Say NO to job applications

Quick Question

say-noWhat would you do if you were interested in a position that clearly states:

All applications must include a cover letter stating salary expectation. Any applications submitted without this information will not be considered.

Would you apply? Would you apply but wouldn’t include salary expectations? Thanks! Keep up the great work!

Nick’s Quick Advice

I’d skip the application altogether, track down someone who works in the company, and find out who the manager is who needs to fill the job.

Then call that manager — on the phone, no e-mail — and ask a question no one ever asks them:

“When you pick someone to hire to fill this job – what’s the one most important thing you want them to fix, improve, accomplish, do to make your business more successful? Because I never apply for a job unless I know what the manager really needs a new hire to do first and foremost. And if I can’t put together a plan showing how I’d do that, I won’t apply.”

A smart manager will answer that question immediately – and you’ve set yourself apart as the best candidate already. Explain that you’d be glad to come in to talk, but you’ll send a resume only directly to the manager:

“Sorry. I don’t deal with personnel departments. They don’t really understand the work I do, so they can’t judge me. I talk only to managers, and I arrive ready to talk shop. We’ll talk salary only if I can convince you I’d be a profitable hire. If I can’t do that, then you shouldn’t hire me.”

Let the HR folks go diddle those cover letters while you’re interviewing for the job. And if the manager doesn’t understand what you’re talking about, run to the next opportunity, because that company isn’t looking for people who demonstrate initiative. In other words, the company is in trouble. (How can you know what your salary expectation is if you don’t know what the manager needs you to accomplish?)

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HR Technology: Terrorizing the candidates

In the August 2, 2016 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a reader shows us how a good employer recruits and hires.

tech-out-of-controlWe recently got a look at machines doing interviews — automated hiring. (New Grads: Send a robo-dog to job interviews!) An electrical engineer wrote to say that, “Fewer companies are doing on-campus interviews,” and expressed dismay at employers who try to recruit by substituting technology for personal, human contact.

Instead of making the kind of personal investment they expect from job seekers, employers are sending robo-drones to probe applicants online and via video. This job hunter found it troubling that human judgment has gone missing from the most important point in the recruiting and selection process — the very beginning, the first contact between the employer and the job seeker.

In this edition, the same engineer shares his experience of landing a job with a company whose managers reach out in person to judge applicants and to make hires. He closes his comments with an interesting observation about how a top university selects its freshman class — and asks whether employers are smarter than this school.

A reader’s story

I recently took on a new job in my town. I have been reading Ask The Headhunter for a long time, and while I have been working on expanding my network, I still applied for jobs the “traditional” way when I saw one I was interested in. (I’m from the school of Do What Works.)

I applied on their website, and soon thereafter got a phone interview. It was with a human, and it was short. Then my current manager interviewed me in person for only an hour. (Also in the interview was an engineer who now does marketing. I like that — a technical person who talks to customers!) I was told right then and there that of the three candidates under consideration, I was the top one.

A week later, I had a phone interview with the manager’s boss, whose office is 2,000 miles away, and HR interviewed me on the phone. During the next two weeks my manager called me twice to let me know what was going on. So when I got an offer within a week of the manager’s last call, I accepted. It took about a month altogether. This was the perfect balance of technology and face-to-face.

Yes, it was very personal.

My previous company tried to counter-offer. Raise!!! Stock!!! I answered: “Sorry, but I’m leaving.” I’m glad I made the change.

You can verify this, but the California Institute of Technology, which gets way more applications for their freshman class than they can admit, actually has every single application read and considered by real, live human beings.

Now, if the highest tech of the high-tech schools does not have an automated system to do this (and they could make a very good one with all that talent), then I can only conclude that they realize there are some tasks best left to human beings.

I love reading your website, and keep up the good work!

Nick’s Reply

Thanks for your kind words, but thanks more for your instructive story. We need to hear how good employers hire!

Employers’ biggest mistake today is using technology (algorithms, machine interviews, massive applicant databases) to process far too many applicants, making it more difficult for managers to choose, and turning the process into a months-long embarrassment. By the time HR watches the umpteenth “video interview,” it becomes convinced that watching more will yield a better hire — when all it does is protract an already cumbersome process that terrorizes candidates and pisses off the best ones.

