Last updated: February 21. 2014 8:33PM - 678 Views
Diana Searls

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Editor’s note: Today’s column was first published in the Made in Dayton blog at www.madeindaytonblog.com

Most would agree that finding quality people is absolutely essential to a successful business because it’s the starting point of the employment relationship. Ohio’s employment rate currently hovers around 7-8%, making the employment market a buyer’s market. The buyers (hiring companies) can dictate the process, and the sellers (potential candidates) are at their mercy. This is not necessarily a good thing.

The Employer Perspective

My work as a trainer and consultant has enabled me to see both sides of the employee-employer relationship. My clients (employers) lament about being able to find qualified, ready-to-work people (those who aren’t shocked at their first view of work in a machine shop) who can pass the initial (and later random) drug test.

The Employee Perspective

Adult participants in career tech programs lament about being able, qualified, drug free, and eager to work in a machine shop, and still not being able to get an interview. They apply online (the only way most employers accept applications these days), and more often than not never hear back from the potential employer. If they try to be proactive and call a potential employer, they are greeted with voice mail that informs them that the company is not taking applications. If they attempt to drop their resume off they encounter signs in employers’ lobbies that say “We aren’t hiring”; in many places, candidates are not provided with a place to leave their resumes; “Please go to our web site to complete an application” is a common (and discouraging) direction given to them.

I’m all for technology, but really? Is this the best we can do?

No wonder my clients tell me they make hires with their fingers crossed, hoping the candidate will “work out.” Online applications are definitely not the best tool for beginning an employment relationship. Why?

Three reasons:

1. They can be “fooled” - Even people with low intelligence know how to “fool” most online applications; some applications actually ask questions like, “Have you ever stolen anything from a previous employer?” Would anyone say “yes” to that question? Sterling Info Systems, a provider of pre-employment screening recently stated on their web site, “Applicants falsify resumes 40 percent of the time.” If applicants do that on their resumes, they can certainly do it on online applications; they could even have someone else do the application for them!

2. They don’t present an adequate picture of a candidate - Consider a person who was convicted of a crime 20 years ago; if they answer “yes” to the question, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?”, they are usually eliminated, yet rehabilitated candidates can be excellent candidates. Unfortunately they will probably never make it to the next step in the selection process because they don’t look good on “paper” or “online”.

3. They don’t present a complete picture of the candidate – Studies have shown repeatedly that communication encompasses three components: words, tone, and non-verbals. Tone and non-verbals are far more important than words, yet an online application focuses 100 percent on words. To get an accurate picture of a candidate non-verbals and tone must also be evaluated in a face-to-face conversation.

What to do? Open up the hiring process at your company; make it more people-oriented. Rely less on technology and more on human interaction (it’s the best way to assess a candidate). Companies of excellence invite in-person employment inquiries. They place their brightest, cheeriest people in their lobbies and train them to extend the human touch to everyone who enters the door. What an excellent way to get a first (and much more accurate) impression of an employment candidate!

Diana Searls provides training and consulting services to organizations in the Greater Dayton Area through Partners in Business Solutions, Upper Valley Career Center Adult Division.

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