I’m Just Going to Say It: Bad HR Practices Make Everyone’s Life Difficult

2 Aug

So…what are your thoughts on the idea around telling a potential employer that you’ll “work for free”, as part of an effort to potentially get yourself in the door at a company?  If you’re an intern, sounds like a great idea.  Even for you entry-level folks who could eventually monetize that extra experience.  But outside of that, I question such desperate tactics and the message a candidate would be sending about the value of their talent.  Punk Rock HR wrote a good article last week about why candidates ought NOT to work for free, which sounds pretty common sense in normal circumstances… but given the state of the job market, maybe not so outlandish an idea for some people.

And I agree with PRHR.  That idea sucks.

Because now more than ever are people struggling to make ends meet and pay the bills.  If you’re a resident of NYC or Boston in particular (and probably any other equally-indebted metropolitan area), transit fares are on the rise, while service quality is on the decline.  Congress is “talking” potential tax breaks, while adding in other places.  And sales tax in some states has risen exponentially in the last 18 months alone.

The lengths that job seekers will go to these days in attempts to impress, or even satiate, HR alludes me sometimes.  Granted, there’s a certain air of desperation floating around the professional atmosphere, but to what degree should job seekers be reduced to begging at the feet of some recruiter or hiring manager, to get a couple of scraps of employment?  Aren’t we all better and more highly skilled than that?  Of course we are.  Unfortunately, economic circumstances remain as they are.  So with that in mind, what are we, as HR professionals and business owners, doing to shift that perspective and better the situation where we can?

I have hired, fired, fought and questioned the legality and ethics of numerous employment situations in my tenure as a recruiter and career adviser. And on the other end, I have been the intern, the job seeker, the hiring manager, the newbie, the senior associate, the boss and the owner of various companies, and I’ve found one thing to be fairly consistent – my disdain for the American HR system.  Now do NOT confuse that with a lack of respect for HR professionals, because at the end of the day, we are all just doing our jobs, and many of us simply regurgitating orders from a higher power that we may, or may not, agree with. Now it’s a known case that third-party recruiters and internal HR folks aren’t always on the same page when it comes to recruiting processes and details.  It helps if you are, as it’s a partnership.

And despite classifying myself as a former HR professional, I was very often miffed by the manner in which my candidates were treated by either internal recruiters, hiring managers or department heads with whom they were interviewing.  While I worked with literally hundreds of fantastic companies whom I absolutely loved partnering with, others I found to be misleading about either the terms with which they were talking to my candidates, or establishing a so-called business partnership with my recruiting agency.  In fact, I’m happy to share my top ten complaints around bad human resources practices, as they best relate to you (and once upon a time, me) as the job seeker:

10. HR filling their pipeline with resumes, “just in case” they decide to pull the trigger on hiring for a particular position.  Why?  Because unemployed people don’t like to sit around hoping and praying any more than they already have to.

9. Overlooking very relevant skills for the exact wording of a job title.  Marketing Associate and Communications Coordinator… same thing.

8. Assuming that someone who has worked in all corporate environments cannot physically function or breath, let alone work, in a casual or agency environment.  In some cases, this may be true, but not always.

7. Knowing in advance what a candidate’s salary expectations are, and after three mutually successful interviews… offering them $15K less.

6. The “Hurry Up & Wait” tactic.  Company X needs someone in that chair YESTERDAY, and when the perfect candidate comes strolling in, the hiring manager is out on maternity leave, with no one to replace her.  Call back in three months!

5. HR generalists recruiting for specialized areas, in which they have no knowledge of applicable skill sets.  “This candidate knows ActionScript 3, but I see NO mention of Flash on here… Can you explain that please?”  Of course I’m never allowed to email the resume to  the Creative Director… DIRECTLY!

4. This conversation: “Hi Janet, just following up on my email and my previous voicemail regarding that great candidate I sent you on Friday for the Marketing Manager role.  Please let me know if this is still a priority for you, as he’s considering other options as well.  Thanks.”

3. Rejecting a candidate without any explanation of where they didn’t stack up.  Unfortunately, this one will never change, and likely it’s because they “weren’t a good culture fit”.  Although in HR’s defense, try saying that without royally offending someone, and inspiring a potential legal retaliation.

2. 3 in-person interviews for a contract or freelance position.  Generally, the interview process should span less time than the job itself

1. Hiring a new employee and providing no support or on-boarding process whatsoever to get them acclimated to their new role.  It’s not a matter of hand-holding.  It’s expensive to hire new people… and it’s three times as expensive to hire their replacement when they quit.

And as an amendment, one more that makes the list, and unfortunately, will always remain on it:  Sh*tty recruiters.  They don’t return candidates’ emails, calls or inquiries, they submit their resumes without informing them first, and generally treat them like another paper in the stack.  I was a good recruiter, as were my colleagues and my agency in general.  So I say in all honesty that as a job seeker, perhaps you have to be most cautious about this one, because in some cases working with a recruiter can do more harm than good.  That’s an article for another time, as well as a few good tips on how to circumvent ALL of the situations above…

Stay tuned!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: