… the HR Minion. Because even minions have opinions. And giggles.

11 Reasons Candidates Don’t Want to Work for You

This past month a great Slideshare was being passed around online, “Congratulations Graduate! Eleven Reasons Why I will Never Hire You” by Mark O’Toole. As an HR pro who’s done her fair share of hiring, I loved it. Sure, none of the information is anything you haven’t heard before but it did a great job of putting it in an interesting, straight forward manner that hopefully will resonate with the intended audience.

But as much as those of us recruiting like to swap war stories about the craziness that we see from candidates, I think we often forget one simple truth: Recruitment is a two way street. Candidates are evaluating you too and trust me when I say you are being judged by your recruitment process.

Sadly, most of the time companies don’t even know how badly they come across to job candidates. And so they wonder why it takes them 6 months to fill a job, or why they can’t seem to attract top tier graduates, or why their turnover for new hires is at 50%.

So in the same vein but much less cooler format than the Slideshare, here are 11 reasons candidates don’t want to work for you:

1. Your job descriptions have minimal information, are riddled with errors, and/or are so generic and boring that they generate no interest at all.
2. Your application process takes over an hour, requires a reference from their 5th grade math teacher, and the blood of a unicorn harvested on a Tuesday during a leap year. (That was a slight exaggeration but you get my point)
3. You have a terrible Website/Facebook page/LinkedIn page/Twitter Page/Blog with minimal or outdated information and no engagement. Or worse, you have no online presence at all.
4. Online reviews of the company are damning in their consistent message of “Don’t ever work here” and worse, the only engagements with criticism are childish flame wars between the company and the reviewers.
5. In a more analog version of the above, your reputation amongst those in the industry is so tarnished that common knowledge and gossip is “Don’t ever work there” and unlike online, you don’t even have a chance to respond to these rumors.
6. You never keep your promises to follow-up, whether it is to schedule interviews, provide more information, or even to let the candidate know if they have been rejected.
7. The Job Description/Title/Pay/Location/Hours have changed more than once throughout the recruitment process and the candidate no longer knows what they are interviewing for.
8. You demonstrate a lack of respect for the candidate by being unapologetic about being late for the interview or being a no show, by not being prepared, or by being rude/inappropriate during the interview. It happens more than you would think.
9. You lack confidence in yourself, the position, or the company, and it comes through in everything you say and do.
10. Your overall compensation and benefit package is not competitive, the work is not interesting/unique/meaningful, and the advancement opportunities are minimal and move as fast as an iceberg.
11. Your company culture sucks and candidates know it. It is very clique-y and inclusive. It lacks diversity of opinions, thoughts, and creativity. It is inflexible and demanding to an unnatural degree. Management is harsh, green, and petty. You have an office supply Nazi who won’t let you order post it notes. And so on.

Oh, and one more important note for all the Recruiters, Managers, Executives, and HR Pros out there: Candidates are also Customers. All these bad impressions will stick with them long after they’ve started working somewhere else. Give them a bad enough experience and you will find yourself losing potential customers and their revenue now and in the future. It’s just something to keep in mind when you go to re-evaluate your recruitment process.

Leaving a Bad Job Before it Starts

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We’ve all had bad jobs before. If we’re lucky, that just meant bad hours or bad pay. The unlucky ones got bad co-workers, hazardous conditions, unethical or harassing environments, or bad managers. Not all bad job situations are the same, but they all negatively impact your life and your health. Sometimes we can’t understand how much until we finally free ourselves of the situation. You can’t tell something is going to be a bad situation before you get into it, right? Or can you?

Personally, I think there are signs that everybody needs to be looking for. A bad situation will often throw up red flags and you’ll see them if you pay attention, ask the right questions, or know where to look.

1. During the interview you get a bad vibe from the interviewer. I’m not one who often goes with “Trust your gut”, but your brain tends to notice a whole lot of things you don’t consciously process. It’s more efficient that way. If our brain stopped our thought process every second to make us acknowledge all the various elements in our environment we would never get anything done. So whenever you get a bad feeling, it’s because your brain picked up on something so fast that it didn’t bother you with processing it. Instead of brushing that off, take the time to explore it and figure out why you are bothered. Maybe they remind you of a teacher who was mean to you or maybe they remind you of that creepy guy who hit on you in the bar. It’s important to know what is setting off your alarms.

