The Problem with HR
by Michael Mayher

Some people often need an adversary or someone to blame for their difficulties, and when you are looking for a job and it isn’t going well or not as easy as you may have assumed, human resources is an easy target. The title of this blog may cause some to think I am going to take an opportunity to trash HR. I have issues with HR as an institution and say with regularity that as a whole, human resources has become less human than ever – because, in most companies it’s true, and I contend it is the primary issue. There is increased reliance upon digital and automated scanning, filing, and responding before an actual person may or may not see your resume. I contend the problem with HR is not the people but rather the processes they’ve adopted. Even among many people I know who work at senior level in HR, they agree and lament about the same things. I think a lot of what they do is not very productive but my purpose today is, instead, to help people to understand some of what they experience and not take things so personally; people’s egos tend to bruise more easily than in the past, skins are unnecessarily thinner for no good reason.

A common complaint I hear from people who were screened on the phone or in person as an initial entry into the interview process, is usually by what may be described as a 20-something, “…who knew nothing about the job I applied for…” and/or, “…didn’t have a clue about what I do or have to offer.” This is especially irritating to people that have middle to senior-level experience.

Yes, it does often seem as though they are not taking your meeting as seriously as you, but there is no intention to marginalize applicants. The fact of the matter is that screening resumes and conducting initial screening interviews is the most undesirable thing HR does, so guess who they task with it? You got it, the newest and youngest members of the staff. Companies receive a LOT of resumes and most of what they receive doesn’t even fit the job specifications. So who else is going to get stuck with the task if not the most junior members of the HR staff? Of course, if you make the effort to be at your best for the interview and you take the time to be there when they just walk down the hallway it is a bit frustrating, but I actually feel somewhat sorry for the junior staffers because they catch all the hostility of applicants who vent their angst and dissatisfaction in general.

So the next time you find yourself in such a situation, cut them some slack; if you are like many who find the job market to be less than encouraging don’t take it out on the first person you meet. Take a deep breath and recognize if that is their system and if you want to be recommended for a second interview round you’ve got to grin and bear it and do what is necessary to demonstrate why you are worthy of further consideration. But the other message is not to use that single initial event, the first interview, as a benchmark to judge whether or not you want to continue, because you haven’t yet met the hiring manager or key decision maker with whom you’d potentially work.

There are more obstacles than ever between you and a hiring manager in front of whom you hope to find yourself seated. Even the simple task of applying for a job online has gotten more difficult. Increasingly, one must register online, or they want a photo. Sometimes there is a request for additional information or some other hoop through which you must jump. The reason for this is to specifically reduce the number of resumes they receive that don’t fit the jobs for which they are looking for qualified individuals. A little ironic that the automated processes put in place to simplify and streamline the selection and hiring process are anything but. Hey, I don’t make the rules and I’ve questioned members of human resources and many of them can’t explain the rhyme or reason for a lot of what they do. However, none of this changes what you must do in order to have your moment with the actual key decision maker. The problem with HR is not the people, but instead it is the layer upon layer of bureaucratic garbage that has nothing to do with your ability to perform the role for which you applied. So don’t allow your frustration to handicap or disqualify you before you have an opportunity to meet the actual person who does the hiring.

More articles by Michael Mayher:
Get Noticed
The Chicken or the Egg
The Confidence Deficit
Earn the Opportunity to Say No
Resume Usefulness
After the Interview
Getting an Invitation
Reference Checked Before the Interview
Networking Effectively
A Failure to Communicate
Increasing Your Chances
Why You Should Heed My Advice

To Those Still Asleep
The Way It Was/The Way It Is
Demonstrating Interest is Not Begging
Confidence is a Key Ingredient
Stop Relying on the Internet
Career Survival Skills: The First Interview
The Interview
Resolve to Make This Year, Your Year
Periodic Update of Your Resume

About the Author: Michael Mayher has been an international direct search recruiter on two continents for over 22 years. A consultant, published author, lecturer and blogger, he re-introduces professionals to critical Soft Skills lost in our digital age and necessary to effectively navigate their careers. You can find more information by visiting his blog and website.  

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