It's time we turned the mirror around

There is no shortage of online ink being spilled telling candidates how to behave and how not to behave. This week, I read a piece telling people not to ask about salary and benefits in the interview. And this isn’t an isolated piece. Don’t have a gap in your resume! Don’t job hop! Don’t apply to too many roles at our company! It doesn’t seem to end. It’s like jobsplaining. These are adult people. They are adult people who we spend a lot of calories complaining about them NOT applying to our jobs. Frankly, they’re beaten down.

We created the phrase “the war for talent”, which nobody won, by the way. We are creating all of these advice pieces, and it is getting us nowhere. I am starting to believe that people are giving up on us. You know the drill: record low unemployment, labor shortages, skill shortages, blahblahblah. It is entirely possible that the reason we can’t find the right people is that we are spending all of effort telling them how to behave when we are not taking a single second to self-reflect. We are no longer in a power position here. There are restaurants that cannot open because there are not enough people to work in them. There are product launches that are delayed because they lack the people to build them. And yet, we are spending our effort telling them what not to do with little self-awareness of our role in this mess.

So, here’s my noble idea: this is NOT us vs. them.

The truth is, hiring today is adversarial. We treat it that way every day. You see it in the words we use. You see it in the messages we create. You see it in our processes. But, what we are not seeing is that we ACTUALLY NEED each other. We need their skills to open stores, build buildings, market products, sell our wares. Without them, we get less. We get fewer store openings, fewer products shipping, fewer customers, fewer. We need them. And they need us. Yes, they need our money. But for many people work gives people purpose. They need us not only to provide for their families, but to build a life and create career achievements. People look for new work to be inspired and to be optimistic about their future. People do not generally go through a 45-minute application to jerk us around. We must stop treating candidates and our current employees like inconveniences.

As we go forward, let’s stop telling people what they can and can’t do in this process, let’s instead starting thinking about what WE should and shouldn’t do in this process. Should we be transparent about pay and vacation up front? Yes, we should. It saves time. Should we spend time building programs that invest in people? Yes, we should. Should we stop being angry about people who apply to a lot of our jobs? Yes, we should because honestly, what we are turning away is a HUGE brand advocate. I will say it again, candidates are not annoyances. Let’s start acknowledging how we are making these things much more difficult for talent and that we can actually change this. So, when candidates are annoying, let’s look at what we can do to mitigate these annoyances from our lives.

Think about what could be if we figured out how to scale interacting with all of the candidates. Think about what time we could save if we told people what it was really REALLY like to work at our companies. What time could we save if we started on the same page with talent when we talk about salary and benefits sooner, rather than later. What if we told people how long things were going to take instead of letting them guess what was going on and assuming they were not chosen. What greatness could we create if we allowed our current employees the ability to raise their hands for new challenges and growth. Wouldn’t it be amazing to tell people what being an Employer of Choice actually means.

We have a future ahead where if we take a second to think about our processes and experiences what magic could we create for our talent, and what return on investment would we create when we did so.