Calling Hooey on You

Hate peopleHooey. If you aren’t familiar with this term, it’s a nicer and friendlier way of calling “BS” on something or someone. It’s when your words and your actions don’t line up and your hypocrisy has been exposed. Such is the case with Recruiters. I am calling “hooey” on you today.

I have been in recruiting for around 10 years. During that time, I have interviewed and hired countless other recruiters. I have conversations with other recruiters all of the time just talking shop and exploring strategies and processes and so on. One of the things that I always find myself asking is, “How did you fall into recruiting, since no one ever really sets out to be a recruiter?” What I really want to know is, “Why are you a recruiter?” One of the universal answers that I hear well over 95% of the time is, “I love people. I really like helping people.” To this, I call hooey on you.

More and more recruiters are seeking out technologies or apps to do their work for them. Companies invest small fortunes into their recruitment technologies to try an minimize the human element in recruiting now. As a result, many candidates now can go through the entire application process – and within seconds afterward, the rejection process as well – without a single human being ever even knowing that they applied or considering them for a job opportunity. Recruiters love people so much that they want to minimize any interaction with people. Robots are the preferred method of dealing with people. Let them scan a resume seeking out exact matches to keywords found in a job description, and if enough of them can be found, then you might be a special enough person to a recruiter’s attention. Just a quick question though, what about the candidate who is fully qualified for the opening but they used a different term than they one used in your job description? Oh, silly me….candidates are supposed to re-write their resume for every single job that they apply for and make them robot proof…got it.

Want further proof of your hooeyness? For those recruiters who are generous enough to lay eyes on a resume, you spend an average of 6 seconds on it. Yep, you enjoy helping others. After your 6 seconds is up, you discard that resume and never even consider sending an email, a phone call, a text, a smoke signal – nothing – to let that person know they were not going to be considered. Instead, you’ve decided that you love people so much that you’d send them a message when they applied that thanked them for their time and letting them know that you would be in contact if it was a match (presumably letting you off of the hook for any future common courtesies). I would consider giving you a gold star for this effort if you had sent it from your own personal email address, but instead you sent it from a “do not reply” email address so those people that you love helping couldn’t possibly know who you are or reach out to you.

As I mentioned at the outset of this post…I’ve been in recruiting for about 10 years. Do I spend hours pouring over every single resume that I receive and place individual phone calls to each and every candidate that applies for my openings? Absolutely not. But I do provide them with feedback – every single one of them. I’m sure I may have missed a handful of them over the years, but I do try to give every candidate information (good or bad). Am I anxious to answer the phone every time it rings, especially when I know it’s the candidate who has already called me 15 times in a 3 day period…no. I roll my eyes and I dread answering that call…but I do or I call them back. Am I a saint for doing these things…nope. But here’s what the point is for this post…

Behind every resume that we receive is a person – a human being – a family. Many are in a desperate situation. The mortgage is due. Car payments need to be made. Groceries need to be purchased. Their kids have a school or church event coming up and they need to register. We sometimes think we just live in a world of resumes, but each one has a face and a story.

The way forward is to have a balance of high tech and high touch. There is no way to do effective recruiting today without a heavy dose of technology involved…but they should be used to make the process more effective and efficient for the candidate, not as an excuse for the recruiter to do a lesser level of work. There are some recruiters who truly do love people and gain great satisfaction in helping others. To you, I applaud your extra efforts and keeping the big picture in mind. But for those recruiters who say they love people and want to help them, but actually loathe people and cannot stand talking to them – please get out of my industry because you make the rest of us look really bad.

Don’t Hate the Robot, Hate the Game

Robotic Snake Is Displayed In Science Museum's Dana CentreJob candidates jump through the hoops that companies and recruiters set up for them. Some have decided that they may only get one shot at gaining all of the information possible from a candidate and placed lots and lots of hoops at the application portion of the process. They go online to apply for the job, and in some cases, they stay involved in that application process for hours – uploading a resume, filling out an online application, answering pre-screen questions, providing social security numbers and other personal information, clicking on release form after release form after release form. Then, when they finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, they hit “Submit” and within 3 seconds they have received an email from the company.

Excitedly they go to check that email! They’re thinking, “I’m so awesome and perfect for this job that it only took them 3 seconds to realize it!” But then they realize that it was just a generic email thanking them for applying…BUT THERE’S ANOTHER DING indicating another message just 2 seconds later! “This is it! They want me immediately!” The candidate reads the second email where they are told that they are not a match for the job. They invested hours to submit their application and it took 5 seconds to be told they weren’t a fit.

Job seekers have come to experience the technology side of recruiting in a very real and personal way, but their adjustment to these new technologies has been slow. It has impacted their ability to gain interviews and offers where they might have in the past. There are no human exceptions in that initial screening any longer. It’s black and white, cut and dry, yes or no.

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) now do much of the analysis on their own. They scan your resume and look for keywords that match the words found in the job description or specific words that a recruiter entered when creating the requisition. If you have a variation of that word that hasn’t been entered as an acceptable term – you are out. They have weighted and scored pre-screen questions for candidates to answer. Some of these knock you out immediately if a wrong answer is given. If you answer the salary question and you are out of range by $500/year, you’re out. There are no exceptions. Many times, these candidates are qualified for the jobs, they are just a victim of not pulling out a thesaurus to use every variation of a particular word within the confines of their resume. If human eyes had seen this resume, it would have been clear that this person should have been called in for an interview at the very least.

