Rachelle, our global talent acquisition leader, sat down at the conference table. We were meeting to discuss the drafting of career progressions for two of the functional groups that will experience significant growth over the next five to seven years. We are trying to get ahead of the form that will allow those functions to perform even as we double capacity demands on them.
The topic of recruiting predictably arose, and we discussed Rachelle’s two-year project to create a global candidate interface in the fourteen countries where we employ Tribe members. Rachelle broke into a chuckle as she remembered a recent candidate interaction from the website.
“The candidate sent a cover letter without the required resume!” Rachelle said. “His reason was that the interface allowed him to send only one document!
“Why didn’t he simply copy and paste the cover letter in the same resume document, as the first couple of pages?”
“You clearly learn a great deal about a candidate through the application process, don’t you?” I asked.
“More than candidates realize” she replied. “Candidates don’t know how to differentiate themselves from the large number of applicants.”
“Do you have any suggestions?” I asked.
“How much time have you got?” Rachelle laughed. “Sure. Let me give you some pretty important ones, and you’ll be surprised to hear that at least half of the candidates do not do these things!”
I wouldn’t necessarily be surprised, I thought. Half the population is below the median intelligence and skill level, after all.
Rachelle began her list.
“First, a candidate has to figure out a way to stand out among the many,” Rachelle said. “Anybody can apply online or send an email. That’s not different. That approach has the same dismal percentage return on time investment as direct mail advertising. Less than 2 percent chance of a positive reaction.
“The candidate should do some homework before sending in an application of any sort. They should learn about the company to whom they are applying. What is that organization’s business model or mission? How long have they been in business?
“What is the ownership structure? Are they growing? Why? Why not? In the age of the Internet, there is no reason why a candidate cannot do some pretty extensive research on a company before applying.
“Next, they should approach the company in the way the company wants to be approached, at least initially if not continually. Follow the instructions. Take the steps outlined. Be accurate and complete.
“Then, it’s a true differentiator to send a hand-written note. Even before the telephone interview, sending a note to thank the company for its consideration and to include a work sample that shows the candidate went out of his or her way to invest in the relationship personally is a dramatic way of showing that the candidate is serious and professional.
“You can call too much for follow-up purposes, and you can make the mistake of not calling at all. Always follow up at least once. Sales is about repetition without being obnoxious. Selling yourself as a candidate is no different.
“When the candidate communicates, it’s critical to be genuine, authentic. Recruiters and experienced leaders can smell a snow job a long way off. The use of popular jargon that really has no meaning is a good way to turn decision makers off. If the term is a fad (such as when dot-com era companies replaced the word ‘market’ with the word ‘space’), then someone who speaks fad will be seen as trivial or insubstantial.”
“Wow!” I said. “You have quite a list!”
“And I’m not done yet!” Rachelle said. “But here’s a final recommendation to all your readers out there.
“All three of them?” I asked.
Rachelle smiled, “You have that many?” Then she concluded, “If people want to ensure that they are excluded from consideration almost instantly, they should act as if they are owed.
“The best future employees don’t behave like victims. They don’t blame others. They don’t expect anything but the results they get. They are grateful for opportunities and demonstrate it. We look for accountable people here: people who know there are lots of reasons and no excuses.”
Sewitch is an entrepreneur and business psychologist. He serves as the vice president of global organization development for WD-40 Company. Sewitch can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org