It’s interesting that in this day and age, matching people to jobs and jobs to people can still be such a difficult exercise. Why is something so important and so routine so frustrating and even demoralising for so many people? Understanding and being empathetic to the expectations on both sides of the transaction can really help understand how the right job and the right candidate find each other. Developing a recruitment process that works repeatedly in your business will save a lot of time and money in the long run.
Candidate v Employer Expectations
There’s often a large gap between employer and candidate expectations. Imagine someone leaves a business after five years and the employer wants to replace that person who had a specific set of roles and responsibilities. This person’s job description, skills, knowledge and mix of expertise probably evolved with the job they did for that business over several years. The employee built up significant tacit knowledge, that is, “knowledge that is difficult to express or extract, and thus more difficult to transfer to others by means of writing it down or verbalising it.” Simply put, they just knew stuff. They knew how to output specific reports that weren’t automated in the system, they knew which suppliers to approach when something urgent came up and they knew not to ask Ben in finance to a meeting before he’s had his coffee! As new candidates arrive, the employer is trying to decipher from a resume whether their skills and experience match and how much training will be required to get that candidate up to speed. Is there realistically someone who can perfectly replace the outgoing employee?
While we all run the recruitment process in terms of job descriptions, job ads and resumes; in practice these things are approximations and tools of the trade when it comes to matching jobs to candidates and vice versa but there are no standards. Two people can have the exact same job title but do completely different things and often, they just don’t translate between industries and companies. Operations Managers in two different industries or even businesses can have a completely different set of skills and responsibilities. Someone who was the top-performing salesperson at a photocopier company may come unstuck when they move companies and try to sell cloud computing. A major issue in finding candidates crops up when the employer uses a title that only means something in their business. People will search for ‘Business Development Manager’ jobs but your ad for ‘Chief Target Smasher’ will probably not be found as easily.
Unconscious Bias in Recruitment
The other reason job matching is difficult is bias. A candidate might think they’re the best person for the job but if the hiring manager has had a bad experience with people who’ve come from their industry, they might be out of luck. Some employers have biases toward older people perhaps because they worry about their grasp of new technologies, some have biases about education levels. Is it a gap on a resume or a parent who was raising children but who still has a lot to offer? Candidates of course carry biases too but the thing is, a lot of people with biases don’t even know they have them. It’s subconscious programming they’ve picked up somewhere along the way and their actions are often not intentional or malicious.
Sorry. You’re Over-qualified!
How often have you heard “The candidate was overqualified”? The candidate wants this role, they’ve spent time applying for it and think they’ll be able to do it with one hand tied behind their back. In the employer’s mind, the candidate is viewing this opportunity as a stepping-stone, something to fill the gap or get a foot in the door. That translates to them having to repeat the recruitment process in a few months’ time which is costly and time-consuming. But maybe it’s better to get a great staff member on board and take the risk rather than the alternative of not finding anyone at all.
Hiring Manager Skill
Another point to note is that many hiring managers haven’t necessarily received formal training on hiring people. One day, they’re a team member the next they get promoted and are now in charge of hiring. While many businesses do provide qualified HR expertise, many don’t. Anyone who’s been in this situation can tell many stories of the mistakes they’ve made. We are very much speaking from personal experience here which is one of the main reasons we founded I’m your new in the first place.
We’re all human!
The point is, the humans on both sides of the job search equation are just trying to do their best. The candidate really wants a job, and the employer really wants a new teammate. But what seems like it should be easy, isn’t because, on top of the usual job market pressures, everyone involved is human and they’re all bringing their own wants, needs, history and baggage.
Advice for Employers
- Straight after candidates read your job ad, they will check you out, even stalk you! They’ll look at your website, LinkedIn profile, they’ll Google your business. Your employer brand is important because just as you are making a long-term decision, so are they.
- Give candidates the benefit of the doubt. The resume isn’t telling your everything and we’ve seen cases of offers being made after video interviews where the candidate would have previously been rejected based on their resume.
- Use recruitment software to automate resume matching, video interviewing and other time-consuming parts of the recruitment process. It can enhance your level of enjoyment of the exercise and allow you to focus your attention on the most suitable candidates as well as communicate with unsuitable candidates quickly which is important.
- Be patient. The average time to hire has increased from 42 to 63 days and in some cases it can be longer, up to 90 days! On the other hand, good candidates once they’ve applied can take another offer somewhere else so you need to be on the ball. Again, another good reason to use recruitment software and build a formal recruitment process. You don’t want to miss a great candidate who applies because, internally, the team trying to find someone isn’t focused or has become despondent.
- Think of where you are fishing for candidates and remember that not all candidates, especially passive ones, are going to be there. As many as 40% of people who are currently working are not actively looking but are open to offers. Job boards are very powerful but to be successful, job posting campaigns may need to be complemented with other activities.
- Do you have biases? It’s okay, we all do. The key is just to have awareness of them and assess how they might be influencing you. If you do use recruitment software, inviting multiple people to be involved in the process can help iron out some of these issues.
- We know that the recruitment agency has its place, but before you call them, have you attempted to develop your own recruitment process? If it’s not viable to spend the time, it’s understandable that you’d want to get someone to do it for you. But developing your own repeatable recruitment process will add significant value in your business and save you a lot of money over time. We’re not beating up the recruitment agency, in fact we partner with recruiters on a regular basis, but it can get expensive if you need to use them often.
Advice for Candidates
- Don’t be put off by employers using recruitment software, resume matching, video interviewing and other hiring tools. If you’re the right person for the job, these tools can go in your favour.
- Tailor your resume for the job. The notion of submitting the same resume for every job is problematic. Take the opportunity to address each of the points in the job description or ad. A lot of companies use automated resume matching because reading resumes manually can be really hard work. Each time you customise your resume by addressing the skills and experience outlined in the job description, you are pushing your resume further up the shortlist. While many think cover letters are outdated, they can show the employer that you’re a little more interested in the role than others who didn’t bother. Every little signal you can provide that tells a recruiter or employer that you are interested adds value to your application.
- Don’t apply for jobs you know you’ve got no chance of getting. You’re better off applying for fewer jobs and putting more effort into each one. In one sense, getting a job is a ‘numbers game’ i.e. the more you apply for, the more chance you have of finding something but really it’s not that simple. If your skills and experience are a poor match for a job, recruitment software, ai resume screening and/or the hiring manager will figure that out pretty quickly.
- Be open to different processes. Every business and hiring manager has a different process so, if you want the job, be prepared to work through it. If they have additional forms, video interviews or assessments they’d like done, put the effort in. Sure, you still might not get the job and feel like the effort was wasted but if you are more targeted in the jobs you apply for, this will happen less frequently. Don’t be intimidated, remember – the hiring manager needs you just as much as you need them!
- Follow up with employers. A simple phone call or email to say, ‘Hi [hiring manager], I’ve applied for the [insert title here] job and I’d love the opportunity to interview for it.’ Hiring is a human endeavour and most hiring managers will probably appreciate you making the effort. Again, it’s another action signalling your interest.
- Remember that there are lots of people who want to help you and see you succeed. Most of us have been in your position and we want you to be successful in your job search so don’t be afraid to reach out, ask for advice, ask your LinkedIn connections for referrals, call your contacts and so on. If you need further advice and a good resume template, we’re happy to help.