Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Making Online Hiring More Efficient For HR And For Hiring Managers

This post applies both to human resources and to the hiring managers who give assignments to HR. You have to make sure your listing is actionable. 

Almost everyone has sent a résumé to a company in response to an on-line job listing and then heard nothing back. It is maddening.  It happens because those listings don’t contain the appropriate information and candidates are responding “blind” and the person or computer screening the resume doesn’t necessarily have the right information to evaluate the resume submissions.

One listing I recently saw, and this is an exact quote, “We are looking for several qualified candidates in account management.  Three to 12 years’ experience.  Appropriate candidates must be passionate, committed and willing to work hard.”  That was it. Nothing more.

Huh?  This is inviting dozens, if not hundreds of inappropriate responses.  The company surely knows who it is looking for and what their real background should be, yet it is nowhere in this listing.  This is the rule rather than the exception.

First, we all know that the most important aspect of any job is a prospective employee’s ability to actually do the job, not their number of years’ experience, not their passion and not their college or degree.  I just saw a listing for a company looking for a marketing director.  The first part of the spec was “8-10 years’ experience”, but it said nothing about the company and nothing about the job itself. This job post is absolutely guaranteed to bring in the wrong people. Generic listings are totally inactionable.  Now, would someone with fourteen years or eighteen years’ experience be disqualified?  Should they be disqualified?  And if someone has only six years’ experience, but has handled whatever the issue is, be excluded?

One of the problems becomes that neither the mechanical scanner (key words) nor the person doing the résumé scanning may not have enough knowledge about either the job or the résumé they are looking at to enable them to evaluate the résumé and interview the candidate.  This happens frequently.

A brief description of the issues and problems (those that can be aired publically) should be included so that responders actually know what the job is.  For instance, if the job calls for 60-70% travel, why not include it?  Saying that in the listing will preclude the wrong people from answering.
Qualified candidates are constantly commenting to me that they submitted a résumé to a company that they would like to work for, but never heard back. And, their complaint goes on, they would be perfect for the listed position, at least on the surface. 

I know that companies don’t like to put salaries in job postings, but salaries are a more effective screening tool.  It won’t preclude juniors from applying, but listing salaries is effective in eliminating people who make more money than the job pays (unless they are willing to take a job cut. See below.).

All hiring managers should double check the on-line listings for the jobs they want to fill.  In addition, I would propose other steps to be taken. 

Rather than merely looking at résumés, all job postings should require an applicant to submit a cover letter telling the company why they are qualified to interview for the job.  This requires more work on the part of the company, but is far more efficient and beneficial and will save the company time in the long run.  First, it enables the company to determine how articulate a candidate is and how well they write.  If the cover letter is inarticulate or way too long, it enables a company to effectively screen.  Second, it gives the company a real tool which will enable them to properly evaluate a résumé and a candidate.  It gives the candidate space to sell themselves and say why they are qualified for the job.

I have written before about companies acknowledging résumés that are submitted.  It is so easy to create a form email and send to applicants.  A simple email can be a great and positive gesture and create good will.  And it eliminates the anger which comes from not hearing anything back.
Since so much hiring is done through on-line recruiting, it behooves a company to make it as efficient for them as possible.  And it will help candidates to truly understand whether a job is right for them or not.


  1. I have always thought that online recruitment ads or postings stating “8-10 years’ experience” (or whatever) were/are designed to accomplish three things: 1) To legitimately define the level or range of desired experience expected and required for the position; 2) To suggest a salary range without actually stating compensation; and 3) To discourage unemployed and/or overqualified “seniors” from applying in order to avoid any claims of overt age discrimination. Am I right about this? Just wondering ...

    1. Anon: Your first point is correct; giving the number of years is someone's idea of an ideal, however the other two points give too much credit to the company. I don't think that they are intentionally trying to either suggest a salary range (there is just too wide a range) or to discourage seniors. I wrote within the last couple of weeks about ageism but I don't think that there is an intention to discourage senior people from applying.


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