What is the Real Reason Employers Treat Job Seekers Like Dirt?

Nancy Anderson
Posted by in Career Advice

Employers have a bad habit of stacking obstacles in front of job seekers while blaming their struggles on talent shortages. The hiring process should be a people-focused activity, but most methods create distance between everyone involved. Many employers forget hiring isn't a one-way street, and they repel qualified job seekers by trying to maintain the upper hand. Here are common reasons employers fail at recruitment, wiping out their own talent pool.

They Want Unicorns, Not People

Hiring managers and HR teams write job postings like a wish list, packing in enough requirements for two or three jobs. They drive away job seekers with cold language, describing a mythical candidate who probably doesn't exist at the target salary range. Many HR teams create these qualifications without a clear understanding of the job or base them on past employees in the role. However, those people gained on-the-job skills shaped by their specific employer — they didn't start out doing everything right.

Employers only think about what they need and forget they're trying to attract top talent. They fail to prioritize skills and stress the value of growth potential. As a result, job seekers get the message that only perfect, all-knowing candidates should apply.

They Aren't Trained to Sell

Employers need to make good hires. They lose money from high turnover and unfilled jobs. Yet, they approach hiring as though they're doing job seekers a favor. They burden candidates with personality testing, long applications and multiple rounds of interviews. They guard salary information while demanding it from applicants. They keep delaying making a hiring decision without offering any explanation for the lack of follow-up.

Most HR teams aren't trained to think like salespeople. They believe the employer has all the power and job seekers have to prove themselves worthy of an offer. In reality, recruiters who want top talent have to promote the benefits of a great employer and culture. Talented employees make money for companies, and they have no incentive to put up with poor treatment.

They Don't Experiment and Improve

Data and technology are transforming most industries, but recruitment continues to lag behind. Companies rely on applicant-tracking systems, despite a long history of poor results. They want personalized resumes and cover letters with strong storytelling, but job seekers have to be SEO experts to get their applications in front of a human reader. While some forward-looking companies are already using social media, blogs and other online tools to connect one-on-one with potential candidates, the majority haven't changed their methods in years.

Similar to digital marketers, hiring managers should look for talent in places they already frequent. For example, companies can treat their career pages as a sales funnel and aim to get contact information from or start a live chat session with people who view job openings. However, frequent testing and learning require risk. Change is hard, so many employers prefer a broken, albeit familiar, system over something completely new.

Buyer's remorse is a recruiter's greatest fear, and job seekers pay the price. Employers are always worried they aren't getting the best candidate, and they end up shrinking their talent pool by dragging out the hiring process. Fortunately, modern job seekers can network online and offline to bypass an unpleasant recruiting model and find employers willing to invest in their talents.

Photo courtesy of holohololand at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Carl C. thanks for your comment. It is true. It's tough to prepare for a personality test! Just be who you are. That's all you can do and all they can expect. I think that's what they are looking for anyhow - the true you. Once hired, then you can adapt to your environment!

  • Carl C.
    Carl C.

    This article perfectly describes my current plight. Especially with the personality testing, I do not believe any test will reveal who I am or what I could or will do to add to the organizations success. I adapt to my environment and I set personal an professional goals based the company culture,, how can you test for that?

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