2. There are signs of disrespect and passive aggression. Are they bad about getting back to you when they say they will? Did they leave you to wait in the lobby for 30 minutes after your scheduled interview time? Do the interviewers act like they would rather be anywhere else but in the same room together? Do they start dishing dirt on the company during your interview? Do they make backhand comments about your experience/education/etc? All are signs that this is a dysfunctional workplace that you don’t want to be a part of.

3. After researching the company online you find more alarming reviews about their business practices or how they treat their employees than positives. Now, when reading reviews online you have to take them with a grain of salt, both bad and good. However, how the company responds to the reviews is important. If they are respectfully responding to those negative reviews, trying to engage or make things right, that is a huge plus! But if they lash out and make things worse, or don’t even seem aware of the reviews at all, that is a bad sign. And if all you are finding are negatives with few positives to counteract them; that is a bad sign. I hope I don’t even have to mention that a history of lawsuits/harassment claims isn’t good either.

4. They give you misleading information. You apply for an Office Manager job that is advertised as paying $18/hr. You get called in for an interview and suddenly it’s an Administrative Assistant position that pays $12. Or the job description online says no travel and then they say you’ll be on the road 50% of the time. Sure things can change quickly as business needs change and sometimes mistakes happen. But this is where I’d point you back to #1. Are you getting a shifty vibe from them? Or #3, Do they have negative reviews about their business practices? What claims might turn out to be different later as well?

Sometimes you can end up in a bad situation even if none of these red flags came up. You can even be working for a great company but get stuck with a new manager that doesn’t know what they are doing or placed on the team with that one bad employee. Or the job can start out great and then something happens, a restructure or a transfer, and suddenly you are in a bad situation. Finding a job is as much a crap shoot for a candidate as it is for an employer.

But you owe it to yourself to put in the time to feel out a situation before accepting a new job. Don’t make a decision as big as a new job out of desperation or willful ignorance. The impact it may have on you mentally, financially, and physically down the line will be hard to recover from. No one deserves to be in a bad job situation and it’s much easier to avoid it than it is to get out of it.

6 years

On March 20, 2008 I started my HR Minion Blog. I didn’t know if anyone would ever read or care about what I wrote. I didn’t know how long it would last. But I felt I had something to say about HR and I also wanted to find a way to feel more connected to that great big HR community out there.

Looking back over the years, I can only say how grateful I am for all the wonderful things simply sitting down and put fingers to keys has brought into my life. The friends, the experiences, the love. You never know how pivotal one decision, one action, can be in your life, but truly, blogging has been a major one for me.

Blogging isn’t always easy. Sometimes it gets ignored when life gets in the way, sometimes it’s hard to find things to write about, and a lot of the time I still wonder if anyone at all cares. But in the end I still have something to say about HR. I still feel compelled to write. I still want to participate in the HR community in a meaningful and creative way. And that is why I still blog.

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6 years. It’s both such a long and short time for so much to have occurred. But I wouldn’t trade in one minute of it and I don’t regret anything that has come of it. Please know that you my dear first time, one time, or long time readers alike have my deepest appreciation. So for however long this wonderful shared social experiment we call blogging continues, I hope you will continue sharing it with me here on the HR Minion blog. Cheers!

Thomas the Tank Engine & Your Job Search

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Job searching sucks. Trying to find opportunities sucks, the application process sucks, networking can suck, interviewing sucks, and rejection sucks. It all can be an emotionally draining and dehumanizing experience.

I’m just full of sunshine and bunnies today, aren’t I?

When I was young and the job markets were nicer (gotta get some “The Economy happened” blame in here too you see) I actually liked job hunting. Probably because I almost always got an offer for any job I applied for. I was confident and felt valuable to others. But as I got older and more experienced, it took more time and effort to land a job. Which in all honesty, it should. I wasn’t going for entry level retail/office jobs anymore after all. But it also made the process less fun, less ego stroking, because I started getting more rejections than offers.

