (with guitar) concluded. Over and out.

p.s. I LOVE my new job!


One thought on “PSA: One Candidate’s Experience

  1. Robin, I’m so glad to hear you love your new job! I saw on LinkedIn you got a new position at the Hollywood Casino a few months ago! I’ve been meaning to ask you how it was going. But, then I figured I’d wait to read about it on here. (:

    I honestly love that you had the opportunity to relive the job-hunt world. As a recent college graduate, I’ve been through the same hunt over the past year. (Thankfully, my job search ended at Ultimate and couldn’t be happier.) Anyway, I can imagine yours must have been quite interesting, even more so than the usual candidate, because you’ve had the opportunity to sit on both sides of the interview table. I’m curious what talent acquisition and recruiting strategies you are working on/ have implemented at your new job so that other job candidates don’t have the same bad candidate experience you lived through with some other companies? I’d love to hear how your own personal experience impacted your perception and implementation of recruiting strategies! (:

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