A few decades ago even candidates who were rejected each received a personal note thanking them for applying. Now, in many companies it’s robo-all-the-way and damn the human touch. “We have no time in HR for professional courtesies because there are too many of you responding to our cattle calls!” (See Rude Employers: Slam-Bam-Thank-You-Ma’m.)

Let’s look at the key differences in how this employer treated you — compared to what most companies seem to be doing today. It seems clear from your story that you were enticed and convinced by the personal touch and the timely handling.

8 steps to respectful hiring

  1. The company responded quickly after you applied.
    Most companies seem incapable of prompt action and decisiveness — or of tendering a speedy, polite rejection. In this case, it seems that HR — not the hiring manager — made the first call to you. While I think the manager should make first contact, the fact that HR kept it short tells me the manager pre-selects candidates and HR serves in a support role. (Yes, there are good HR workers out there who know what they’re doing, and how not to interfere when it comes to judging candidates.) After all, the #1 candidate seemed to be one of just three. That’s all it should take to make a hire.
  2. A human called you.
    Most companies waste weeks letting algorithms sort applicants. HR doesn’t realize that the shelf-life of a good candidate in a “talent shortage” is very short. These employers behave like there’s no rush while the best hires go to their more nimble competitors.
  3. The next step was a personal investment by the hiring manager.
    Hiring is important enough that he quickly met you face-to-face, along with another team member. Most employers would have you fill out more applications or take tests online or in the HR office — without a manager’s involvement. You would have been left with a poor impression of the company.
  4. The manager gave you immediate feedback.
    Most of the time, applicants leave interviews with no idea whether the employer is seriously interested in hiring them. And then it’s impossible to get any feedback, much less a response to phone calls or e-mail queries. This manager was smart to ‘fess up that you were #1, and then to follow through. (See Will employers explode if you squeeze them for interview feedback?)
  5. The manager’s boss called you personally.
    Rather than delegate the selection process downward to HR, your new manager escalated it to a higher-level manager in a timely way. It’s important to note that HR was not driving this process — the managers were. They moved in concert quickly — another sign that you’ll be working for good, decisive people.
  6. The manager demonstrated respect.
    He took personal responsibility to call you regularly with updates. Every manager is busy. Most use that as an excuse for dropping the ball when hiring. Most companies have no qualms about radio silence for weeks or months, as if the applicant’s time and peace of mind are immaterial. (“We don’t care about our reputation among job seekers because there are thousands more waiting for a job here!”)
  7. HR stepped in at the end — where it belongs.
    Dotting i’s and crossing t’s is HR’s job. This HR organization did it right: It left the responsibility and authority with the hiring managers, and entered the process after your new boss decided to hire you.
  8. An offer was tendered promptly.
    In the month your new employer took to make a commitment to you, other managers don’t even start interviewing candidates. Their HR staff is busy gorging itself on hundreds of videos, or gagging on thousands of resumes. (Do employers take forever to make you a job offer? See Play Hardball With Slowpoke Employers.)

Noisy Hiring: Managers can’t hear the candidates

Employers reading this should pay close attention to your story about CalTech. You’re absolutely right. While HR departments deploy more and more offensive HR technology between hiring managers and job applicants, CalTech demonstrates the wisdom of decision makers getting as close as possible to applicants immediately.

tech-out-of-control-2In engineering, it’s called a signal-and-noise problem. The point is to identify the signal before noise seeps into the system and obscures it. HR and robo-hiring vendors (“HR technology”) introduce more and more pre-processing into recruiting and hiring — and that adds noise. The best candidates — the signals — get lost or rejected long before any hiring manager gets to judge them properly. Managers can’t hear the best candidates.

Gullible HR executives have turned hiring into a big, noisy system by adding more and more technology to what’s really a simple task. It’s no surprise that an engineer like you — who designs technology — knows what its limits are.

The single best reason for you to take this job is the manager’s integrity and commitment to hiring right. You made a wise choice to reject a counter-offer. You’re going to work with people who realize hiring is a critical task. (See The manager’s #1 job.) This demonstrates their commitment to employees, too.

Kudos to your new boss and employer for how they hire and treat job applicants. It should be a signal to those who are crying they can’t find good hires because they’re too busy terrorizing them with superfluous HR technology.

Do you have any positive experiences to share about how you were hired? No doubt employers are waiting to learn how to do it right — so let’s give them some examples.

