Monday, September 30, 2013

Small Businesses: Job Candidates Cannot Find You


My horror stories as an applicant have focused on large companies; however, I am an equal opportunity candidate. I apply for positions in companies of all sizes, and I like the thought of working for a small, local company because I would love to actively participate in a company's growth and success. I want to be engaged and committed to a company on a personal and emotional level, I want to share what I've learned from personal experiences and college courses, and I want to try out some of ideas that I've had over the course of my college career; even if it means being paid minimum wage to wear a lot of hats. Before we go any further, I want you to understand one thing:
I want to be the background to your foreground. I am willing to lead a team or department, but my vision is to make your vision work.

I am Looking For You

Chances are that we'll never meet... I scour the "jobs" section of Craigslist looking for you, I pore over the LinkedIn local business groups to catch a glimpse of you, I search tirelessly for you on Google Plus, and I lurk on Twitter to hear a peep from you. I am praying to the HR gods that you understand the difference between an independent contractor and an employee, and I am desperately hoping that you don't have an unpaid intern performing duties that are irrelevant to her/his field of study. Most of all, I am wishing with all of my heart that you have found people who are as passionate and committed to your vision as you are; however, I will never know because I can't find you.

Why Can't I Find You?

Why can't I find you? After all, you've posted ads on Craigslist, you are part of several communities on LinkedIn, you have a page on Google Plus, you set up a Twitter account, and you have a company website. You've done everything you can to find me, but we just can't seem to connect. Is it destiny that has prevented us from meeting? Is it some universal law that is keeping us apart?

The good news is that it's not destiny, or some sort universal law that is keeping us apart. The bad news is that, in spite of all of your efforts, I still can't see you for five reasons:
  1. The job ad on Craigslist looks shady.
  2. The website is incomplete, or outdated.
  3. Your LinkedIn account looks inactive.
  4. The Google Plus (and/or Facebook) page is empty.
  5. Your Twitter account is dead.
For now, let's talk about the first two reasons why I can't see you:

The Job Ad on Craigslist Looks Shady

Your budget doesn't allow you to post an ad on big name online recruiting boards such as Monster or CareerBuilder; which is why you are posting the ad on Craigslist.

As a candidate, I respect you because you are more interested in paying your employees than launching an expensive recruitment campaign. However, this does not prevent you from including information about your company and the position(s) you want to fill. You can give the following information in the ad:
  1. Your company's name, address, and telephone number
  2. An accurate job description
  3. Knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to perform the job
  4. A link to your company's website (if you have one)
  5. Your company's email address 
Candidates can't tell you if they are qualified for the position if you don't tell them what needs to be done. Providing a job description and requirements in the ad will help reduce the number of resumes you receive, and it will help you find the person you need. If you need help with this, check out O*NET's keyword search. Just type in the position you are hiring for and choose from a list of results. You will get a list of tasks commonly performed in the position, the tools used to perform those tasks, and the skills that a candidate needs to perform those tasks.

One last thing on the subject of evasive job ads: would you send your name, address, phone number, and work history to an anonymous person/company at kzwyx@job.craigslist.org?

I doubt it... Like me, you would assume that the poster is a predator who is waiting for some desperate job seeker to share this information with her/him. We both have enough problems in our lives without adding "being stalked by an axe-wielding maniac who knows where I live."

The Website is Incomplete or Outdated

Let's suppose for a minute that you included some information about your company on Craigslist. I Googled your company and found your company's website. This is wonderful!

I am able to see which social media networks the company is linked to, I can read the company's mission statement, I can learn about the products/services that the company offers, I can find out who is going to read my cover letter, and I can tailor my resume to match your company's needs. I really feel like I hit the jackpot here; especially since you have added a blog to the website!

Then again... Maybe not... I see a brief, and vague, description about the products/services that the company offers; I can't find the company's mission statement anywhere on the website; the cover letter and resume that I just emailed to the address on the website has been returned as "undeliverable;" I passed 123 Anywhere Road the other day, and your company wasn't located there; the company can't be reached at the phone number listed on the website; and the "Blog" section is empty.

Remember: you have to GIVE information about the company to GET information from applicants. You should consider including the following information:
  • What products/services does your company offer? How are you different from other companies that offer similar products/services?
  • The company's mission statement is a reflection of your vision, and you should share this vision with job seekers. Why? Because if we can't believe in or commit to your vision, then we probably won't apply; however, if we can believe in and commit to your vision, then we will  apply for jobs.
  •  The blog on the website is your opportunity to connect with potential candidates. Share your success stories, let employees share their success stories, notify people of upcoming events, and share why your company is different.
  • The only way that potential candidates are going to find your company is if you tell us where to find it, and how to contact you.
If you are stumped about creating a website for your company, or you just aren't sure what to put on the website, here is a list of free website builders that you can use to create a website for your small business. Also, look at what successful small businesses in your area are doing on their websites; it might inspire you to come up with a design that differentiates you from the competition.

Stay tuned because next week we'll talk about the last three reasons why job candidates can't find you.

Post Disclaimers

The Craigslist address, kzwyx@job.craigslist.org, is fictitious (to the best of my knowledge). If it is yours, please let me know in the comments, and I will replace it with a different one.

The use of the company names and logos for Craigslist, LinkedIn, Google, Facebook, and Twitter in this article are not intended to imply that the contents of this article are approved by, endorsed by, affiliated with, or sponsored by any of these companies.

The intent of this article is to illustrate my personal experiences and opinions about the misuse of social media in general. It is not meant to discourage existing and potential users of this social media from using social media for its intended purpose.

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