Walk a Mile in My Shoes (Empathy for candidates)

 

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This week I came across the most abhorrent and unacceptable attitude towards candidates  which needs to be thrust into the spotlight.   A discussion was posted on an online forum around advice and tips to assist candidates.   It was a great opportunity to support, encourage and add value.  But I was  gobsmacked.  There it was in black and white the expressed  attitude of many.   

An Internal HR/Recruiter of a well known  organisation posted the following in a list of  their advice tips:

Don't call to check if we received your application. A good recruiter will get back to you even with an auto message. It's an email, of course we received it.

We often don't have the resources to provide one on one personal "let me drop everything to check my inbox for your application while you're on the phone with me" contact with every applicant. And it won't improve the applicant's chances of getting the job.it will just add strain to the recruiter.

WOW –the arrogancy rendered me speechless.  I could of course respond to the actual content about follow-up emails, calls,  ATS systems etc,  but it is not the point of this article and is moot.  These comments indicate the tip of  iceberg of what are the undercurrent attitudes held by many recruiters and HR people. These tips were not just an expression of frustration about workload and organisational resource issues (which do affect many organisations for sure) but an intrinsic belief that   "candidates are lowly job seekers who will toe the line when and how we deem appropriate".  A 'master VS slave' orientation.

For every one person that speaks their thought & beliefs many others will be feeling the exact same way, but through fear they remain silent.  Thoughts and feelings are often just as loud and influential as words and actions.     So this persons expressed attitude is without doubt shared by many HR/Recruiters and most certainly felt by candidates.

Do such appalling attitudes towards candidates spring from ignorance, arrogance, incompetence,  immaturity, ego or a mixture of all?   I do think in many cases it is a  disconnect with empathy and the ability to walk a mile in someone’s shoes.   But these  attitudes are dangerous and unacceptable on so many human, professional and commercial levels.  It's just not smart business to have your company and brand being negatively perceived as  a result of poor HR/Recruitment behaviours.   Whilst there are always 2 sides to every story and insights and knowledge drive understanding, the overarching attitude by HR/Recruiters needs urgent humanising

Life dishes out all manner experiences and opportunities to us.   Many  have had a hard and difficult  life and others a more fortunate happier ride.   And within those constructs a plethora of experiences are encountered - some being foisted without choice, others are sought out and grabbed with gusto (albeit negative or positive).   

We are constantly adding to our insights mosaic and developing our unique ‘Circle of Reference’ .  The propensity to have a deep understanding and empathy for others springs from the size of our Circle of Reference.

Circle of Reference =  Experiences + Knowledge + Insights +  Understanding + Empathy

And whilst we may not have experienced the exact same difficult situation of another person  we will generally be able to relate to the feelings that those situations raise and engender. If you haven’t gone through the trials and tribulations of finding a new job (eg: via unemployment, redundancy, being a new graduate, needing to escape a toxic company  or are over 50yo etc. ) you won’t have that guidance reference to draw from and an inherent appreciation of how a jobseeker may be feeling.  But you will be able to draw from your own life mosaic and Circle of Reference to similar feelings of :

Deep Frustration | Not feeling valued | Being Rejected | Not feeling good enough | Lack of self worth | Loss of confidence   Financial  worry | Loss of motivation  |Vulnerability

And from an EQ reflection greater empathy develops.   The writer of the nasty tips  certainly didn’t demonstrate any cognitive understanding  whatsoever.  And instead of embedding empathy into attitudes and behaviours the  default position was  of vitriolic deflection, blame and attack. 

 Recruitment is a 2-way street and both sides need to try to understand and appreciate  each others role and problems.  And  I can hear the quick fire protests from many HR & recruiters ........... ‘but candidates do this; are this;  they need to understand;  blah blah blah”    But please just wear this on the chin and lift your game if needed and ask yourself in the quiet of your office :

"do I really know what it would feel like to ‘walk a mile in a candidates shoes ?”

Be kind - its good human and business sense.