Then I went through a long period of nothing after being laid off. Sure, I managed to get some temp jobs, but I still look at that year and a half before getting a “regular” job as a stressful black hole that sucked a lot of self-confidence out of me. Weeks of nothing followed by interviews that went nowhere. Rinse and repeat. For months. It sucked.

If you find yourself relating to the post so far then you are like a lot of people over the last few years. I would like to say that the process gets easier, but I won’t lie to you. Even as the economy recovers, and it will even if slowly, job hunting will probably still suck. Blame the companies, blame the government, blame the educational system, blame yourself; but it doesn’t matter who is at fault in the end. And sitting around blaming yourself or others won’t get you a job either.

So really, then, what is the point? The point is this: You have to believe that someone, somewhere, at some point, will hire you to do something… As long as you don’t give up. That’s it. No matter how much job hunting sucks, you can’t stop. That is not an option. Just like The Little Engine that could, you don’t give up. “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…”. Keep applying, keep networking, keep learning, keep growing, keep searching, keep volunteering, keep stretching yourself, keep going.

To quote Winston Churchill, who is almost as cool as Thomas the Tank Engine, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

It will happen. I can’t promise you how long it will take or what you will be doing, but the only thing I can promise you is that giving up won’t make it better. So have faith in yourself and keep going.

How would you answer these questions?

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About a month ago now, Glassdoor released their Top 25 Oddball Interview Questions. They are fun for a giggle and as an HR geek I am often intrigued by the motivation behind asking such questions. Surely someone had to get permission to ask them and presumably there is a good reason. Wouldn’t you want to be a fly on the wall of that meeting? “Well you see, I want to ask them about what type of cereal they think they would be and why…”

Now, like most interview questions, no matter how oddball it may happen to be, as a candidate you are expected to answer it seriously and with careful thought. But my husband Jesse, being an IT geek who enjoys going out of his way to make me giggle, he went in a different direction with his answers and with his permission I thought I might share some of my favorites with you:

“If you could throw a parade of any caliber through the Zappos office, what type of parade would it be?” –The Zappos Family, Customer Loyalty Team Member interview.

Clothing Optional.

“How lucky are you and why?” –Airbnb, Content Manager interview.

Are you looking to get lucky….cause if I get this job we can make that happen.

“If you were a pizza delivery man, how would you benefit from scissors?” –Apple, Specialist interview.

To smite mine enemies and those that do not tip…and it’s not a pair of scissors, it is the weapon of my birth right Scsscssrrrr the Paper Cutter.

“Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?” –Dell, Account Manager interview.

I am a huntherer….I look for things other people have already hunted and gather them for myself.

“If you were on an island and could only bring three things, what would you bring?” –Yahoo, Search Quality Analyst interview.

Three shipping containers; one full of shelf stable food, one full of Ikea furniture, and the final one would be empty…so I could move into it right away.

“Do you believe in Bigfoot?” –Norwegian Cruise Line, Casino Marketing Coordinator interview.

Yes, and he prefers to be called Carl.

“Why is a tennis ball fuzzy?” –Xerox, Client Manager interview.

It missed it’s last waxing appointment.

“What is your least favorite thing about humanity?” –ZocDoc, Operations Associate interview.

We don’t have time for me to answer this one, I’ll just show myself to the door.

“How honest are you?” –-Allied Telesis, Executive Assistant interview.

Mostly.

“If you were 80 years old, what would you tell your children?” –McKinsey & Company, Associate interview.

How I met their Mother…it would take years.

“How does the Internet work?” –Akamai, Director interview.

It’s a series of tubes that lead to Hogwarts…that’s where the magic happens.

“What’s the color of money?” –American Heart Association, Project Manager interview.

Fast Eddie Felson teaches a cocky but immensely talented protégé the ropes of pool hustling, which in turn inspires him to make an unlikely comeback….yes I have IMDB memorized.

“It’s Thursday; we’re staffing you on a telecommunications project in Calgary, Canada on Monday. Your flight and hotel are booked; your visa is ready. What are the top five things you do before you leave?” –ThoughtWorks, Junior Consultant interview.

Quit….nobody wants to go to Canada.

“Have you ever been on a boat?” –Applied Systems, Graphic Designer interview.

Only that one time with T-Pain, it’s like being on a big blue watery road.

Now that you’ve had a giggle, how would you answer those questions?