Hard to Hire

How to stop getting ghosted

24-year-old Hunter is confused. He’s looking for a job, but after two supposedly successful interviews he’s still in the hiring process. In fact, he is in the same multi-interview process with three other companies, all of which have told him repeatedly how interested they are in him. But if he is such a perfect fit for the corporate world, why is he still at home gaming online all day with dudes in Finland?

Hunter’s opinion is that these companies are much more interested in questioning his worthiness than understanding why he is right for the job. He feels undervalued by organizations that have not even hired him yet! He’s starting to think about quitting a job he has not officially been offered. He thinks, “Maybe I can just take some time off”—whatever that means when you don’t have a job—“or go back and get a master’s degree.”

Because Hunter lives at home (with parents who are actually kind of glad he still lives with them), he does not have any significant bills to pay. Getting a job is what society tells him he needs to do, but it is not in any way what he actually has to do. If you’re thinking Hunter’s circumstances are rare, you’re not aware of what is now a cultural norm; Pew Research reports that 52% of young adults (ages 18-29) in the U.S. now live with their parents.

Between long, often confusing hiring practices that make sensitive young people feel “pre- rejected” and minimum motivation to get out and start an independent life, companies will need to dramatically and quickly change their approach to hiring. Below are three tips that have proved effective in helping organizations hire the young workers they need right now. 

  1. Hire faster. These days, if you cannot make a decision on a candidate after two interviews, the issue is likely your hiring process and not the candidate. If you don’t speed up your hiring, expect to be ghosted often, even by those who’ve accepted the job. Remember that when you’re young, the future is next week.
  2. Engage at first sight. Make it extremely obvious how valuable these promising young candidates are to your organization and how their specific talents and abilities can help your company to succeed. Also let them know how their job (and they themselves) will make a difference in the world. People in their 20s are very literal; they will not believe you genuinely value them unless you specifically state it.
    2.5. Pause for the cause. Making young candidates watch an 18-minute orientation video that they cannot pause is a guaranteed way to make them not feel valuable during recruiting or onboarding. Considering they can pause Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and every other video on earth, it makes them feel you don’t know who they are. If there’s one cause all young people can get behind, it’s the pause.
  3. Remove repetition. Young candidates complain of being strung along. Giving them Birkman-ish tests and assessments that ask the exact same questions you asked in a phone/onsite interview makes them feel like you don’t know what you’re doing. Make sure your hiring process moves forward in an orderly fashion and it’s not just a random “gauntlet” of approval.

With the complexities of young people believing the company they’re applying to should have unwavering fairness and a flexible work environment, the real barrier to finding good people (according to the most qualified candidates themselves) is that getting hired seems unnecessarily demoralizing and annoying. And that’s not paraphrasing—that’s exactly what they’ve said! In a series of casual interviews over six months, we were shocked to hear repeatedly from 20- to 32-year-old job candidates that the interview process was humiliating, something they’d prefer not to do if they could find a way around it. Not only did the bad job-search experience drive many to consider doing something with their future besides working; it also was the leading cause of underemployment for those with educations in specific fields. In short, don’t be surprised to learn that your Uber driver has a master’s degree.

We’re not totally off base if we blame employee shortages on the employees themselves. And there’s certainly some truth to the lack of candidates out there: almost half (48%) of unemployed young adults are not looking for a full-time job, reports the Brookings Institute. But it’s interesting that so many of those candidates point to the hiring process as the real culprit. Admittedly, it’s not easy to match the expectations of those who’ve been groomed to expect a lot. Still, we must make sure that in our desperate attempt to get it right, we have not actually increased our chances of getting it wrong.

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