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Kelly Webcast Q&A

KellyOCG-lg-140x60I just delivered a webcast for Kelly OCG, produced by HCI.org, to hundreds of HR folks from around the world — about how to add value to the recruiting and hiring process at their companies.

How to:

  1. Create a competitive advantage for their companies when hiring in a challenging job market
  2. Attract and engage the best talent
  3. Avoid letting HR become a roadblock between managers and the best job candidates

We did some Q&A, but we ran out of time, so I offered to take more questions here. If you didn’t get a chance to bring up an issue you’d like to discuss, please ask away and I’ll do my best to respond here! Thanks for joining me on the webcast!

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Should you sign an NCA? Not so fast!

Quick Question

sign-thisI was offered a job with a small tech company. The NCA that they asked me to sign was so broad that it would have prevented me from taking a job with any other company writing embedded software. When I balked at signing it, they told me I would have to talk to to someone in their legal department.

I walked into their lawyer’s office and explained my objections. His reply: “If I were in your position, I wouldn’t sign that either. Let’s strike out the paragraphs you object to.” What do you think of that?

Nick’s Quick Advice

This is an instructive story about NCAs (non-compete agreements). Thanks for sharing it. It’s also a good lesson about negotiating job offers. It’s not just about the money!

People don’t always believe me when I tell them NCAs (and NDAs, or non-disclosure agreements) are very often negotiable, mainly because they’re ridiculous, and the legal people who write them know it.

These employers figure no one would question or refuse to sign “a necessary legal document” — especially when a new job hinges on it. And most job applicants wouldn’t dare. The lawyers go overboard and include terms and restrictions “just because they can.”

It makes you wonder how many people before you signed that thing simply because they felt intimidated.

I’d love to ask that lawyer whether he thinks it’s ethical for his company to keep using that document, and whether — now that he’s acknowledged how ridiculous it is — he’ll cancel NCAs that other employees have signed and produce a more reasonable agreement.

Or maybe the employer should just fire the lawyer who wrote it and behave more responsibly toward its employees and the people it’s trying to recruit.

I won’t even get into my opinion of an employer that can’t explain an obligation it wants a job candidate to sign — without sending you to its lawyer!

For more about NCAs, see How can I negotiate an NCA or NDA?

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Negotiate a better job offer by saying YES

In the July 26, 2016 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a reader plans to reject a job offer that might be saved.

Question

yes-butIn Fearless Job Hunting Book 9, Be The Master of Job Offers you suggest how to decline an offer when you have two job offers — so as not to burn my bridges. I’ve got a different problem. I should decline a job offer but I don’t want to!

While I have not received an offer yet, it became clear after the final interview last week that this department is not flexible about working hours. The job is in the middle of Boston, and it would increase my commute time. I am not willing to do that for this position. I want the offer, but can I be honest about the commute time as the reason I would decline?

Nick’s Reply

I’d be frank about your commute problem if they make an offer. But if you want to avoid ending the discussion, there’s a way to finesse it.

When I want to say no to a deal, I like to take an affirmative approach. So I say YES but. If all the other terms are to your liking, ask yourself, What would make me want to accept the offer?

Start with YES

Then phrase your response to the offer like this.

How to Say It
“I’d like to accept your offer. I want the job and I want to work on your team. But I’d like to discuss the terms with you, if you’re amenable to it.”

(You’re not actually accepting the offer. You’re starting a negotiation by saying you’d like to take it. Remember that negotiations aren’t just about money! There are lots of terms you can negotiate.)

Pause and let them respond. They’ll ask you, What terms?

How to Say It
“The problem is the commute. We all know commuting in and around Boston is a big challenge. The traffic is horrible. But I can deal with it if you could make an accommodation on the work hours. I’ll of course work at least X hours per day. I want to make sure I’d be delivering the value and work you need from me – I don’t expect you to compromise on that. But can we discuss a flexible work schedule to help me deal with the traffic?”

Note that you’re not demanding anything. You are asking for a discussion. No matter how they respond, you will have given an affirmative response and a request for a reasonable accommodation. If they blow it at that point, it’s on them.

Commitment enables negotiations

The power of this approach lies in starting out with YES. This is what most of the negotiating methods I discuss in Be The Master of Job Offers are about: — saying YES that means maybe, if you’ll work with me on the terms. This tells them the main question is already resolved – you want the job. All that remains is working out the terms, which you’ve indicated you’re happy to discuss, after you’ve notified them that the commute is the issue.

