Monthly Archives: December 2016

Candidate Bashing in Gold

A recent study by Monster reveals the most frequent recruitment mistakes in the eyes of the applicants: What makes employers fail most frequently in their recruiting methods? What is Number One in terms of bad style?

By Jens Kügler

It has constantly been discussed what candidates must and must not do in applications and job interviews. However, an employment contract will only be signed if both sides say yes, the employer and the applicant. And the companies, too, make mistakes in the process of recruiting. This is proved by a study of the career portal Monster. Together with the University of Bamberg, the online job mediators interviewed nearly 5,000 job seekers and published the results of their study last week.

What upsets candidates most likely? Let’s go through the list of criticisms exceptionally from the bottom up. For just over a third of all applicants, the job requirements are too rigid and inflexible so that career changers have little chance. In doing so, it is forgotten that people from outside the core business want to advance. They are motivated to learn and contribute new, useful expertise to the company with their experience.

About 50 per cent of all respondents are annoyed about poorly conducted job interviews by the HR staff. Thus, this complaint point landed third place on the bashing list. About 60 per cent even said they had at least once cancelled a job offer after their impressions from the personal conversation. The reasons mentioned here are unprofessional appearances on the employer’s side, but also organizational flaws, punctuality or superficial conversation.

Number two in the no-go-charts of the applicants are bad or half-hearted dealings with them. About 75 percent said they get frustrated about too long waiting times, sustained responses or completely missing feedback. As negative as that are the widespread standard response letters without reasonable justifications. In other words, employers or HR personnel don’t find a fine response among the candidates if they can’t put themselves in the position of an applicant or if this seems to leave them cold.

And the “winners” of the fictive Candidate Bashing in Gold Award are unsuitable company presentations. 80 per cent of all job seekers criticized that, as the study says. What they specifically mean by this are meaningless descriptions of the enterprise and job as well as dishonest, exaggerated or even misleading information about the company. The look and feel and usability of tools are also important. Candidates don’t feel comfortable about bad design, confusing company or job descriptions or too slow and technically inadequate career websites.

It seems as if many old, established methods and encrusted practices have to be reconsidered by entrepreneurs and managers. This includes practices in the job selection, the selection of candidates and dealing with the candidates.

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Time for New Testimonials

What do employers look for when deciding for an applicant? According to a recent study, it’s the work experience which is far more important than classical testimonials. However, practical work experience has hardly been documented in applications and rarely made clear for evaluations and applicant comparisons.

Written by Jens Kügler

What is the best way for an employer to get a picture of his applicant: the school certificates? The university degree? The Camber of Commerce Training Certificate? Or the work certificate of the last employer? All these are important, but do not convey a complete picture of the candidate’s actual knowledge and abilities.

Job experience beats school skills, says a comment on a recent study of the Bertelsmann Foundation, a famous German think tank for social and economic issues. In the survey, 78 per cent of all HR managers stated that the results of informal learning, ie the practical know-how acquired during professional life, are “important” or “very important” for them. On the other hand, they regarded school and university degrees as well as continuing education certificates as relevant only with 57 and 63 percent respectively.

But how can practical experience be assessed and made comparable? References of expertise gained in professional practice are not standardized and certified. Practical experience and acquired knowledge often remain invisible to the employer or recruiter in a usual application dossier. For the team leader, the rationalizer, the trade fair and event organizer or the troubleshooter for logistics, there is neither a “grade” like at school, nor any standard formulation as in work certificates.

What’s needed is new testimonies, says another comment on the Bertelsmann study. But how can these new testimonies be created?

“My suggestion to all candidates is: compile a competency profile. This is particularly important for people with ten, fifteen or more years of professional experience,” explains Ute Hagen who deals with such issues in her practicing as personnel consultant. She recommends a list in which the applicant makes his future employer or personal trader see: What can I do for the company? How can my experiences particularly contribute to the success of the enterprise?

Case studies can serve as role model as many companies use them to make their customers feel confident. Such case studies usually start with a few sentences about the problem or the challenge. Then they illustrate the solution itself. In an application, the candidate should describe his contribution to this solution. Eventually, case studies describe the success results––be it increased sales, new contracts, more productivity or lower costs.

“A competency profile is, so to speak, the entrance ticket to the company”, as Ute Hagen adds. “And in the curriculum vitae, it is most important to show what contributions I made to the success in the company. And that does not mean WHAT did I do, but HOW did I perform my tasks and which were the results for the company?“.

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Consulting contra Start-Up Crisis

Setting up a business needs courage. Yet not everybody dares. But can a business consultant take the fear of a potential entrepreneur?

Each one of us knows them: the super talented craftsman. The brilliant organizer. The exceptionally skilled graphic designer. These are the people who everyone in the circle of acquaintances asks time and time again: “Why don’t you start your own business with your abilities? You would be your own boss, you would work, when you want and you would make much more money! “.

In some people such words arouse desires or even a passionate fire. Often, the fire does not have to be ignited by third parties: it is already blazing deep inside. On behalf of a customer, I recently tested a new, family-run wellness hotel in the Alps. Its owner and builder devoted himself to every guest in the restaurant for at least ten minutes with a personal conversation about whether everything was right or that he could do this and that for her. He talked to me––it felt like two hours––about his passion and his dreams having come true with this hotel. I had just asked him about his philosophy as a host.

In many people, however, such “why” questions as described above seem to only cause negative emotions. They even make them feel ashamed. “I just can’t start my own business. No, I need the security of my job and my regular income. And without my schedule I would miss any structure … “.

All these statements are clearly debatable. The “security of the job” does not exist as employers may go bankrupt or release workers. The “regular income” then consists only of unemployment benefit and social welfare. So these fears against self-employment are ultimately diffuse. In his video for the industry forum (in German), the franchise consultant Reinhard Wingral speaks of two levels of fear––and the first level mentioned there is the personal-emotional one with all the rationally unpredictable feelings. Wingral compares them with fears such as the flight anxiety of many people even though––as he says––they all know that the taxi journey to the airport is much more dangerous than the flight itself.

In a second level of anxiety the factual concerns are settled. They include the fear of actual risks expressed in words like, “I can not finance a foundation, I do not want to be overindebted” or “I’m afraid of making the typical beginner’s mistakes which make so many start ups fail “.

Here, however, Reinhard Wingral motivates potential founders in his video. As soon as the fears are tangible ones, he says, the counselor may help. He can systematically process data and facts and explain the context. He creates market analyzes, business plans, financing concepts and marketing approaches. After all, a consultant lets the entrepreneur estimate: Do the risks or opportunities of my business idea prevail? Also, an experienced consultant does not only offer commercial know-how but probably business ideas, too

Conclusion: A company consultant is not a therapist for subterranean fears. But he can help if it is only the fear of making wrong decisions which prevents people form founding a company.

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