Five million jobs in the United States are unfilled.
A job vacancy is an imaginary entity. It means the boss sent a requisition to HR. It doesn’t mean she intends to fill it. It doesn’t mean there is anyone out there who can meet the requirements for less than double the intended salary. Nevertheless, some amount of work was required to paste the words “must have excellent written and verbal communications skills” into the requisition.
American companies believe they are in a buyers’ market. Assuming that’s true, it makes all the sense in the world to push as much of the work of job-matching to the applicant. Even if he wrote a resume, make him type it all again into a database. Then the computer can do the work of looking for keywords, “php, HVAC, analyst” or whatever. For the employer, it’s cheaper to use the applicant’s time to retype this stuff than having HR read a resume. It relieves HR from using any imagination to fit a non-standard applicant with a special job.
If the resume is to be a dead paper instrument, simply notes to use when typing into an HR portal, the least employers could do is adopt a standard XML format. Applicants would use whatever font or paper they want, but the same resume would feed every portal they want to use.
Does it make sense, pushing all this work to the applicant? It makes sense for a cell-phone provider to push a customer to navigate seven layers of IVR before talking to a CSR trained for a very specific problem. It substantially decreases the cost of customer service. The more automation you can push into the game, the better. Think of how many times you have heard the recording, “You may solve this problem by going to our website w-w-w-dot.”
On the sales side, companies are much less likely to force a customer into a web-only or IVR-only transaction. Giving a customer the option to talk to an agent or use a computer application pleases different customers in different ways.
We are in a stage right now when job-seekers are treated like complaining customers seeking tech support. You can see the logic. The company has the job. The applicant wants it. Why not push the work onto the applicant?
I offer another view â€“ that job seekers should get the same red-carpet treatment as a customer. I know; the customer has money he wants to spend with the company. The applicant wants money from the company. Maybe the company should spend more energy on applicants. Let’s look at the dollars.
I offer a fictional company, Acme Airlines, for my example. You can do the same analysis on your company. Acme sells $6 billion in tickets each year, from which it makes $700 million in net income. A great customer flies fifty times a year, generating sales of $10,000 and net income of $1,200 per year. An average customer flies, say ten times a year, generating net income of $300, about $60 per reservation.
An employee of Acme, of whom there are 20,000, generates $350,000 in sales and $40,000 in net income. Which is more important, getting one great customer, or one great employee? The numbers speak for themselves.
It’s easy to build a wall around the HR department. An employment portal allows HR staff to drink coffee while applicants and jobs are matched with digital precision. Make sure there are no email addresses posted on the recruiting website, and no “Press six for the HR department” on the phone system. You’ve taken the humanity out of human resources.
There is a good reason headhunters make 35% on a placement. They are on the phone all day long. They help applicants craft better resumes. They help employers verbalize their real needs, instead of unrealistic wish lists. I’m not suggesting that outsourcing recruiting is a universally great idea. I do suggest that the fee is indicative of the true cost of doing a good job matching people and openings.
Truly, it’s false economy to cut costs in your recruiting interface. Over and over you hear companies say, “People are our most valuable asset.” An hour later, they scheme to take another quarter-hour out of the recruiting process. In the meantime, an applicant gets frustrated with a third set of screens asking the same questions for another opening. At the end of the day, the Peter Principle takes over. Only the most desperate candidates complete the process. That’s good for neither employers nor job seekers.
Five million unfilled positions is that much production capacity unused. If they were to be filled promptly, the economy would grow. Reaching applicants should command the same imagination and energy as reaching customers.