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I was on LinkedIn recently, when I read a post from a friend of mine.  He was appalled by the fact that during a recent job search, he didn’t hear back from more than 90% of the places he applied to.

He also shared a note he got back – 3 months later – from one organization.

In a pretty standard looking form letter, the organization thanked him for applying to the role, and said that they got 820 applications for the position, and unfortunately wouldn’t be pursuing him for the selection process.

People on the posting were mixed, about 50% were impressed that he got a response, and 50% were insulted that he got a canned response.

I’ve been on both sides of the table. I hired (and fired) dozens of people in my old job, and it was the hardest thing I ever did. There are so many moving parts to the hiring process, its’ an exhausting process that takes about 3x as much time as you think it might, and has an incredibly steep learning curve.

Like anything that you are new at, I absolutely SUCKED my first dozen or so interviews, but after doing literally hundreds of interviews (including what I liked to call “Speed Dating Interviews” at Fanshawe College for Computer Programming interns, a program that I was incredibly proud of), I became very good at it.

It still sucked the life out of me though. It is complicated, exhausting, and there are entire parts of the process that are mired in red tape where you literally are forbidden from saying anything for fear you break some arcane HR or governmental rule and find yourself without a job.

“Constructive criticism”? HAH! I wish I could tell you not to sit with your arms behind your head, or to come with a better portfolio for the designer gig…heck I broke the rules and told one candidate that it was down to them and one other person, and we ended up going with the other person because they were in the other office’s city, but that I would like very much to offer them a position in home office as soon as one came up…I was asked never to say anything like that again.

So let me break that 820 resumes down for you.

Of those 820 resumes, about 270 of them were just “blind resumes”, as in they didn’t even read the job requirements, you got designers applying for development jobs, and developers applying for project manager jobs, and project managers applying for design jobs.

315 had some sort of horrible error on the resume that put them in the “review later” pile (I’ll be honest, “later” never seems to come when you have a pile of 315 resumes staring at you).

120 of them looked good, but the people were not in the right geographical area (if this is not a remote position). 80 of them were straight up not what we are looking for. 14 of them were no longer available while you were reading 820 resumes.

Now you’ve got 21 resumes to actually review and decide which 12 people you are going to bring in for face to face (keeping in mind that each initial interview is about 1 hour, you need to block a 30 minute buffer between each one, and follow up interviews will be 1-2 hours as well). 4 of those people don’t ever respond to your emails and phone calls. 3 of them book an interview and don’t show up on the day of. You end up booking 5 interviews over 2 days, and call in 5 of the other 21 that didn’t make your top 12.

Meanwhile, you have a day job, and while you take 2 months of your life to try to find that one person, you have had to be “on” constantly for these people, be energetic and enthusiastic, even to the people who are like trying to pull teeth from a goose, when you know that there’s a spark of something that you want to pull out of them, but they are really nervous, and you don’t want that to jade the other, more junior members of your team that are also interviewing the person.

It’s possible that maybe you don’t have the energy to write back to all 820 of them with hand written notes of consolation…especially since over 2/3 of them couldn’t even be bothered to read the actual posting.

I’ve been on both sides of the table, and I know how much it sucks on each side. For those who were insulted by the form letter, please remember what you are saying now when you are in a position to hire in the future, and I wish you only the best of luck.

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