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The Resume Black Hole and Openness

Posted by Colin Kingsbury

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Jan 17, 2006 12:12:00 PM

Great article at BusinessWeek on the number one frustration among jobseekers: the "resume black hole:"
I thought I had heard it all, until a friend in Silicon Valley wrote me with her story of having made eight -- eight! -- visits to an employer, to interview with people on the management team. After that many interviews, you would expect a phone call if you hadn't gotten the job, wouldn't you? No such luck -- she got no call, no letter, not even a boilerplate e-mail brush-off. No communication whatsoever, after eight visits during which she had made friends with the receptionist and met half the managers. How could a company rationalize that kind of shoddy treatment?
Hat tip: Jason Goldberg

How the "Mushroom Treatment" Costs You Candidates
Nothing will influence candidates' perceptions of your company as trongly as their interactions with it after sending their resume. If you give them the "mushroom treatment" (kept in the dark and fed a lot of ....), they will begin to think this is how they would be treated as an employee.

Recent research shows that changing jobs is driven more by "impulse" than rational calculation. How many times have you lost a good candidate because someone else made an offer to him or her first? And how often do you think you could have offered a better opportunity?

How Open Could You Be?
Instead of hitting you with more slogans on how to reduce time to hire, I want to take an alternate route: be more open with candidates about your process. Tell them where they stand: are they on the "A" list or the "C" list? How long will it take before the next cut occurs?

When you tell people nothing, they assume the worst. They may like the idea of working for you more than the other guy, but when the other guy is getting to them faster, he's going to beat you. But, give those candidates meaningful information like, "You're very strong and we'll decide by the end of the week who we want to interview," and you may just keep them interested enough to tell your competitor they're not quite ready yet. While software like our applicant tracking system can certainly make this a lot easier to do on a day-to-day basis, all you really need to get started is a spreadsheet and an email account.

You Get What You Give
About a month ago, we decided to put the pricing for our products right up on our website. Most of our competitors do not, and some will not quote a price until they've played 20 Questions with you first.

We decided to put our pricing up in public as a way to foster trust. By putting a piece of such valuable information out in the open, we demonstrate to customers that we have nothing to hide. We had a lot of debates about this internally and it made many people here uncomfortable, and t he feeling is always that you're "giving something for nothing" at first. But as we go out and talk to future clients, many tell us, "we like that you guys don't play games with this stuff" and you realize that there is a payoff.

Prospects candidates will recognize and respect it when you share valuable information with them. While some of it will work to their advantage (just as we probably could charge some clients more than the list price), in the long run you will come out ahead as you bring more, better people on board AND make their first impression of the company a strongly positive one.