Treat prospective employees like prospective clients

There is never an excuse for poor manners, which some companies apparently have.

I’m sitting here looking at photos of my daughter, Vicky, taken during her graduation last weekend from the University of Tampa. It was her fourth big graduation — and possibly the last — unless she goes on to a doctorate.

Of course, there was high school. Then community college. Next came the University of Florida. And last weekend it was University of Tampa, where she had enrolled in a double masters program in the fall of 2009, in the midst of the Great Recession. 

Now, here she is with an MBA and a Masters in Marketing, ready to embark on what her dad and I hope will be a long, happy and fruitful career. 

In anticipation of the big day, Vicky had been on the hunt for a job linked to what she has learned over the past few years. The good news is she had plenty of interviews — to me, a sure sign that the economy is on its long, upward swing again. But the bad news, from what she has relayed back to me, is that many companies handled their interviews like they were still in the midst of a recession, with hundreds of applicants applying for one job — and little concern for how each jobseeker was treated.

At one large Sarasota firm, she had been interviewed by the Human Resources director and was recommended for a second sit-down with some of the top managers. She appeared early on the day of the interview, but the three managers who came to the interview were late. No apology. They asked terse questions, acted disinterested in her answers and walked out in less than half an hour. Later they sent an email thanking Vicky for applying but saying they had picked someone else. The kicker? They thanked her for applying for a job she hadn’t even applied for. My reaction? There’s a problem in that company.

In bad economic times, employers think they can afford to be choosy and not be concerned about how they treat prospective employees.

There were issues with some other companies, where the individuals doing the hiring didn’t respond to an email or phone call — even though Vicky was among the finalists for the job. Even when she filed some applications there was no acknowledgement — not even a form letter email response. How hard is that in this age of technological wonders?

The good news is that she will be going to work for a community bank that, like some we mention in this issue’s cover story on banking, is growing and prospering. Before she got the job, she had interviewed with many within the bank hierarchy — and all were friendly, engaging and interested in what she had to say.

There is never an excuse for poor manners, which some companies apparently have. In bad economic times, employers think they can afford to be choosy and not be concerned about how they treat prospective employees. But, guess what? Those times, they are a changing. And as the economy improves and more Baby Boomers decide to retire, employers will have a shrinking workforce available to choose from. 

Some of the best advice I’ve seen is to treat prospective employees like they are prospective clients. That will build your reputation — something crucial in the decade to come when job applicants will increasingly be viewed as potential valuable assets.

In the meantime, it would be a good idea for companies to remember that younger jobseekers, especially those of the Millenial generation, don’t take things sitting down. Ever heard of glassdoor.com? Take a look and see how some companies have been eviscerated by employees, former employees and prospective employees. 

If you have any special interviewing techniques for potential hires, please send them along so we can share with others.

Categories: Opinion