By now, hopefully you agree that, “Yes, the candidate experience sucks.” And, as you can very clearly see, “No, I will not shut up about it.” If you made it through Parts 1–5, bravo! (and thank you). But I didn’t write all this just to word-vomit all over Medium. I wrote it because we need change, and we’re not going to get it by sitting around reading essays like this one. Here’s what we should do:
Someone needs to “own” the candidate experience
Just as there is a person at many tech companies who cares a lot about “user” experience, there should be someone who cares about candidate experience. Right now, there isn’t such a person, but if we’re serious about creating a better hiring process, there needs to be.
Job descriptions should actually describe the job
Job descriptions should be written with more detail about exactly what a person might be doing if they are hired, and what’s in it for them. And everyone would really benefit from omitting terms like “dynamic” and “multi-tasking” and similar jargon-riddled BS. Just explain the job as you would to a person if you were speaking directly to them. Really, it’s as simple as that.
One item that’s often left out is how much the company is willing to pay in salary and other benefits. Does anyone really believe that the company hasn’t approved a budget for making this hire in advance of posting the job? Of course they have. A person accepting a job at your company is trading their time/effort/ability/etc for the compensation you give them. But it’s pretty hard to judge the attractiveness of your job without knowing important details like how much you might get paid to do it.
Ditch the requirements
The requirements for the job should be obvious: that you can do the job! So rather than spending a bunch of time on “must have 5 years of experience in X and a degree in Y”, just tell someone what the job entails and give them a way to show you if they can do it or not. If they can prove to you that they can do the job, but they don’t meet the requirements you came up with, maybe that’s a good indicator to YOU that your so-called “requirements” weren’t nearly as essential as you thought they were.
Give candidates an assignment to demonstrate their talents as the first step in the hiring process… and make it anonymous
As I just mentioned, it’s important to give candidates a way to show you if they can do the job or not. And not just some candidates. It’s important to give all candidates an equal opportunity to demonstrate their skills.
Don’t screen people out. Let them screen themselves out by whether or not they do the assignment for the job. This concept is utterly simple, yet amazingly profound. Right now, most employers seem to believe that they can accurately judge a candidate by spending 6 seconds reviewing a resume or LinkedIn profile. Therein lies the problem: As employers, we’re casting judgement and making assumptions about what someone can do, instead of letting that person show us what they can do.
If you’ve read all this, I hope I’ve impressed upon you why the candidate experience sucks, and why the fact that is sucks matters so much. If you found yourself scoffing at times or wondering why I’m making such a fuss, consider this: besides the person(s) we choose to spend our life with, the work we choose to spend our life on is one of the most important decisions a human being makes.
Besides the person(s) we choose to spend our life with, the work we choose to spend our life on is one of the most important decisions a human being makes.
For better or worse, what we do defines who we are. The tragedy playing out every day across America (and across the world really) is that what we’d like to do is being partially dictated to us by what other people deem us capable of doing. They get to screen us in or out. They get to tell us we don’t have enough experience and reject us for it. They get to decide our fate without so much as giving us a chance to prove them wrong.
And I for one have had enough of it!
Ladies and gentlemen, we’re at an inflection point. We can either rise to the occasion and fix this problem, or shrink from the challenge and fail to. I get it, change is hard. Doing something new implies risk and risk invites failure. It’s much safer to default to what we’ve always done.
But if we just have the courage to try we really can make this a lot better. We just need to start.
This article (and my efforts to build Varsidee) is my way of starting. I really believe in this, but I wrote this article not as a call to attention but as a call to action.
No amount of writing will solve this problem. Change comes from doing. It comes from adding up 1,000’s of tiny efforts. The first of those tiny efforts you can make right now is to share this article. The second one you can make is to commit to making your company’s hiring process better for candidates along the lines I’ve outlined above.