I’m not anti-technology. I think they are very much needed and appropriate for recruiting. But I do think we have gone too far in the use of technologies, and in doing so, reduced the human element to an after-thought. It should be a blend of high tech and high touch. The use of technologies should benefit the candidate by making the job widely known, speeding up the application process, and by helping them stay informed on their status throughout the process. They should not be used as an excuse for a recruiter to do less work.  If I knew that I had a candidate in my requisition that was qualified and available, but they missed the compensation question by $500 a year – I’d still want to talk to that candidate 100 times out of 100! It would be insane not to. But many recruiters just accept the ATS’s recommendation and never go back to look at some of those who barely missed for one reason or another.

Then, when we recruiters want to show just how caring an generous we really are…we give a resume the average 6 seconds of our time before throwing it in one of 2 stacks (keep or disqualified). 6 seconds…wow!

Let me ask you. If you were the candidate and your mortgage was coming due in 2 weeks, along with a car payment, 3 credit cards, and you were out of groceries, and you only had a few hundred dollars left in the bank…would you want your career, your home, the welfare of your family decided by the ATS robot or the overly generous 6 second recruiter? We deal with people. These are lives that we impact. It’s called Human Resources for a reason, but unfortunately we remove the human from it way too often.

As our workforce continues to transition, it is imperative that we have that blend of technology and human interaction. The job seekers that we deal with now are demanding it. Remember all of those kids in the 90’s that were on the little league baseball team or the pee wee football team? We decided that we needed to give them all a trophy, ribbon, or certificate. We wanted them to feel equal at all costs and to always feel good about themselves. We even stopped keeping score in some cases. Well, little Tommy and Susie aren’t in junior  soccer anymore – they’re applying for your jobs. Their generation requires much more interaction and assurances than previous generations did. Our technology driven, no interaction systems that we’ve designed so we wouldn’t have to talk with people just won’t cut it with them.

Don’t blame the robot in all of this. Robots do what they were designed to do. Blame the people who come up with the strategies and the processes and determined that Human Resources needed to minimize human interaction. Hate the game.

The Flappy Bird Recruiting Approach

Flappy Bird RecruitingEvery few months or so, a new game app comes around that my 16 year old daughter and all of her friends go crazy over. They sit there in a deep stare, barely moving, likely not even breathing – then BOOM – an eruption of disappointment, followed by the resolve to do even better next time, even if it means subsidizing their time spent on homework or interacting with their parents. This goes on and on and on. The latest such app to grab their attention is Flappy Birds.

For me, as a guy in his mid-40’s, this game goes back to simpler time (1980’s) when graphics in games were pixelated and rough – certainly not the realistic, life-like graphics of today. It reminds me of a portion of Mario Brothers when he would be in water and have to swim in between various pipes to get through the maze. Flappy Birds has the same pipes, but the bird must navigate through the sky, between pieces of pipe, and the goal is to see how many you can pass before eventually touching one and crashing to the ground. The player has to tap the screen to give the bird a little burst of wing power, or flappiness, in order to go up. No flappiness, the bird drops to the ground and crashes. It’s really quite tragic!

As someone who focuses on Recruitment Optimization, I witness a lot of Flappy Bird recruiting taking place. As I speak with HR and Talent Acquisition leaders from across a wide spectrum of industries, they operate in a survival mode most often. They want to go with the strategies and processes and technologies and so on that they’ve been using for several years. They do this for a few reasons:

  • It’s a comfort zone. They are used to doing it this way.
  • Change is scary. Fear of the unknown.
  • They think it is too time consuming and/or too expensive to evaluate and consider other options.

The Flappy Bird approach to recruiting is one where you intend to glide as long as possible, and only have to make a conscious effort to put more wind under the wings when absolutely necessary or when trouble lurks ahead. In other words, the status quo is good enough. But what happens when things begin to shift and the status quo is no longer good enough? There’s a fine line in knowing when extra effort is necessary, and crashing altogether and having to start all over.

The truth is, in Recruitment Optimization, part of the evaluation process is taking into consideration where a team is today, the personalities reflected among the team, and trying to make sure that your optimization efforts do not overwhelm or become a drastic change for the team that will be executing the changes.  The implementation of recommended changes should be transitioned in slowly and in small bites in order to win the confidence of the team.

The evaluation process, at least the way I do it, is neither time consuming or expensive. I know, you just rolled your eyes, didn’t you? Seriously, I know that people have jobs to do and everyone is working hard. In light of that, I have developed a streamlined approach to gathering the information needed to evaluate your current recruitment efforts where I can spend 1 day onsite with you, and portions of the day are spent with various other employees so no one is taken out of their job for an entire day. As for cost, I keep it low. How low? Well, if you were to call a recruitment firm and ask them to fill an entry level search for you, what kind of fee would you pay them? 20% of that entry level person’t salary? For about the same amount, I can do my evaluation and provide both short term and long term recommendations that will save you dramatically more than what you paid me. This is a no brainer!

Contact me if you’d like to know more about my Recruitment Optimization services.

Which “Bird” Resembles Your Recruitment Efforts the Most?

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