Why Great Candidates Struggle To Get Hired

Very few creative thinkers want to be a cog, yet that’s precisely the person leaders at companies want to hire. They are looking for you to “fit” their organization without thinking for one second perhaps they should change aspects of their business to fit you. While company leaders complain about the talent shortage, great candidates struggle to get hired.

A piece by Jessica Liebman, Editor of Business Insider, has the headline “I’ve been hiring people for 10 years, and I still swear by a simple rule: If someone doesn’t send a thank-you email, don’t hire them.” It struck me as odd. The idea comes from a perspective where candidates need the company, but the company has no use for the candidate outside of a utilitarian cog or piece of meat to be consumed. Do candidates demand thank you emails for all the time they waste on interviews?

“Sure, maybe you had them take a test or complete an exercise, and you talked to three people who worked with them previously. But still, you never really know how it’s going to work out until they come on board. And sometimes even the most promising hires turn out to be the wrong fit.” Liebman says.

She’s not completely wrong. Thank you notes are a great idea for candidates. You’ll see no arguments from me. But reducing someone to a single email? As I read the piece, it seemed as if employment was very much a one-way street. This perspective is common. Organizations craft a hiring process to weed out people and mitigate risk, not find great creative minds. This distinction is a big deal.

Creating Their Own Talent Shortage

A process designed to mitigate risk sees nothing wrong with sucking down candidates valuable time, requiring them to jump through hoops, personality tests, three to six interviews or more, capping it off with the familiar promise to reach out, but never contact the candidate. At best, they’ll call weeks past their own deadline after the company has hired someone that was picked because they represented the lowest “risk.”

HR departments that are designed to mitigate risk never see great employees who lost interest in the company because they didn’t feel valued. Great candidates struggle to get hired in these cases because they want an authentic respectful relationship, and the company doesn’t.

Would an executive who signs off on these HR processes that ask repetitive questions, be content when experiencing a similar process calling a customer service number? Of course not, but THIS is exactly how they look to candidates. Incompetent at best, and at worst just plain cruel.

Many hiring processes are a giant red flag to great candidates who understand their own value. These processes send the message “your ideas aren’t welcome and your time isn’t respected here.” Is it any wonder why there is now a trend of candidates ghosting employers? Is it any wonder why those who actually do make it through the obstacle course of their hiring process have an engagement rate of 34%, (sadly, the highest Gallup has recorded)?

High attrition, lack of ownership in objectives, and low engagement aren’t unfortunate circumstances that befall organizations at random, they are symptoms of the hiring process. Companies aren’t victims of a talent shortage, they’re creating it.

Why Great Candidates Struggle To Get Hired

Great candidates struggle to get hired because HR folks and executives judge their interview, resume and potential to change their company on one aspect, such as “did they send a thank you email?” — an email some candidates very well may be avoiding to not appear as too desperate or annoying.

It seems that every choice for a candidate is the wrong choice. Every HR manager, every executive and everyone involved in the interview process is laying their own landmines into the hiring process and if you step inches in the wrong direction, you’re chances at the job are blown away. HR pro. Liz Ryan finds the entire process disgusting.

Audio Clip of the interview

 How HR and Candidates Fix It

HR is broken because it’s designed to be a defensive entity, rather than a resource-gathering entity. HR needs to stop caring about damage to the company and shift focus on hiring those that are most likely to push the company forward. This isn’t an easy task, which is why company leadership needs to give HR the grace they need to do their job. This is the only way they will fix your talent shortage.

Candidates have a role as well. It’s up to them to politely and directly decline interviews the correct way. Ghosting isn’t the answer because HR can’t get good feedback. And becoming hostile won’t work either because HR will dig their heels in. Instead, candidates should explain politely how you were turned off by the process and withdraw your name or decline the job offer.

If everyone works together on this, great candidates won’t struggle to get hired, and the talent shortage will evaporate. We need to stop hiring cogs in favor of the creative.

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