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Businesses Behaving Badly: No Class = No Talent

A friend of mine has been job hunting for the past six months. When we spoke on the phone recently she lamented about the horrible treatment employers have been doling out–from outright ignoring her to rescinding offers to sending her an email simply stating she didn’t get the job after she went through several rounds of interviews and was told at one of the interviews she would get the job.

A friend of mine has been job hunting for the past six months. When we spoke on the phone recently she lamented about the horrible treatment employers have been doling out–from outright ignoring her to rescinding offers to sending her an email simply stating she didn’t get the job after she went through several rounds of interviews and was told at one of the interviews she would get the job.

Really, people –could your behavior be any worse? Aren’t you supposed to be professionals concerned about such monumental, irreplaceable things like employer branding and customer service and ethics?

It reminds me of that song in the musical Chicago that queries Whatever Happened to Class?.

When did good manners and ethics take a leave of absence from the workforce? The companies that treat their prospects like dirt are either being really short-sighted or really aren’t companies you want to work for in the first place.

By 2015, Baby Boomers will cede the majority of the workforce to Generation Y. It will be the largest shift in human capital in history. While the unemployment rate has been soaring lately, that number is about to come crashing down amidst retirement waves and post-recession talent turnover.

In other words, companies will soon find themselves in a talent shortage and the roles will be reversed. Every company out there will be vying for talent, and the way a company treats its prospective talent now will determine its fate when the shortage finally hits.

But even without taking all that into consideration, what right-thinking company would drive talent away? It sounds unbelievable, yet we see it happening every day.

Here are just a few of the many ways businesses are behaving badly:

  • Their auto-responder message is unfriendly.It’s bad enough that job-seekers have to submit their applications to a virtual person sitting God-knows-where and doing who-knows-what with all those resumes. To top it off, most auto-responder messages from employer career sites are downright ominous stating, “You will be contacted if we wish to interview you.” It’s the equivalent of someone sneering at you. There isn’t so much as a personable greeting, kind-hearted thank-you, or respectable speck of decency in the entire bunch.
  • First impressions are everything. Even an auto-responder message has the power to boost an employer’s brand. It should say something more like this:
  • “Thanks for sending us your resume! You will be hearing back from someone within the next 24-36 hours. In the meantime, have you seen our job seekers’ newsletter? Take a look! (link here) We take great pride in being an employer of choice and treat our talent exceptionally well. We appreciate your interest and will be in touch soon.”
  • They ignore you.First you have to submit your resume on-line and then you never, ever hear back from anyone. You end up sitting and pondering whether the employer received your application and why they didn’t even bother to extend you a ‘thanks but no thanks’ note. There’s really nothing worse than being ignored.
  • They keep you waiting.Some employers make their prospects sit in the lobby for 30 minutes before they call them in for the interview. Others make prospects wait for weeks before letting them know whether they did or didn’t make the cut. Still others will put a job opening out there, then decide later to postpone the hiring process or just promote someone from within. All these antics are the equivalent of screaming: “You are nothing to us! We don’t care about you or any other peon out there hunting for a job!”
  • Here again I have to wonder: if the job applicants are treated badly, imagine how the employees are treated. Why work anyone want to work for a company like this?

Alas, what goes around comes around.

It isn’t a new story that hiring managers sometimes treat job candidates badly, but now job candidates are getting a bit of revenge when they broadcast their poor treatment to millions of others via social media.

The result is that companies are seeing their carefully crafted public image come unhinged as insulted interviewees recount everything from unprofessionalism to discrimination – and the news is spreading far and wide to other job seekers and even company customers.

A damaged public image can impact everything from being able to recruit top talent to attracting customers, especially since job candidates also may be customers.

Steer clear of employers who beat away talent with a stick, and if your firm is one of those places, sound the alarm. There’s no time to waste. Talent-unfriendly employers aren’t the ones most likely to thrive in the global marketplace.

Sarah Sladek

Concerned about declining engagement in our nation’s membership associations, non-profits, and workplaces, Sarah Sladek founded XYZ University, the nation’s first and only generations-focused training and engagement strategy company, in 2002.

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