Too many working people have the same story to tell; when I meet them in my travels, they say “I like my job, but my company would never have hired me if they knew how I think and what I believe.” These folks have to play a part at work just to fit in with their co-workers.
I used to tell my boss “If you want me to play a character that isn’t really me, I’ll do it — but in that case I need an Actor’s Equity card!” Most of us play various roles at work, depending on the situation. We hope that at the end of a day or week we can look back and feel that our true self came out at least a majority of the time we were working.
A paycheck is not enough to justify hiding who you are.
Sadly, a lot of employers screen out applicants with any hint of creativity, out-of-the-box thinking or a non-standard approach to their careers. Too many employers seek out drones and zombies to fill their open positions. Drones and zombies, of course, are regular people who are beaten down. They don’t trust their instincts anymore.
They been trained to keep their wacky sense of humor, their unique perspective on things and their true personality under wraps. I hope they come back to their human form when they get home from work!
Here are ten ways employers screen out the very candidates who could help them climb out of the 20th-century mindset that doesn’t work anymore.
Ten Ways Employers Screen Out The Best Candidates
1. Employers begin the screening-out process by writing dismally grey and boring job ads that harp about what the Ideal Candidate needs to bring to the relationship — but say nothing at all about why a sharp and talented person might be interested in the job. That is the first way most employers fail in their recruiting efforts!
2. Next, employers screen out talented people by filling their job ads with fourteen to eighteen Essential Requirements — maybe three of which are actually essential to performing the job. The rest is vanity, and it costs employers money and makes their competitors happy.
3. Now, employers do their best to push great people out of the pipeline by making their Applicant Tracking Systems so unfriendly, tedious, and usability-challenged that candidates literally give up in the middle of the job-application process. E-commerce marketers are distressed when buyers abandon their online shopping carts before completing their purchase. Shouldn’t Recruiting VPs and their CEOs be just as distressed when candidates abandon their online job applications? If they were paying attention, they would be!
4. Employers continue weeding out and chasing away excellent candidates by using a keyword-searching algorithm instead of human beings to sort resumes. That’s a travesty! Anybody can type keywords onto a resume. Smart employers would never screen resumes electronically and hope to make good hires that way.
5. Once they’ve identified a set of promising candidates, foolish employers drive them away by requiring the candidates to take a bunch of online tests (including insulting grade-school “honesty tests”) and even submitting their references before they’ve spoken with a company representative. That’s a great way to send talent into your competitors’ arms!
6. Employers drive candidates away by demanding their private salary details — something that will soon be illegal in the state of Massachusetts — without giving any hints as the company’s hiring salary range.
7. Once the interviews begin, employers beat talented candidates away with a stick by assigning junior and clueless interviewers to interview candidates. If a person doesn’t understand the job to be filled, can’t answer a candidate’s most common 15 or 20 questions (including “What is a typical day like?” “Who are the internal and external customers for this position?” “What are the milestones and metrics by which your new hire will be evaluated?” and “How does this position help the company reach its goals?”) they shouldn’t be interviewing anyone.
8. Employers continue pushing talented candidates away by making them wait for weeks between contacts. Would you ever dream of treating a prospective customer so badly? No way!
9. Candidates who are still hanging on in the interview process may finally give up and work for someone else when employers change the job spec, the reporting relationship or the compensation schedule just before they extend a job offer.
10. Finally, out-of-it employers drive great candidates away by making them low-ball job offers that don’t match the requirements of the job.
Smart employers know that talent and the commitment of their team members to one another and to their goals are the only things that fuel an organization’s success. It doesn’t matter how great the products are, or how well-funded an organization is.
If you don’t have sharp, capable people on board who give a dang about the work and one another, nothing good will happen. Smart employers figured that out a long time ago, and their recruiting processes show it. Don’t settle for less on your job search!
Liz Ryan is CEO/founder of Human Workplace and author of Reinvention Roadmap.