By Natalie DeYoung
This is a new world we live in. The rules for living have changed drastically in the years since the Internet took over the world, and nothing is more difficult than finding a job in this new economy. Not a good job, mind you, but any job. Sure, reports spew out of the Capitol about job gains and GDP growth, but truthfully most of these jobs are low-level service jobs with employers for whom the concept of a living wage still remains a laughable notion. Wages have stagnated for the past 30 years, entire sectors are disappearing, and let me tell you friends, it doesn’t look good out there.
Job searching in the second decade of the millennium is an employer’s market, which has polluted everyone’s minds to the point where the workforce remains in a constant state of desperation. Gone are the days when people responded to job inquiries, or when candidates were treated with respect. Now, a person can send out hundreds of resumes and never hear a single response. It doesn’t matter how many job boards she joins or how organized her job-search spreadsheet looks or how many versions of her resume she drafts or how many cover letters she rewrites – often, potential employers just plain suck at social etiquette. This not only belittles the potential job force, it makes employers look careless in the eyes of the public and potential customers.
Never fear, employers! Here are a few handy tips for how not to suck at social etiquette when hiring someone:
- Don’t ask potential candidates to jump through hoops unless you’re Google. Remember, most people looking for a job have applied for many jobs, sometimes hundreds. They most likely have multiple resumes, because the unemployed are intelligent, flexible humans applying for many kinds of jobs. For the long-term unemployed, the search may have started off as a noble quest for The Perfect Job, one with benefits and a reasonable number of paid vacation days, but it soon devolves into a scramble to find anything before the unemployment insurance fountain runs dry. Please don’t ask for special favors – the unemployed are already jumping through extraordinarily stressful hoops to try and find employment. When you ask a candidate to describe themselves in 140 characters (“and be creative!”), you’re serving no one.
- Don’t. Ask. For. Free. Work. This piggybacks on the prior point. DO NOT ask a writer to provide 500 words on the state of air travel in the U.S. unless you plan on compensating the writer for that work. A person’s resume and references speak for themselves; in the same way you wouldn’t ask a carpenter to build you a cabinet to assess her skills, you don’t ask a graphic designer to come up with a mock logo for your brand just as a test. Respect the candidate’s time and talent.
- Enough with the forms already! None of this “submit your resume as an attachment and then fill out your job history in a completely separate data entry form.” Talk about a big fat freaking waste of redundant time. Or the “fill out our twelve pages of clickable forms and also a fifty-two question personality test” jazz. If you want to know if someone is a good fit, pick up the phone and talk to them, like everyone used to in the olden days. Or for the more technologically inclined there’s this thing called Skype. It’s brilliant. Remember watching The Jetsons talk on their videophones and thinking wow that’s so cool! I wonder if we’ll ever be able to do that? Well friends, that time is upon us. You can instantly see whether or not the person dresses like Spock complete with prosthetic Vulcan ears, without making unemployed life harder than it is.
- Auto-response, fools: use it. Now, for a large company receiving thousands of resumes for a single position, of course you aren’t able to respond to everybody. As someone who used to work in HR, I can commiserate; it’s hard enough responding to more than twenty applicants without needing several naps between emails. This is where a little organization and preparation comes in handy. Setting up a simple auto-responder goes a long way toward spreading goodwill. A “Thank you for your interest in _____ position. Due to the number of applicants we receive, we regretfully will not be able to personally respond to everyone individually” auto email works surprisingly well at maintaining candidate goodwill, not to mention is just a decent thing to do when you know you won’t be able to respond to everybody.
- If people request updates as to the status of their application, for the love of pizza answer them! Candidates who care enough about a job to follow-up deserve the courtesy of a reply. DO NOT blow them off – especially if they’re someone you’ve interviewed. It’s tacky, it’s disrespectful, and it does not speak highly of your company.
And there you have it. Six easy ways to not suck while hiring a new employee. Painless, effective, and guaranteed to establish your company as one who actually cares about people.