I recently finished reading the book The Power of Nice. I especially liked this book, because not only was it written by two very successful women, it was written by people who work in the advertising industry. I work in the advertising industry, specifically in the niche area of human resource communications.
As I was reading this book, I felt reassured in knowing there are people who do believe that doing right by people and treating them with respect should be a given, and not an exception to the rule. What the two authors, Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval, espouse in their book is similar to something that I read in the book How to Become a Rainmaker. Both books talk about how the importance of being nice is a good thing to do as a respectful human being and how this action can carry over into building and elevating your business relationships. What helped me to truly appreciate The Power of Nice was thinking about the people I have met during my career and the impressions they made on me, some of those impressions were good and some rather bad.
In this same vein is the multitude of comments, articles, and blogs I have read recently describing the way people are treated during the application and interview process.
Personally, I’ve not had the need to hire anyone over the past 18 months, but I do remember a time when I was actively interviewing. My needs were always for the same type of position: account manager. The title “account manager” is one of those universal job titles that transcends across many industries and can mean a multitude of different duties depending on the company and industry. I can remember receiving more than 100 resumes each time the position was advertised. In all honesty, 50-60% percent of the resumes were from people who were either overqualified, underqualified, lacking any relevant experience for the position, or seeking a salary much higher than what was clearly stated in the ad. As the hiring manager, I always felt very discouraged by this, but through this disheartened feeling I always thought about how these job applicants must be feeling. I remember being out of work early in my professional career and how deflating that feeling was. I don’t envy the unemployed.
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For the obvious reasons, I wouldn’t hire someone who was not appropriate for the position, but there was something I could do and I made a point of it. That point was to contact each and every person who sent in a resume, whether they were a qualified candidate or not. Not that I relish giving people bad news, because I don’t. Now, I should also point out that my company uses an ATS that has an automated function which e-mails job applicants on their status, including the proverbial “no thank you message,” but having past experience with being on the receiving end of never hearing from a person at the company where I had applied, I made the conscience decision that I would pay these people the professional courtesy of communicating with them. So in between my daily tasks, I would contact the job applicants and hopefully speak to them live. In some instances I did leave a voicemail message, but always left my name and number and a best time to reach me so if that person chose to, he/she could call me back for a more in-depth conversation. Many of the people I spoke with, even when told they were not going to be invited to interview, actually sounded grateful that I called. One person said it was “refreshing to know there are companies out there who care.” Even in the face of rejection, I found that job applicants would rather know and have closure than not know the status of their application.
With all this said, I know that in today’s wacky economy, the number of resumes that are being sent way outnumber the amount I received 18 months ago, so I’m not implying that the HR department is being negligent. This department is doing more with less like any other department. What I am asking is this — HR, could you please take a moment to add a personal touch to your recruiting communications? It would mean so much to the job applicant and enrich the value of your worth to them. It also shows genuineness in that you care about the people who touch your organization, and in return your show of goodwill will reinforce your company’s employment value proposition and strengthen the brand image.