Believe it or not, the most important commitment you can make to an employer is to say you want the job. That commitment puts you on good footing to discuss terms.

Try it. The worst that will happen is they’ll say no. But when you’ve indicated you want the job, an employer is more likely to come back with an alternative that’s good for both of you.

I wish you the best with this. These two articles may be helpful when you’re negotiating:

Don’t let employers always call the shots

The Bad-Business Job Offer: Negotiating not allowed!

How do you negotiate when you want a job, but the terms are not to your liking? What would you do in this case?

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Is my MBA degree hurting me?

Quick Question

How do I overcome, on a resume or in an interview, the fact that my MBA is from the University of Phoenix? I graduated in 2006. UoP has received so much bad press that I’m concerned my education will not be taken seriously, and that it might be a detriment to my career advancement. Thank you for your advice.

Nick’s Quick Advice

What’s happened with UoP is unfortunate, but don’t let it get in your way.

It seems that MBA degrees have the most impact on hiring decisions when they come from big-name schools. Otherwise, they don’t seem to mean a lot “out of the box.” (That is, on your resume.) Of course, if you learned something while getting the MBA (like finance) that’s necessary for a job you want, then it may make a difference. I’m not knocking MBA degrees.

Putting UoP’s reputation aside, I think what matters more than any kind of degree is personal referrals and recommendations. That’s what gets you in the door. There is nothing like a personal, professional endorsement. Employers consistently say that’s the biggest factor, aside from the applicant’s skills and experience.

Likewise, contrary to the marketing hype, your resume is not your “marketing piece,” nor will it get you in the door. Used by itself, all it does is force you into the Resume Grinder where an algorithm will sort you among millions of your competitors.

Personal referrals are a much more powerful alternative.

You can’t change the name of the school on your MBA. But you can do a lot to leverage good referrals. For advice on how to do that, see Please stop networking.

There’s lots more advice on this topic in Fearless Job Hunting, Book 3: Get in The Door (way ahead of your competition). See especially the sections titled:

  • “It’s the people, Stupid” pp. 5-8 (No, you’re not stupid, but this article will show you how people act stupidly when they don’t focus on  personal referrals.)
  • “Drop the ads and pick up the phone” pp. 9-11

Most important, to learn how to turn references into referrals, see:

  • “Don’t provide references — launch them” pp. 23-25

Don’t worry about your MBA. Just get to work on personal referrals. And be careful about where you buy your education!

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New Grads: Send a robo-dog to job interviews!

In the July 19, 2016 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a reader bemoans the effect of “stupid” technology on hiring. He doesn’t realize he needs to get a dog.

Question

robo-dogI saw a disturbing story on Bloomberg: Goldman Scraps On-Campus Interviews for Robo-Recruiting. It’s about how fewer companies are doing on-campus interviews because of the lack of jobs. Rather, some companies are having a machine do the interview. I cannot tell you how stupid I think this is. I am sure you will agree.

As an electrical engineer, I have to say that this is a misuse of technology — people like me might make such technology possible. I’m tired of hearing about “disruptive technology.” If this is the future, I want no part of it. What is happening here?

Nick’s Reply

Employers have given new grads no choice but to send robo-dogs to their job interviews to woof it up with the employers’ robots.

At the same time companies like Goldman Sachs complain there’s a skills shortage, they demonstrate a complete lack of recruiting acumen.

CNN reports there’s a surplus of talent (College job hunt gets tougher as campus interviews fade):

About 12.6% of college grads are underemployed, meaning they don’t work enough hours.

Then CNN quotes a recruiter:

There is a real skills gap. [Many college grads] don’t know where their education and skills fit in the workforce.

It seems this “Wall Street titan” can’t figure out what to do with skills and education, either.

How does this smell?

CNN says “the U.S. economy has a record number of job openings.” The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms there are 5.6 million open jobs.

NewsHour’s Paul Solman calculates that around 19.5 million Americans are either unemployed, under-employed, or looking for a job even though they’re no longer counted as unemployed or as part of the work force.

That’s a ratio of 3.5 job seekers to every vacant job. While not all job seekers are qualified, there’s hardly a talent shortage. But employers like Goldman Sachs claim there is — so, what do they do to pick the right candidates?

Edith Cooper, Goldman’s global head of human capital management, says she’s got a really novel way to recruit and entice the elusive qualified new grad. She has stopped sending humans to interview them:

We’re trying to take out an individual’s assessment of talent.

