A Message to Recruiters from a Candidate in the Trenches

There are no special unicorn candidates, and y’all are wearing the regular unicorns out.

I had an experience while job hunting today that led me to write a rant on LinkedIn. Many recruiters (not all, but a disturbing number) seem to be going out of their way to make the job hunting process as burdensome as possible for candidates. And I truly don’t understand why. With everything that’s going on in the world right now, some of the “tests” and requirements seem…arbitrary. The behaviors — the hounding followed by ghosting; the lack of meaningful feedback and follow up — are disturbing. Sometimes heartbreaking. I can’t make it make sense. 

For example: 

As a candidate, you’re expected to negotiate. This is one of the tests. Now if you don’t negotiate, you’re clearly “weak and spineless,” and therefore not a good fit. If you do negotiate (especially as a woman, and even more so as a woman of color), then it’s “How dare you have the temerity to not accept what we’re offering you??!!” You’re viewed as aggressive and ungrateful, and once again: not a good fit. You see the Catch-22, right? It feels like a war that candidates can’t win. Especially candidates of color. 

Another hypothetical example, this time to do with job requirements:

Company A is looking for a ball boy/girl. (Ball person?)  Logic says, ok…entry level; little to no experience required. However when you take a look at the job req., the position could only possibly be filled by Serena Williams herself. And only on her best day. It’s ridiculous. What is the reason for the disparity between job requirements and job description? And what kind of chutzpah does it take to interview “Serena Williams” for the job, but offer her the ball person salary? The right thing to do would be to scope up the job level and make the salary commensurate with experience? Right?? 

I’ve been job hunting for several months now, and I don’t know about other candidates, but I’m exhausted. Actually, I take that back. I do know about other candidates, because I see their posts, and I get their inbox messages and emails. We’re all tired of the not-very-merry-go-round. Hiring managers: there’s really no need for all these games. 

Just. Be. Human. 

Just. Be Humane. 

Just. Be. Logical.

Just. Be. Ethical.

Pay. Us. Fairly.

Pay. Us. Equitably.

No. More. Ghosting.

No more arbitrary tests.

Stop. The. Friction.

Stop. The. Games.

That’s all there is to it. 

There are no special unicorns. There are only regular unicorns. And you are wearing us out. 

Here’s the original text of my LinkedIn post:

Recruiters/hiring managers: there is a middle ground between “testing” candidates and making them jump through unnecessary hoops. Consider whether your “test” is even worth it. What is it proving, exactly? I’m not speaking about aptitude tests that directly relate to a candidate’s ability to perform the role in question. Those are necessary. (That said: do you need 5 of them for 1 candidate??) If the test does not relate to their day-to-role, then why? I’m referring to “unicorn” tests, off the wall questions (“If you had to choose between a rabbit and an aardvark, which would you choose, and why?”), random scenarios that have never happened, and never will, etc.

Reconsider the purpose. Reconsider your strategy. Reconsider whether what you’re testing them on (and possibly rejecting them because of) is something easily teachable after they get the role. Reconsider whether it even matters. Seriously.

Also: we’re in the middle of a pandemic. For Black people, we’re in the middle of two pandemics. People are stressed. People are exhausted. People are overwhelmed by the 2020-ness of it all.

Please be mindful of that. Be strategic, yes. But also: Be empathetic. Be understanding. Be humane.

Namaste 🙏🏾

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Text and images ⒸLisa Hurley/@happyhappyphoenix


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