Nearly all of us have had the experience of job-hunting, unless you’re one of the lucky few who are independently wealthy. Most likely even Ms (or Mr) Right-at-the-top-of-HR, the one you need to impress to get your new, better-paid role, has at some stage in her life, been the one on the OTHER side of the board room table, hoping desperately that she’ll be the successful applicant.
The job-hunter role and the recruiting process are an interesting juxtaposition. They should marry together quite nicely, but there are times when the two are battling against each other, like a couple fighting over who’s right in the relationship.
In the eyes of the job-hunter, the recruitment process can seem murky and difficult to understand. And slow. Sometimes the process takes so long. You search for a job, compose letters, agonise over key selection criteria and CVs, click send and wait. You get a response, you know those automatically generated emails from the HR department or the recruitment agency, saying ‘Thank you for your application for *insert job title*. We will be in contact with you soon. Do not reply to this email.’ And you continue to wait.
Often, you’ve got two or three other interviews throughout this timeframe, so you’re playing the same waiting game over and over again. There’s one role that you’d prefer over the others, and of course, that’s the one that seems to be taking the most time. You start to wonder, what if you’re offered one that you don’t particularly want, you won’t particularly enjoy and is less pay before you get a chance to shine in the second interview for the role you desperately want.
Finally, word arrives with an offer of an interview, but most often these interviews are scheduled for at least two weeks in advance. More waiting. You attend the interview. More waiting before you discover if you’ve made it to the second-round interviews. You get to the second round, but there’s still more waiting involved as someone integral to the interview panel is on leave. Gah, it’s so frustrating!
So, what can you do when you’re keen to work, you know you’re going to excel in this role, but the process are just too slow? Do you take the lesser-paid job, because you should be in work? Is there any way that you can contact the employer and state your case?
It’s true that the more senior the position you’re applying for, the more leverage you may have in your favour. Certainly, if you’re starting out in the workforce and applying for an office-junior role, you may not be able to push the process along. But still, there are ways that you can, politely and respectfully, suggest that this employer may be in danger of losing you to another, less-preferred employer.
From the recruitment side, any employer will know the irritation when someone hands in their resignation letter (unless it’s a problem employee of course...maybe a topic for my next post?). It’s like an annoying buzz from a mosquito that won’t fly away. The first issue for employers is the Position Description and if it needs updating. Next is the incredible vastness of the labour market; it can be extremely difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff to choose a stellar recruit who fits the critical skills for the job. Employers need to decide whether they’re going to recruit from inside and/or outside of the organisation, taking careful note of their branding and reputation and the costs to the organisation throughout the process. Remember too, that there are legalities over the advertising of jobs, in the interests of equality, fairness and transparency.
How to recruit is also a big issue for the employer. Considering again the budgetary elements, decisions need to be made whether to advertise through the newspaper—local, state or nation-wide—a recruitment agency or online job sites. For more specific roles, there are also professional journals that an employer can use for advertising. There are a myriad of incentives to employers for hiring over 50s, apprentices and trainees, disadvantaged persons and so the list goes on. Employers need to consider all these options carefully and make sure any choices made will align with the critical skills for the job, as well as the business plan.
Once the advertising decisions have been made, diaries and calendars of those integral to the interview panel need to be synced. This is where the issues rub, those that are unseen and unknown to the job-hunter. Staff members are busy; there are meetings to attend—in some cases daily, reports to write, jobs to delegate, subordinates to oversee. Blocking a chunk of time out of these staff members’ days is complicated and can sometimes only be achieved by allocating two to four week in advance.
During the interview process, employers must be vigilant. Take notes. Make sure you remember the interviewee who stood out, the name, why they stood out from the crowd and why you think they’ll align with the organisation and fit in. I’ve been on a few panels where my colleagues didn’t take proper notes and became confused over who was the stand-out: they insisted it was one person, while all the rest on the panel said otherwise. Employers won’t want this sort of confusion when it comes to hiring.
Also important to note when it comes to interviews, job-seekers and employers all know the flaws to the interview process. Some who are being interviewed are comfortable in front of an audience and can puff and frill themselves to levels seen only on a male peacock attracting a mate. Others being interviewed are not so skilled—but this does not mean they’re not going to excel at the required aspects for the role itself. Neither does it mean the peacock is going to be any good (my experience is the more a person frills and puffs, the less likely they’re any good at what they’re saying they’re good at).
I think communication is key, whether you’re the job-hunter or the recruiter. Clear communication skills are necessary in every job, so it stands that the same skill can set you up well in the interview. If, as the job-hunter, you really want this job, tell the employer that you’re keen, and others are knocking on your door, but this is the one you want. If you can give clear reasons, in a polite, respectful and engaging tone, the employer will be impressed and will not, I think, want you to be snatched away by another. It might be just the impetus needed to hurry along the process.
And remember, Fiddes HR is always here to assist employers with creating effective and efficient recruitment strategies and processes, in order to make your business better.