CNN elucidates this new strategy:

The Wall Street titan announced last week it will ditch on-campus interviews starting next year for undergraduates in favor of an automated interview recorded by HireVue, a Utah-based company that creates software for recruitment.

The aforementioned recruiter explains this supply-and-demand rationale:

A generation ago…the employer came to the candidate. Now the candidate has to find the employer.

If the head of Goldman’s HR isn’t getting it, here’s an analogy the head of sales might understand. There are millions of investors hungry for good investments, so Goldman’s stock brokers should stop selling — and wait for investors to beg for a Goldman account.

Beg to work for us!

In a job-seeker’s market, new grads must subject themselves to machine interviews, invest their time filling out online applications, and wait like starving dogs to be fed. Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs HR managers get paid to wait for bots to do their hiring. Disintermediation, anyone?

dog-bot-2It seems not to occur to the Goldman Sachs of the world that they can’t find talent because they’re not looking for talent. It’s the proverbial story of washing your hands with rubber gloves on. It’s surrogate interviewing. Outsourced hiring. To use another metaphor, rather than going out to meet the talent, Goldman Sachs is sending a robo-dog named HireVue with a note in its mouth. Machine interviewing.

I’ve written about the likes of HireVue before: HR Pornography: Interview videos, WTF! Inflatable Interviewer Dolls? This is not disruptive technology. This is outsourced corporate irresponsibility.

In the midst of the claimed “talent and skills shortage,” CNN says the percentage of big-name employers that go to college campuses to recruit has dropped from 89% in 2007 to 76% today. They’re so desperate to find and hire talent that they’ve stopped recruiting! Worse, in a job-seeker’s market, Goldman tells job seekers to do tricks to get jobs.

Automated Personal Service

Recruiting requires selling — something a stock brokerage company should know a lot about. It requires personal contact, persuasion and, yes, a soft touch. Especially during a talent shortage.

Let’s go back to that analogy. In an effort to boost sales, Goldman Sachs tells its stock brokers to stop selling. Instead, the company publishes advertisements notifying investors that if they want to do business with Goldman, they must log-on to a third-party website and record their request for help with their investments. The selection algorithms are waiting! If you qualify, Goldman may do business with you.

Better yet, imagine this. You make it past the HireVue machine and Goldman invites you for a real interview. You respond with a link to your website and invite Goldman to record answers to questions that your own software will analyze to determine whether Goldman qualifies as a place you’d like to work.

Now, that’s automated personal service only a bank can appreciate!

Send in your dog

Elise Gould, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, said to CNN:

Recent college graduates are having a hard time finding a job — finding a good job has become much more difficult.

robo-dog-3I’ve got an idea to make it easier on graduates.

Goldman schedules an interview where a personnel jockey will conduct a screening interview before you are permitted to meet the hiring manager. (Remember: There’s a talent shortage and Goldman is really desperate to impress and entice good applicants.)

Here’s the good part. You hire your own dog. You send a surrogate to the interview, so you won’t waste your time. (Perhaps you rent the dog from HireVue.) If anyone asks how you dare to send a dog with a note in its mouth, you cite the CNN article:

Goldman says it’s trying to weed out any biases between job candidates and interviewers, such as mutual friends, interests in the same sports or same schools.

You’re just trying to make sure the interview is fair and unbiased.

Do robots dream of job offers?

Is Goldman Sachs really suffering from a talent shortage and skills gap? While new college grads are dreaming of job offers, are industry titans working hard to find, recruit and hire those rare applicants they really need?

HireVue CEO Mark Newman is laughing all the way to the bank. I’m laughing at Goldman Sachs’ HR managers, who are deploying auto-mutts to bark at college grads. Woof!

If you’re the talent, and you know how difficult you are to find, I refer you back to last week’s column — with apologies for yet another metaphor: Tell HR you don’t talk to the hand. (For some solutions, see HR Managers: Do your job, or get out.)

What do you think? Are new grads just not ready for real jobs? Or are employers not ready to hire anyone? Maybe you should throw the employer’s bot a digital bone.

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Tell HR you don’t talk to the hand


Why does Ask The Headhunter look different? Because it’s mo’ betta! Learn all about it!


In the July 12, 2016 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a reader refuses to waste time interviewing with HR.

