Building a team is not as simple as choosing more people to bring on board.
Having been on both sides of the recruitment funnel, as a candidate and as a recruiter, here’s the other side of the recruitment coin – the side that employers rarely talk about.
Yes, we may already be familiar with the myriad of challenges that a prospective applicant faces with a growing grocery list of demands that at some point begins to feel like the 12 labours (tasks) of Hercules. As a job candidate, I’ve personally experienced a 3 month+ long recruitment process with 3 different rounds of interviews and reference checks. Others have experienced paid and unpaid work challenges as part of their recruitment process. Both are ineffective.
If employers cannot regulate themselves through better HR screening policies and procedures, then maybe governments should regulate them, just as New York has passed a law for employers to post salaries for a job advertisement, to ensure pay transparency and reduce the gender wage equity gap. However, I digress. Most employees are often too busy developing stakeholder relationships, meeting KPIs and protecting the brand, to write about the countless mistakes that prospectives candidates make. Some would rather just select a candidate, hope for the best and move on to business operations. Here’s what happens behind the figurative curtain – on the other side of the recruitment coin, when Business Clinic posts job advertisements for Virtual Assistants, Social media Interns, Digital marketing interns, Tax Accountants, Tech Gurus and Website Developers.
For better or for worse, the response to our job advertisements is always overwhelming (without paid ads). Unfortunately, the job market is not balanced, with too few opportunities for far too many candidates. In business, we often train entrepreneurs to think about problem-solution fit, before focusing on product-market fit. It is the same in recruitment. Here’s my top tips to improve your chances of selection and some definite don’ts that won’t get you a response. Avoid these recruitment pitfalls:
- Use the employer’s requested channel of submission. If the job description requests applicants to complete an online form (with the link provided) – click on the link, set up an account if required, complete the responses to the questions. Don’t use it as an opportunity to state “as stated on CV / resume” or similar variation. The digital tools parse, sift and classify data based on submitted responses. Each person has a different CV / resume format and when an employer receives 100+ responses, he / she relies on the digital tools to read the data / responses. It is highly likely that your CV won’t be viewed, until the digital tools have completed the filtering process and selected high potential candidates. If you email your CV to an employer who has requested an online application submission using a specific link, your email won’t be opened or viewed by the right person.
- Solve the employer’s problem. Each employer has a particular need (problem) that they require to be solved. It is not always clearly articulated in the job description, but it is certainly a gap that they require filled. Do some research and tailor your cover letter to the problem you can solve. Don’t send the same generalized cover letter to multiple companies. Use a targeted approach and choose companies that you actually want to work with.
- Know some facts about the company you are applying to. This follows-up on the second point. Never send a cover letter that identifies a company by the wrong name (Yikes!). It shows that you have not reviewed your own submission and at best, you are sending the same cover letter to all companies, and at worst, you do not value accuracy / or are detail oriented. Knowing some facts about the company also personalizes your submission and shows your interest in the company’s operations. Employers want to work with candidates who care about the business, displays specific industry knowledge or demonstrates relevant skill sets that can tackle their pain points.
- Ask pertinent questions. Please don’t send a WhatsApp message to a company’s number (or rather any form of contact) to ask – “What is a CV?” Yes, it is good to ask clarifying questions. It is never good to not know simple industry jargon when applying for jobs. As always, google is your friend. By the same token, please don’t contact a company to ask, why your CV cannot be uploaded to the preferred digital platform, when the error message clearly states that only specific formats are accepted e.g. .doc or .pdf only. If your CV is in .jpg or .png format it will be rejected.
- Don’t circumvent the rules. The rules of engagement are set by the employer and it varies across companies. Some companies’ job advertisements clearly state ‘no phone calls please’ or ‘only shortlisted candidates will be contacted’ or only applications submitted in x,y,z medium will be considered. Choosing to do anything else is your individual right. However, don’t expect a prospective employer to consider your application seriously or respond to your messages. By the same token, don’t submit photos of your CV instead of the actual file of your CV. Each choice you make as a candidate, draws you one step closer or further away from your objective – i.e. to have the benefit of an interview to clarify any supplementary information.
The interview phase is a whole different discussion and worthy of another article. For now, these are the top five recruitment don’ts when you are considering framing your applications and choosing the companies you want to work with.
Employment is all about two things – solving an employer’s problem and achieving the right company fit. If you know you can accomplish none, consider not applying. You will do yourself a disservice. If you can only accomplish one but not the other, it will be a short-term engagement. If you believe you can accomplish both, that’s a golden opportunity for both you and the prospective employer. This is how you make it make sense.
1In December 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation (S.9427-A/A.10477) establishing a statewide pay transparency law in New York State, requiring employers to list salary ranges for all advertised jobs and promotions.