If you’ve interviewed lately, you know the first step of a job interview is a phone screen. After you apply for a job, a recruiter from the company will reach out to you. They’ll ask to setup a time to meet.
In the phone screen, the recruiter will ask predictable questions. They say, “Tell me about yourself.” Then, they’ll ask follow up questions. “Why are you interested in the job? Why are you looking for a job?” They may also ask how you heard about the job, or how much expertise you have in a certain area. And, they’ll ask how much money you want.
It’s pretty standard. The one question I have seen lately that is shocking however is this. At the very end of the interview, the recruiter will say, “After this call, can you email me a copy of your resume?” Read that again. “After this call, can you email me a copy of your resume?”
This seems like an odd question, right? What I’m getting at is this. Some recruiters are interviewing job applicants without having a copy of their resume. They aren’t downloading it ahead of time from the application. They are going into an interview cold, without knowing anything about the candidate. They’re asking random questions. They are completely and totally unprepared. And that is how they’re making important hiring decisions for the company.
As a candidate, I suppose you may want to start off an interview by checking to see that the recruiter has a copy of your resume. However, this question really seems like it may introduce an odd dynamic to the conversation.
HR leaders, if you are reading this, please take note. This is a genuine problem. I’ve observed many examples of this lately. If you’re a company, I know you want to hire the best people. And, you certainly don’t want to waste a candidate’s time. After all, candidates study for interviews. They memorize your job description. They scour the internet to learn about your company. They practice their answers to common interview questions. They prepare their own questions. And, often, they ask friends and family for help. This is a huge effort to go through for a recruiter to show up unprepared.
If you’re looking for a job, I don’t have a ton of great ideas for this problem. Honestly, the lack of accountability baffles me. And, companies are using these folks as the gate keepers. Sure, many recruiters are helpful. But, even one absent minded recruiter can really cause problems with an entire hiring process.
Companies, it’s past time that we hold ourselves to the same standards that we hold candidates to. It’s time to show up on time and prepared for our interviews. If we don’t have something we need in order to participate in an interview, we should ask for that piece of information before the interview begins. It’s step one.
When a company is looking to hire someone, finding the right candidate takes time. There are often multiple phone screens, multiple video interviews, and in person panel interviews. In some cases, there are homework assignments, IQ tests, personality tests, and drug tests. Typically, there are reference checks. Sometimes job seekers provide writing samples or portfolios of their work.
Thinking about this makes me tired. Don’t you agree? The point is, going through a job search is a ton of work – on both sides. As you can imagine, it’s very important that the job seeker is honest and up front with the company. If they misrepresent their work in any way, the company won’t be able to make the best hiring decision.
On the flip side of this coin, it’s very important that the company is honest and up front with the candidate. What could I possibly mean by that? Well, did you know that sometimes companies will interview candidates when there isn’t really a job available?
That sounds pretty weird, doesn’t it? How could that possibly happen? First, it does happen. I recently witnessed someone go through fifteen rounds of interviews with one company. At the end, the person was notified that they were the top choice candidate, but that the team wasn’t authorized to hire anyone.
I don’t think the company meant any harm by this decision. I think they truly hoped they would get approval for the position, but just never did.
But, let’s think of this from the candidate’s perspective. The candidate turned down other interviews to attend these fifteen interviews. The candidate missed their own work meetings to go to these interviews. The candidate made a lot of sacrifices of their time over months in order to make this work. They made these choices because they were investing in an opportunity that the candidate wanted.
When the company shared with the candidate that they wouldn’t be able to hire them, the company never apologized. It seems clear that the company didn’t realize how much they personally impacted that job seeker. The company never thought about the other opportunities the person walked away from to focus on them.
This is where ethics come in. Interviewing candidates for a job isn’t the same as test driving cars at the dealership. They’re real people. If you don’t select someone because they weren’t the best candidate, no problem. And, if the job was canceled midway through the process, well, life happens sometimes. But, if you are interviewing candidates when you know there is not approval for a job, and you aren’t disclosing that information to the candidate in the first conversation, you are being an unethical hiring manager. The candidate should be able to decide if this role is important enough to prioritize it, considering the potential risk involved.
Let’s agree to be honest and up front. Ethics are important. Transparency is important.
Job searching is tough. But, what is really tough is job searching when you’re unemployed. Through my work with job seekers, I’ve noticed a trend. Those who are unemployed are much more distressed by the process of job searching then those who aren’t.
When thinking through this issue, I looked up the term “emotional rollercoaster.” I was surprised to find multiple websites that claim the term was coined by Dr. N. Amundson in relation to dealing with unemployment. He published an article called, “The dynamics of unemployment: Job loss and job search.”
I’d never heard of this article, but I was able to verify on Google Scholar that it does exist. In the description, it says, “We have developed an integrated model comparing job loss to the grieving process (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) and job search to “burnout” (enthusiasm, stagnation, frustration, apathy).”
If you have a family member who is unemployed, you have probably wondered what is going on. Why don’t they just get over it? Be positive and have a better attitude, right?