Question

talk-to-the-hand-2Your column HR Managers: Do your job, or get out reminded me that most of what HR does makes no sense, and it’s not smart to bend to HR’s will when I’m looking for a job.

HR always wants me to do a meeting with them first, before they’ll let me talk to the hiring manager, but that’s a guarantee of doom! HR knows nothing about the work I do, and rejects me before I can even meet with someone who is qualified to judge me and what I can do. I know your advice is to tell HR I won’t talk to the hand, but how do I actually say that without sounding like a jerk?

Nick’s Reply

“How to say it” is a big part of Ask The Headhunter — and I know this is where people often stumble. They know they have to push back sometimes, when an employer makes demands, but they freeze up when it comes to actually expressing themselves.

I get it. I used to wonder what the problem was, but I’ve realized that unless you’re dealing with these situations all the time, it’s hard to come up with the right words. Some readers can do it; others can’t. (If headhunters didn’t know how to do it, we’d starve.)

The specific challenge you’re facing is something I wrote about in detail in Fearless Job Hunting, Book 4, Overcome Human Resources Obstacles, pp. 5-6. Here’s how to tell HR you don’t talk to the hand:

Candidates don’t realize they can insist on interviewing only with the manager. (Why waste time with anyone else?)

How to Say It
If the employer insists that you meet with a personnel jockey before the hiring manager, try this:

“I’m afraid my schedule is very busy, and my time is limited. I’d be glad to meet with a representative from your HR department, but only after the hiring manager and I have met and decided that there’s a clear, mutual interest in working together. Once that’s established, of course I’ll make time to meet with HR.”

If the company balks, be firm.

”Thanks for your interest, but I’m afraid I’ll have to pass. If the manager decides to meet with me, I’d be glad to schedule some time.”

Then let it go. Move on to another opportunity, where the employer respects you and your time.

Is this risky? Of course it is. But so is wasting your time with someone who isn’t qualified to evaluate you. “Playing along” isn’t going to change this. It’ll just demoralize and frustrate you. (See How HR optimizes rejection of millions of job applicants.)

The approach I recommend emphasizes that your time is not free — it’s valuable. And, while you might respect HR’s role in hiring, you’re no dummy — you know that only the hiring manager is qualified to judge you. If the employer is really interested in you, HR will back off and respect your wishes and your time. If they’re just putting you through a mindless meat grinder, then it’s better to find out up front. That’s what makes this a good test of whether you’re looking at a real opportunity, or the blind leading the blind.

I’m glad you found the HR Managers: Do your job or get out helpful. But it wasn’t just a challenge to HR. It’s also a challenge to you. Are you willing to stand up for yourself, and for sound business practices?

HR’s behavior will not change as long as job seekers keep agreeing to silly demands. Why would you want to get screened by HR, when HR isn’t expert in the work you do? Would you let the gardener tell you not to knock on the homeowner’s door? (See Should I accept HR’s rejection letter?) You don’t have to talk to the hand.

If you want to optimize your chances of winning the right job, keep your standards high, and don’t do foolish things just because someone tells you to. Insist on meeting with the hiring manager first.

Are there “magic words” you use when HR confronts you with unreasonable demands while you’re applying for a job? Please tell us “how you say it” when you tell HR to take a hike. Let’s talk about where you draw the line, and about what works.

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The NEW Ask The Headhunter!

Question

What’s all this????

Nick’s Reply

Well… the old website was looking kinda beat… for a long time! And the blog… well, the design was out of time. Welcome to the NEW Ask The Headhunter!

After much futzing around (sorry!), I’ve merged the website and the blog — and I hope you like the results! Both are in the same place — asktheheadhunter.com.

Getting around

  • To get to the blog, just go to Ask The Headhunter and click Blog up at the top in the menu.
  • To get to the old, original Ask The Headhunter website, click ATH Website in the menu. (It still looks the same — until I move all those articles into the new layout…)

We’ve got mobile!

If you prefer to access Ask The Headhunter on your mobile device, you know the blog has always looked good, but the website was not “mobile-ized.” Now that changes — I’ll be rolling out the original ATH articles in mobile format, making it easier to access everything on the new site. It’s coming gradually…

Bookmarks

  • Your bookmarks to pages on the old website (asktheheadhunter.com) still work — the URLs have not changed, and the pages are still here. However, they’re still in the old format. One at a time, I’ll be moving (editing and beefing up) each of those articles to the new format. Then they’ll get new URLs and you should save the new bookmarks (URLs).
  • Your bookmarks to blog posts (which look like corcodilos.com/blog/[post]) should automatically convert to this new site! You might want to save the new URLs as new bookmarks.

