Sunday, March 02, 2008

A Modest Proposal for HR

Do Human Resources Departments regard job applicants as customers or nuisances?

Judging by some of the application processes I've seen, I'd say the evidence favors the latter.

Consider how often the electronic application procedures make it harder for the person who is applying but easier for those who are reviewing the applications. In the old days, job seekers could copy their resumes and send them off to a wide range of employers. They can certainly do that more easily via today's job search sites but if they wish to apply to a specific employer, they encounter a far more cumbersome process.

Here's what I've noticed in a review of various sites:

  • Jargon and arcane abbreviations. If they are confusing to someone who works in the field, they will be even more baffling to people entering the workplace.

  • Conflicting instructions. The job doesn't require experience but in order to move beyond an introductory page a level of advanced experience must be checked.

  • Grossly-inflated requirements. This is an old complaint but you can still see employers asking for five years of experience for what is truly an entry-level job.

  • Technical hurdles. Copy and paste a well-formatted resume into the boxes and watch as that impressive resume quickly resembles something created by a chimp. Go through the same process with every job and you'll get nostalgic for the old "mail out your resume" days.
The inflation of job requirements can produce discrimination problems and should be quickly stopped. There's a simple solution for most of the procedural problems. Just as executives are well-advised to use their own products and services to check on quality so too should HR managers periodically "apply" for jobs at their companies.

It may be quite an education.


Anonymous said...

You are so right. HR thinks of applicants as nuissance because they are not the ones applying for a position. They already have a position and care less. HR does need to audit their own department to have some type of a check and balance to make sure the applicants are treated with respect even if that applicant will not obtain a position within the company.


Michael Wade said...


Another common HR mistake is the failure to notify applicants that they were not selected. Convenience trumps courtesy.