Is Anyone Listening?

The age-old complaint has resurfaced. Job seekers place little value in using recruiters because they aren’t reliable.

An applicant will be induced to apply for a very alluring sounding position, whether permanent or through a staffing agency. But when they get past the application, all sorts of little bugs start creeping out of the woodwork that weren’t expect. New conditions, new requirements, new qualifications. Those are predicated on the fact that the office actually exists.

Another amazing thing that happens is, after enduring an hour or so of machine assisted testing and achieving high scores on each test, the position turns out to be something that doesn’t require that much expertise and the firm doesn’t typically send people out who have that much. They only want the most basic skills possible. Next, the new candidate is told they will be called when something comes up. Someone else was sent out on the advertised situation. Or, there is another opportunity but the rate will be a little lower than the one in the ad. Can you start tomorrow?

Some agencies are a reflection of the fact that humans are part of the wheels that turn. Office functions must be done. Sometimes things get overlooked or lost or misplaced or sent to the wrong place. But it’s the temp who gets blamed for the difficulty and the blame is cemented to the worker’s reputation. Applicants are now very wary of temp agencies.

A Drawer Full of Resumes

One recruiter who did permanent placements had an entire drawer full of engineering resumes that had not been reviewed. Needless to say, the applicants had not been contacted at all. Did any of them meet some of the criteria for new orders? Well, they needed to be organized so why not make that determination while doing the sorting and organizing.

I was the researcher in that firm. The engineering terminology and highlights of career accomplishments weren’t part of my vocabulary. I went to the recruiter to seek clarification about the language. Unfortunately, he had about as much knowledge as I did. The resumes went back into a stack and filed away.

The Other Side of the Coin

Applicants and candidates also have some failings that need to be corrected. So let’s not lay all of the blame for failed opportunities at the feet of the recruiter. Stephen cites some very valid counter arguments. Also notable is the fact that he’s willing to own up to some of the errors that are committed.

Mike (another recruiter) groaned one day about a candidate who seemed to be intentionally obstinate. But the candidate hemmed and hawed about setting a date for a personal interview. It must have been their desire to not look too anxious. They agreed to a phone (not an in-person) interview, maybe. And the date and time of even the phone interview couldn’t be nailed down. The situation raised a lot of questions. Perhaps the office was too far in terms of travel. Then, again, with the cost of gasoline, it could be the candidate didn’t have gas money and didn’t want to admit that. Who knows what bugaboos were attacking that candidate’s ability to meet the invitation. The point is, they did not and had no reasonable explanations for their change in direction. Would gentle probing for the reason have helped? No matter. Opportunity lost.

Job Market

News informs us that the job market is softening. There are more jobs available. The difficulty with the news is that we aren’t told what quality of jobs are blossoming. Are they permanent jobs, entry level, across the enterprise, focused in just one industry, or are they temporary jobs?

No matter what types of jobs they are, another concern is the rate of pay. Job seekers are also weary of attempting to make ends meet with minimum wages of $7.25 (federal) or as much as $10 per hour. It simply isn’t a livable wage these days. There are true stories of people who are working two and three jobs in order to support their families. One of the ways they finally manage to do so is by virtue of the fact that there’s another wage earner in the household. But they still don’t have health insurance.

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Starbucks Urban Legend and Taking Responsibility

A few days ago someone posted a comment to one of my profiles. It passed on a rumor about Starbucks and their cavalier attitude toward support of troops in Iraq. It continued by citing other instances of Starbucks insensitivity and urged others to share the message as well as refrain from patronizing the business.

There were certain things about the phrasing of the message that just didn’t set right. With greater time to consider the accusations would come better analysis of the situation. Even if Starbucks was guilty of the acts of which they were accused, many businesses have policies with regard to charitable acts and the latest urban legend about Starbucks had the ring of business policy as the rationale for the stance, not insensitivity. Since there was not enough time to investigate the allegations nor the Starbucks policy, I did nothing in regard to the posting. I allowed it to simply sit on my profile until there was time to do the research and take the time to reason through the impugning acts.

Interestingly, the same friend who posted the alleging message retracted the statement. The following simple message appeared in my Comments this afternoon: “Please review this, fair is fair, thx. Check out Snopes:

http://www.snopes.com/politics/military/starbucks.asp

Someone took the time to research the legend on Snopes and found the truth of the matter, plus more, and posted their findings to my friend. My friend acted responsibly and it felt good to know that in my circle of relationships, there are people who ultimately do the right thing. But this was obviously a teaching moment. It was seized and the following message was shared with the friend as well as other associates who also had the legend posted to their profile page:

l didn’t forward your post to anyone. Yours was probably the second posting I received on my own page and I saw similar ones on the pages of other Tagged profiles.

While there was a desire to object to the information based on familiarity with typical corporate policies on charitable donations, I simply have not had time (nor energy) to go to Snopes and research the issue more fully. I’m glad you did and I’m even more grateful and elated that you have chosen to do what is required by law in regard to defamation. That policy is to post a retraction to every place where the “speaker” has shared the information.

The other interesting thing about defamation is each time a false publication about someone or some business is posted, the one who publishes the information is considered a new initiater of the defamation and is culpable for their act. One of the remedies for defamation is that the falseness of the original message be admitted to at each place where the originator of the false information shared it.

If any of those who received that false message shared or published it elsewhere, they also bear the responsibility to post a retraction and admission of their discovery that the information is false. This is not an act that is of a “when I have time” nature. It must be done immediately. Again, I’m very glad of your posting this retraction to me.

This incident brings to bear how often we in the employment industry rely on information at first blush. In particular, it is very close to doing reference checks based on interviews and statements from former supervisors or employers. The positive or negative remarks flow from a person who holds a responsible position. The words must, of necessity, be true. Few, if any, research the reference or try to learn whether the evaluator’s remarks carry retaliatory intent. No one investigates the history of the evaluator in order to determine whether they have a history of abusive behavior. There’s an assumption that the recommendation or detracting statements are valid and not from the mouth of a bully. It would be ideal if Human Resource departments and recruiters had their own Snopes in order to validate the evaluations they receive.