Threaded comments

New! This is something I think is critical on any site where there’s lots of discussion — being able to comment on someone else’s comment right beneath theirs, and to view discussion on a comment as a “thread” off the original. This always frustrated me on the old blog — you had to go looking for comments related to one another.

2 ways to post comments:

  • To reply to someone else’s comment, click “Reply” at the end of any existing comment, and your reply will appear right beneath that comment, indented.
  • To reply to the post, use “Leave a Reply” way down at the bottom of all the comments — and your comment will appear at the bottom of the list of comments.

Hope you love this new feature as much as I do!

Surprises

Almost daily, you’ll see things on this new site moving around, new things cropping up, stuff looking a bit different… while I work to get it looking and working the way I want. I opted not to wait to launch it until everything was just so — where’s the fun in that? But I promise to try and keep the site neat and tidy and easy to navigate while I keep working on it.

Help me find bugs!

The lovely new layout is a work in progress — I really wanted to get it online as soon as possible, so you’ll find some broken links (both in the new and old areas), and stuff that just doesn’t look or work right. (My apologies in advance!) I hope you’ll take a minute to let me know when you find these! Please comment below!

Comments, Suggestions, Complaints

Please tell me what you think of the new site! I want to know! That includes the look and feel (fonts, colors, functionality, ease of use) — anything you want to comment on. I’m all ears, and I’ll consider any suggestions. I want to make the new Ask The Headhunter pleasing, easy to use, and better all-around than the old site and blog.

There’s more!

And wait till you see some of the new features that are coming! The technology behind this new site will let me add videos, audio, entirely new content sections, and more! Got ideas — stuff you’d like to see? Please add your thoughts below!

Meanwhile, thanks for your patience with these changes. I’ve been looking forward to updating the Ask The Headhunter “properties” online. And I’m giddy!

The best thing about Ask The Headhunter is you — the community of smart, engaging, opinionated, vocal, friendly, helpful, articulate people who comment and share their advice and ideas on all the topics we dicuss. Thank you for making this the insider’s edge on job search and hiring!

– Nick Corcodilos

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HR Managers: Do your job, or get out

In the June 28, 2016 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, several readers raise questions about HR that we can’t keep ignoring.

Questions

this-way-outReader 1: Back in the 20th century, employers actually reviewed resumes by reading them rather than scanning them into a computerized ranking system. Keywords have turned hiring into a pass-the-buck game, with HR complaining it can’t find talent! Well, HR isn’t looking for talent. HR isn’t looking for anything. Phony algorithms are keeping the talent unemployed while HR gets paid to do something else! The question is, what is HR doing?

Reader 2: Two weeks after receiving a written offer from this company — and after I quit my old job and moved — HR sends me an e-mail saying there’s no job. That’s right: They hired me and fired me before I started! What am I supposed to do now? I can’t go back to my old job — I quit. The HR person who gave me the offer still has her job. Shouldn’t she be fired?

Reader 3: I was selected for a new, better job paying more money after rounds of interviews. I was all set to start when my HR department called me in to say the job was withdrawn due to budget problems. This was for a promotion at my own company! How did they have the budget a month ago when they posted the job and gave it to me, but not now? What can I do?

Reader 4: My friend attended a business roundtable where multiple employers complained they couldn’t find people. She stood up and said she was a member of several large job-search networking groups, with an aggregate membership of thousands in the Boston area. She offered to put them in touch, help them post positions, and contacted them multiple times afterwards to help facilitate this. Nobody has taken her up on it. Talent shortage my…!

Nick’s Reply

This edition of Ask The Headhunter is dedicated to good Human Resources (HR) managers who work hard to ensure their companies behave with integrity and in a businesslike manner toward job applicants — and who actually recruit.

This is also a challenge to the rest. Do the readers’ complaints above mystify or offend you? You cannot pretend to manage “human resources” while allowing your companies — and your profession — to run amuck in the recruiting and hiring process.

The problems described above are on you — on HR. It’s your job to fix them. Either raise your HR departments’ standards of behavior, or quit your jobs and eliminate the HR role altogether at your companies.