Well, sadly, it’s not that simple. When you experience other types of loss, like a death in the family, it can feel absolutely awful. At the time, there’s really nothing worse. But, if other areas in your life stay stable, eventually, you start to feel somewhat normal again after a certain period of grief.
But, unfortunately, with unemployment, these feelings of grief don’t resolve. The unemployed person must alter every piece of their life in order to cope with a sudden loss of income. They may stop going to the doctor. They may buy cheaper food. They may become isolated from friends because they don’t feel comfortable with the cost of going to a restaurant for dinner.
With unemployment, until it’s over, the person continues to be in the middle of an emergency. The end point is unknown, and the worries multiply by the day. To make matters worse, loved ones often assume the unemployed person is doing something wrong. After all, if they were doing everything right, they would have a job by now.
But, that’s not the reality of the situation. Normally, when we look for a job, we have a job. We look passively. It can take a few years to find something that’s the right fit. But, nobody notices because we still have a job. And, when you have a job, you job search in secret. When you’re unemployed, everyone knows you’re looking.
If you have an unemployed friend, cut them a little slack. Realize that it’s not just something they should have a better attitude about. Just because they haven’t landed a job doesn’t mean they aren’t good at what they do. It doesn’t mean they should switch careers. And, it doesn’t mean they need unsolicited advice.
What it means is that they need your friendship and support to get them through this emotional rollercoaster.
I recently heard a saying that stuck with me: “Learning is the new loyalty.” Hearing this phrase, it felt like the record stopped. Everything was quiet for a moment while I contemplated just how much I agree.
Often, I hear from young job seekers who are confused. Their parents have told them not to switch jobs. They’ve been advised to stay at one job for many years. It will offer stability. It will offer a retirement. Employers will respect you for staying at one place for a long period of time. Companies don’t want job hoppers.
This was true – when your parents were starting their careers. But, for the most part, it’s not the case anymore. Employers are quick to lay off workers. They often don’t promote from within. And, many are happy to hire someone new from the outside who is more up to date on technology or industry trends.
So, what’s a job seeker to do? Companies value you being up to date on your work related stills more than they value you staying at a job for ten or more years. It doesn’t mean you should change jobs every six months. But, don’t stay in a job for too long.
You may wonder how long is too long. Ask yourself these questions. Am I still learning? Am I still growing? If the answer to these questions is no, it may be time to start looking. Don’t stay in your current job for years after it becomes routine. If you’re no longer growing your skillset, you’re likely falling behind.
Think about this. When is the last time your company paid for you to attend a class or training? Sure, some companies are great about this. But, they aren’t the norm. Companies no longer prioritize education, but they do still expect you to be learning.
A great way to keep growing and learning is to take on a new challenge at a new company. And, a huge perk is pay. Companies rarely reward people who are loyal and stick around for years and years. They spend their money recruiting new talent. External hires are the ones who will make the current market rate.
The new hires they bring in are the people who are typically the most up to date. And, they stay up to date by not staying in any one job for too long.
Now, keep in mind that this advice is not one size fits all. But, when your parents or grandparents begin to give you a hard time about your career ambitions, ask yourself a few questions. Do they work in the same field as I do? Are they knowledgeable about my career field? If not, you may be talking to the wrong person. If this happens and you’re in search of advice, seek out mentors who are in your field. They may tell you, “Learning is the new loyalty.”
Almost everything else falls into the wrong way category. Occasionally, companies I shop at will try to text me and I opt out. The only time it feels good to interact with a business via text is when they’re confirming an appointment. For example, it can be helpful when a hair stylist confirms their appointment with you by text. It reminds you and allows you to easily interact with the business on your own time.
But, what I’ve seen lately doesn’t fall into these categories. It takes text messaging to an entirely new level. Employers are using text messaging in their hiring process. You heard me right. Employers are texting job seekers.
I have to think that text messaging was some fancy feature added on to a recruiting package. I can imagine a sales rep explaining that, “This is a great way to text with candidates! It will make your life so easy and will let the candidates know that you’re ahead of the game!”
But, I don’t see it this way at all. Job seeking is delicate. First of all, it’s very private. Very few people should be aware you’re job searching. The last thing you need is text messages popping up on your phone out of the blue from an employer. On top of any privacy concerns, job seeking is an extremely emotional process. It can be like a roller coaster. Often, job seekers will put aside certain time during the day to work on their job search. This is a great way to manage the stress that job seekers typically feel.
You may wonder how companies could be using text messaging to communicate with applications. There are two main buckets that these text messages fall into. The first are messages that are sent by people, and the second are automated messages that are sent by a computer.
When a company manually sends text messages, the person is generally reaching out to schedule or reschedule interviews. Recruiters also use text messages to ask candidates how an interview went with a hiring manager. These messages aren’t ideal, but they aren’t the worst.
The worst are text messages sent by computer. Companies are using them to reject candidates. Let that sink in. Remember how painful automated rejection emails are (the ones you check at your home, in the time you’ve devoted to your job search)? Now, imagine you’re going about your day and a rejection pops up on your phone, from a job you were truly interested in. Ouch!
Companies, remember: you don’t have to use every shiny piece of technology on your new applicant tracking system. Treat job seekers the way you would want to be treated.