So….It’s You Again….

Over the years, I’ve easily spent thousands of hours reviewing applications, resumes and speaking with applicants about various employment opportunities.

There are the people I talk to once and never again….there are the people I ultimately hire and speak to regularly throughout the process and beyond….and then there are the Repeaters….the people who apply for my openings on a regular basis and who are as familiar to me as my own family members….the crazy ones I only see at weddings and funerals and who always end up doing something wildly inappropriate, but awesomely entertaining.

When I see the Repeaters pop up in my applicant feed, I can immediately picture them, along with their list of accomplishments….which says nothing about my memory, just how short their lists are.

I know all about their various misfortunes, their divorces and how many times they’ve been remarried. I am privy to their financial hardships and their complicated relationships with the legal system, unemployment system, public assistance system….pretty much any system.

I groan and curse and complain a little….because certain rules I’m required to abide by mean I can’t just ignore them….but deep down, I’m also a little intrigued by the all the weird possibilities our next meeting could hold.

Not all repeaters are the same though, so my level of intrigue is largely based on the category I’ve assigned them to.

My categories are as follows:

Category #1 – Please Take Pity On Me

This group represents my lowest level of intrigue, just so you know.

In my role, I don’t hire for highly technical positions…advanced degrees or specialized areas of study are not required….but my jobs do require a certain skill set and a short list of minimum qualifications….like passing certain parameters of a background check….passing a drug test, having and/or having the ability to obtain a driver’s license….a pulse….Background

So, when I reject applicants because they don’t meet the base criteria for hiring, it’s generally not the kind of thing that is likely to change in a week or even several months. Some applicants accept this fact and move on, but there are others who apparently prefer to re-hash rejection over and over again.

This category of Repeaters is the group most likely to cry during their interview as they implore me to reconsider because this job could mean the difference between losing the family home to foreclosure or keeping a roof over their children’s heads….The difference between a shabby Charlie Brown Christmas Tree and empty stockings Christmas morning or a fulfilled holiday wish list.

Though I am being a bit flippant here, I am not a heartless soul who lacks compassion for these folks….granted, I feel a little less compassion when they come and go in a luxury car with the latest iPhone technology in hand, but I still feel for them.  It’s just that sometimes, there are barriers too insurmountable to overcome and no attempts to try and appeal to me on an emotional level will change that fact.

For one, I don’t make the rules.

For two, managing my part of the business is not about choosing the most down trodden, it’s about choosing the most qualified for the job and emotions have little place in the selection process.  That’s why our interview questions do not include any of the following:

“Tell me, what has been your most emotionally traumatic experience to date and why?”  

“On a scale of 1-10, how depressed would you say you are in comparison to the other applicants in the waiting room?”

“If I can’t give you this job, how likely are you to wind up sleeping under a bridge….or jumping off one?”  

Category #2 – My Significant Other Made Me 

There are many who fall into this category….they are the group who continue to apply because a spouse or parent make them….in many cases, it’s the significant other who has actually filled out the application and submitted the resume and the person who show’s up for the interview has no idea what they’ve applied for.

About once a month, I meet with an applicant named Marc who applies for one of three positions.  When he arrives for his interview, the first question he asks is:

“Now, which job are we going to talk about this time?” 

To his credit, he shows up for every interview looking like he just stepped off the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port….Fresh from an afternoon of sailing along the coast with Robert Kennedy, Jr. and Cheryl Hines….His hair is perfectly styled and combed, but without looking as though it required substantial effort.  His khaki’s are neatly pressed and paired with a tasteful collared shirt and tie, occasionally, he wears a sport coat.  He even wears proper socks and shoes and his wire rimmed glasses are stylish and high end.

He looks the part….better than the part, actually….but then he opens his mouth and becomes proof positive that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover and also, that he probably didn’t dress himself.

He refers to his many past positions with various employers as “stints.”

As in:

“I did a stint with Fedex.”

“I did a stint with the Post Office.”

“I did a stint at Walmart.” 

There are many, many “stints” to cover and he’s never able to explain why he left any of them, only that his wife is tired of all his “stints” and so that’s why he’s applied….he’s looking for something that might be less “stint-like.”

When I ask why he thinks my particular position won’t be just another “stint,” he says he doesn’t really know, his wife just thinks it’s a good company and makes him apply….I suspect it’s also because he’s already worked everywhere else and we are one of his last remaining options.

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Category #3 – Unemployment Made Me

This category of Repeaters, to borrow a quote from Dumb & Dumber, “really chaps my ass.”

It’s always amazing to me how many people will tell me at some point in the process that they don’t really want the job, they just have to apply in order to satisfy Unemployment.

I asked an applicant once if he wasn’t at all concerned I might call Unemployment and report him and he laughed and said:

“Go for it….I’m a tiny fish in a huge pond, it’s not worth the resources to investigate me.”

Lovely….

This group of Repeaters reapply constantly….for jobs they are not even remotely qualified for….jobs that are fifty or more miles away from where they are actually willing to work….and in the event they show up for the interview, they will nitpick and debate every detail of the jobs responsibilities and occasionally toss in statements like:

“Yeah, I broke my back and blew out my knee and tore my rotator cuff at my last job….I can’t stand for more than ten minutes at a time, I can’t lift anything heavier than a sheet of paper and my right arm is required to dangle at my side for at least 12 hours a day.”

Now, as an HR Manager who abides by the law, I will tell you that statements like the above mean nothing.  I do not write them down on any of the paperwork I use to document the interview and I ask no follow-up questions….However, let’s be real.

It’s like a prospective juror telling an attorney during jury selection for a high profile case he REALLY wants to sit on, that he has not at all been influenced by the media surrounding the case….Lies.

So, though I don’t write it down and it’s genuinely never the reason I ultimately reject the person, it’s still in my head and influencing me on some level.  Often, it will prompt me to call their bluff.

“No worries,” I might say, “I can assess the possibility of accommodating you in some way, or we could explore another opportunity.”

At this, the applicant will waffle a bit, maybe toss in a few more undesirable ailments….a peg leg, uncontrolled schizophrenia, narcolepsy….and when I stay my course, they will ultimately agree that we can consider other options and then neglect to respond to any further correspondence.  Box checked!

Most of the time though, they don’t show up for the interviews at all.  They will confirm a date and time and never arrive.  Or, they will send me an email five minutes before their scheduled time to tell me they will not make it because their car broke down……..someone got sick….their brothers, cousin’s, uncles, sisters, neighbor’s plumber was involved in some sort of freak unclogging accident, died and they just can’t mentally manage it.

I will express some modicum of sympathy and offer some rescheduling options and never hear from them again.

The worst though, are those who respond to the emailed interview invite with something like:

Applicant:  (From email address, BigPimpin)  Got your message, how much do it pay?

Me:  Dear Mr. BigPimpin:  It pay $X.

Applicant:  That to low.  I making more on umployment….I need $100 hourly least.

Me:  Dear Mr. BigPimpin:  That is nowhere near the market standard for this position and according to your application, you have never earned anywhere near that with any of your prior employers.

Applicant:  Schedule?

Me:  Dear Mr. BigPimpin:  I assume you are asking what the schedule for this position will require?  If that’s the case, you would be required to work X.

Applicant:  Can’t.  I need every third Wednesday off from 10:00am to 2:00pm and every full moon.  Religious reasons.

Me:  Dear Mr. BigPimpin:  Well, I suppose this isn’t the job for you then.  Best of luck in finding an employer who will accommodate you.

P.S., Mr. BigPimpin, just so you know…none of the above will have changed when you apply for this again in a week.  Just so you know….please consider this….please.

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