Here are some simple suggestions about very obvious problems in HR:

Stop rescinding offers.

oopsBudget problems may impact hiring and internal promotions, but it’s HR’s job to make sure all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed before HR makes offers that impact people’s lives. Don’t make job offers if you don’t have the authority to follow through. If your company doesn’t give you that authority, then quit your job because you look like an idiot for having a job you’re not allowed to do. What happens to every job applicant is on you. (See Pop Quiz: Can an employer take back a job offer?)

Stop recruiting people then ignoring them.

In other words, stop soliciting people you have no intention of interviewing or hiring. More is not better. If it’s impossible to handle all job applicants personally and respectfully, then you’re recruiting the wrong people and too many of them. Either treat every applicant with the respect you expect them to show you and your company, or stop recruiting — until you have put a system in place that’s accurate and respectful. Having control over people’s careers isn’t a license to waste anyone’s time. Your company’s rudeness in hiring starts with you. (See How HR optimizes rejection of millions of job applicants.)

Stop recruiting stupidly.

stupidThe job of recruiting is about identifying and enticing the right candidates for jobs at your company. It’s not about soliciting everyone who has an e-mail address, and then complaining your applicants are unqualified or unskilled. You can’t fish with a bucket.

You say you use the same services everyone else uses to recruit? Where’s the edge in that? Paying Indeed or LinkedIn or Monster.com so you can search for needles in their haystacks is not recruiting. It’s stupid. Soliciting too many people who are not good candidates means you’re not doing your job. If you don’t know how to recruit intelligently, get another job. (See Reductionist Recruiting: A short history of why you can’t get hired.)

Stop demanding salary history.

It’s. None. Of. Your. Business. And it makes you look silly.

tell-meI have a standing challenge to anyone in HR: Give me one good reason why you need to know how much money a job applicant is making. No HR worker has ever been able to explain it rationally.

It’s private information. It’s personal. It’s private. It’s shameful to ask for it. Do you tell job applicants how much you make, or how much the manager makes, or how much the last person in the job was paid? If you need to know what another employer paid someone in order to judge what your company should pay them, then you’re worthless in the hiring process. You don’t know how to judge value. HR is all about judging the value of workers. You don’t belong in HR. (See Should I disclose my salary history?)


Get an edge when HR gets in your way!

Ask The Headhunter PDF Books

Fearless Job Hunting

How Can I Change Careers?

Keep Your Salary Under Wraps

How to Work With Headhunters

Parting Company | How to leave your job

Employment Tests: Get The Edge!

Overcome the daunting obstacles that stop other job hunters dead in their tracks!


Stop avoiding hiring decisions.

In a market as competitive as today’s, if it takes you weeks to make a hiring decision after interviewing candidates, then either you’re not managing human resources properly, or you’re not managing the hiring managers in your company. Qualified job applicants deserve answers. Taking too long to make a choice means you have no skin in the game, and that makes you a dangerous business person. After you waste too many applicants’ time, your reputation — and your company’s — is sealed. With a rep like that, good luck trying to get hired yourself.

Stop complaining there’s a talent or skills shortage.

There’s not. With 19.5 million people unemployed, under-employed, and looking for work (even if they’re no longer counted as cry-babypart of the workforce), there’s plenty of talent out there to fill the 5.6 million vacant jobs in America. (See News Flash! HR causes talent shortage!) Recruit is a verb. Get out there and find the talent!

If your idea of recruiting is to sit on your duff and wait for Mr. or Ms. Perfect to come along on your “Applicant Tracking System,” then quit your job. If your idea of recruiting is to pay a headhunter $20,000 to fill an $80,000 job, then you are the talent shortage. Your company should fire you.

“Human Resources Management” doesn’t mean waiting for perfect hires to come along. Ask your HR ancestors: They used to do training and development to improve the skills and talent of their hires — as a way of creating competitive value for their companies.

The good HR professionals know who they are. The rest behave like they don’t know what they’re doing and like they don’t care. We’re giving you a wake-up call. Do your job, or get out.

My challenge to HR professionals: If you aren’t managing the standard of conduct toward job applicants at your company, if you aren’t really recruiting, if you’re not creating a competitive edge for your company by developing and training your hires, then you should quit your own job. If you aren’t promoting high business standards within the HR profession, then there’s no reason for HR to exist. Your company can run amuck without you.

To everyone else: How do these problems in HR affect you?

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