I have a friend who’s looking for a job. For real, a friend. Not a “friend.” While I’m also currently searching for new work, this isn’t an after-school special in which we all know the real identity of the “friend.” But like the moral tales you sometimes watched when you got home from class, this story also offers a valuable lesson.
What I’m about to describe is every candidate’s worst nightmare. It’s something that lots of people wonder: Does this actually happen? It happens. Sometimes like this:
My friend Steve* (of course there’s an asterisk) was recently offered a job at America’s Most Disorganized Employer* (there it is again!). He was eager to accept it, except the offer letter lacked enough details. Beyond salary, it mentioned little else. Clearly, a red flag demonstrating a sloppy hiring process or total ignorance about what candidates value, or both.
So Steve did what every candidate should in such situations. He contacted the hiring manager for more information. That’s when he learned that America’s Most Disorganized Employer allows only 10 days for PTO, including sick days. But who cares. Is there free soda? A ping-pong table?
Nothing like companies offering stupid, meaningless perks to try to hide an unwillingness to recognize that people have lives outside the workplace, right? The best talent such firms can hope to lure are job-seekers desperate for work.
Steve was one of those people. He was planning to ultimately accept any offer, but again, he did what every candidate should. He negotiated for more money and more time off, to which the hiring manager replied, “There’s wiggle room.”
No there wasn’t.
The following day, Steve received an email from the hiring manager. After further reviewing Steve’s background, the hiring manager explained that “you sit at an experience level higher than what this role requires. For that reason, we’re going to retract our offer and feel your expertise will be better utilized in a higher role elsewhere.”
“Sorry” and “apologize” never appeared in the message—which should’ve been conveyed in a phone call, anyway. The lack of contrition and empathy—nevermind the illogic behind the rejection—are appalling, rude, and unprofessional. Hence the company’s abysmal Glassdoor reviews (which—surprise!—cite high turnover).
The “overqualified” excuse is disingenuous at this point. America’s Most Disorganized Employer knew all along the details of Steve’s background. To suddenly pull a job offer by stating that a role is too junior for a candidate shows that the organization lacks much organization. It sends a signal that it doesn’t know what it’s doing.
Thankfully, this type of incident is rare. When it does happen, it’s sometimes because a company decides not to fill the position at all or because the nature of the role has changed. Unpleasant as that may also be, it is far worse to insist that someone that you just asked to start working for you next week is now too senior for the job.
It’s also a blessing for the candidate.
Steve dodged a bullet. You know that a business that botches recruitment this badly is probably screwing up in countless other ways. My friend will ultimately find another job, and I’m pleased to report that the experience has not discouraged him from negotiating his worth in the future.
The moral of the story: When you screw candidates this badly, you screw your employer brand. Empathy, respect and kindness are not just hallmarks of a great candidate experience. They are baseline characteristics of what it means to be a good human being. Cue the rainbow.
Many years ago, I got a call from A&E’s Biography magazine. I’d applied for an entry-level editorial job, so upon answering the phone, I was excited. “Yes, this is Vadim!”
“OK, I just wanted to check. Thank you,” said the caller.
“Oh, OK,” I replied.
She continued: “I was curious if you were a real person. Your resume was”—after a contrived pause—“interesting.”
“Interesting good or interesting bad?” I asked.
“Umm”—more silence to stir drama—”interesting bad.”
The conversation ended and I thought two things: (1) That call didn’t go as planned. (2) That worked out as planned.
A New Serif in Town
Let me explain: I’m thinking of this story because I’m once again looking for work. The other night, I spent hours researching fonts to use on my résumé. I discovered that Times New Roman is the sweatpants of fonts and conveys laziness (that’s me!), so I should instead choose a sans-serif typeface like Helvetica because it will show that I’m forward-thinking (hey, that’s me, too!). Except, I do love a good serif! But would picking one highlight my stupidity? Don’t I know that all those little hooks appended to letters can cause electronic scanners to misread a résumé? Maybe I should listen to my friend who suggests Futura because it’s gorgeous (totally me!). But crap, Microsoft Word doesn’t include that font, but there’s another one I like, but it’s too big, while another is too small, and yet another is—
Who am I? Goldilocks? And is it really 3:30 am? What the hell am I doing?
I knew exactly what I was doing. I was experiencing what every job-seeker feels at some point—insecurity. What if my résumé (which you may view here) turns off a lot of employers? It’s already a bit quirky, at least by HR standards. What if no one will hire the weirdo who also decided to dress his résumé in sweatpants? Continue reading
I’m currently unemployed, so like most people without a job, I wake up each morning, grab my laptop, plop down on the toilet, and trawl through bookmarked job sites. Sometimes I’ll remember to pee.
Either way, my day begins with a lot of shit. The job postings, I mean.
There is so much that is so wrong with how most companies throw together employment ads. You can imagine some HR woman—of course it’s a woman!—writing an ad, struggling to find the right words for the 14th bullet point. After staring at her screen for an hour, it finally hits her! Her normally abnormally pursed lips broaden into a wide smile; her eyes dance in delight. “You go, girl!” she whispers to herself, flinging back her hair as if in a Pantene commercial, and feverishly taps those keys:
- Must be proficient in Microsoft Word
I feel bad for her, and her employer, but mainly, I feel bad for myself. No one should have to start a day this way.
I recently stumbled upon this bullet-less Craigslist ad, which began:
Are you a writer with intermediate to advanced writing skills?
You know it! I have a blog!
Can you convey your thoughts about the positive aspects of a consumer product?
I’m a miserable person who feigns happiness daily. Sure!
If you answered yes, you are a perfect candidate for a task that can be repeated unlimited times as opportunities surface. Our marketing agency handles online reputation for many large brands offering consumer goods. If you feel comfortable writing about products on consumer shopping portals, please contact us for more information. Most work takes less than 15 minutes to complete and pay is up to $30. Must have a Paypal account to accept payment.
I already had my suspicions, but I figured, what the hell? I fired off an enthusiastic email highlighting my commitment to
potentially earning $120/hour creating great copy.
Here was the reply: Continue reading