Are Your Hiring Practices a Public Relations Disaster?

Anytime you put your name out into the community you are marketing yourself. Most people don’t think of a job announcement or the hiring process as a marketing opportunity, but it absolutely is. The very people that are applying for your open position(s) are most likely customers or could become customers. When you post a job online you are reaching hundreds of people, hundreds of your customers. Your job posting says a lot about your company. If you are not taking the time to put your best foot forward, not only will you fail to attract the right candidates, but you are also losing extremely valuable PR and marketing opportunities.

Many companies are actually losing face over their hiring practices and they may not even know it. Ask yourself: what could be a positive outcome of attracting the attention of hundreds of people and then ignoring them? This is exactly what companies are doing today. They have hundreds of people reaching out to them and, instead of taking advantage of this fact and finding ways to make some sort of a connection, resumes are sent down black holes, never to be seen again. You don’t think applicants are remembering that the next time they need to make a purchase decision? Of course, they are.  More importantly, they are talking about you. Telling their friends and family they applied, and loudly voicing their own frustrations about being ignored by you.

Be proud of the fact that you are hiring and don’t take the future of your company so nonchalantly as to think that posting a lousy job announcement and proceeding to ignore all of your customers who apply is a good business plan. Also, remember that even the application process is a representation of your company and people are taking note. Do you want to be perceived as a cold, heartless, one-size-fits-all organization or do you want to rise above the clamor and show that your organization is built on relationships, sound decisions, and backed by real people ready to help?

This brings me to the biggest blunder that organizations are making today.  My number one biggest pet peeve, avoid at all costs or die rule, is to get rid of the humiliating, impersonal, ineffective, tell-the-whole-world-you-don’t-care, infuriating online application tools. Just so you know, I actually held back a little there on how I really feel. Why do I feel so strongly about this matter? Here is what every job seeker/customer/potential customer has to deal with when using the online automated applications:

You are about to apply for the Position: Executive Direct. To continue, please sign in. If you’re a new user, click here.

Please agree to our 150-page privacy policy before proceeding.

Error: Please check the box stating that you agree to our terms and conditions.

List your job history below and provide a detailed description of each job.

Error: You have exceeded the maximum characters.

Error: Please provide at least 5 years of experience in the fields below.

Error: The dates you selected overlap.

Error: Sorry our system is down. Please contact the system administrator or refresh the page to try again.

Please select your highest level of education.

Select your school from the drop-down menu.

Select your degree from the drop-down menu.

Select your major from the drop-down menu (“What the @&@%$??”).

Error: You must select a major.

Would you like to add additional education?

Select your school from the drop-down menu.

Select your degree from the drop-down menu.

Select your major from the drop-down menu.

Would you like to add additional education (“Crap!”)

…one hour later…

Please upload a copy of your resume and a cover letter.

Thank you for applying. If your qualifications match our guidelines, someone will contact you.

What does a resume provide? It provides work history, education history, skills, and experiences. So why not just ask for the resume?  Call me a traditionalist, but you’re not going to find the perfect candidate through this nightmarish online automated process, especially at the manager and executive levels.  Managers and executives have real experience and their stories cannot effectively be told through the constraints of drop-down menus and 200 character limits. (You really want to find the future of your company this way, with a drop-down menu?) Moreover, from a reputation management standpoint, I have heard over and over again, how demoralizing it is for professionals to go through the process described above. This process does not instill any measure of confidence or loyalty from your applicants/customers. Instead, it leaves them with a message that your company does not care, will not engage, and does not want to be bothered with petty things such as real human connections.

Business is still about making human connections. Dehumanizing your applicants into a system of pointless hoops and data is not going to build the strong connections needed to create long term success. Go on, continue to exasperate your applicants/customers, or step up and take the hiring process as serious as it really is. Get involved, shake some hands, and yes, read some resumes. After all, the future and reputation of your business is at stake.