Actually, it is a gamble to even touch on this topic. I am pretty sure that the guilty ones would react negatively to this article and might start emailing me or post hate comments here and there the moment they see this. However, if the facts that I am going to discuss here are not going to be brought out in the open now, then when? Who will? The only intention of even talking about this is to correct how some recruiters in different companies nowadays think. It is to put a stop to some of the not-so-good practices that they (once again, just some of them and I am not generalizing) have been doing that often lead to the right people being set aside and the wrong/undeserving ones being hired instead. This, in turn, results to the company getting the wrong people to work for them and the organization taking a nasty hit because of such a wrong move in the form of attrition and all that.
So, what are some of the critical mistakes that recruiters/headhunters commit when they are going over applications? They better know them so they are more guided in terms of selecting the best people to work for the company. Read on.
1. The school a candidate went to is a big deal.
Well, I am not going to say that more often than not, when an applicant did not go to the country’s most famous universities or colleges; he is not going to be hired anymore. No. What I am going to elaborate on here is the fact that when one did not come from such, he is taking a backseat, he is not considered right off the bat, or there are usually second thoughts. Worse is, the application is put under those who are representing a better/more famous school to just be reviewed at a later time amongst the piles of resumes. This is often true for non-entry level jobs or leadership positions. In fact, even for entry-level vacancies or rank-and-file designations, those who went to the “A-listers” get the recruiters’ attention first. Even in some cases, fresh graduates who came from these universities can get managerial/supervisory positions right away. Yes. You are seeing this right. They have no experiences working as professionals yet but they are already hired for leadership positions in some companies just because they came from these schools. Whether they have connections or not is a different story though. This probably explains why, in some cases, a lot of executives nowadays are from these universities. Okay. They must just be plainly competent, diligent, impressive, productive, innovative, and fast-learning but there is no denying that getting a managerial/officer/supervisory position early in their career, like upon graduating or just a few months in the company, might have facilitated their early climb up the corporate ladder to become Senior Managers, Vice Presidents, or higher.
But, how come some recruiters/employers have this mindset to begin with? The answer is simple. This has something to do with the analysis/thinking that when a candidate came from the country’s top universities/colleges (where it is not really a walk in the park to get into in the first place), then it is already an assurance that the person is very competent and smart, which is wrong. While this is frequently true, it is not the case every time. There are even times that some of those who graduated from these top schools are the ones who are giving any company a headache. This is because although they have impressive knowledge and skills, their attitude is sometimes unmanageable and intolerable (smart alecks).
They have to consider that not all of the best high school students in the Philippines (the valedictorians, salutatorians, etc) ended up studying in these so-called “top universities”. The point is not all of the brightest students in the country can be found with them. There are some who might have the following cases below:
- It is either they were not able to take the entrance examinations there for some reason or they really chose not to take them at all.
- They could not afford the tuition and other accompanying fees that come with studying in the country’s most prestigious private institutions because they were not able to get a scholarship somewhere or whatnot. This is true for those intelligent graduates who came from impoverished or middle-class families but failed or just were not able due to take advantage of scholarship offers/financial assistance due to one stumbling block or another.
- They want to prove that even if they would not come out of a famous school, they can go somewhere in the business fields or move up the ranks in any company they end up working for.
Therefore, the school a candidate came from must not be the primary basis or worse, the sole reference for hiring an employee for an entry-level job or even for supervisory positions. The school one came from should not be a big deal. What is more important to take note of and factor in are the following:
1. If the candidate has a student/youth leadership experience or exposure (for entry-level positions and even for officer/supervisory levels).
What is in it for the employer? What does this tell the recruiter? A candidate possessing this track record means that the he has the potential to be a great leader in the corporate world someday. He already did and proved that in college and most likely, with guidance; development; and support, he can do and prove it again in the real world.
2. If the candidate has an excellent scholastic record.
While it is not always an assurance that a Summa Cum Laude, a Magna Cum Laude, or a Cum Laude graduate will do well or will carry on with his excellence as a professional; it is safe to assume that he will. This is because after all, he would not get there if he was not industrious, determined, persevered, competent, competitive and positive-minded to begin with. Although there are cases of some students just fawning over or pleasing their advisers in order to graduate with honors, it is usually tried and tested that they can continue with the same level of performance and diligence even beyond college.
3. If the candidate’s working experiences match the needs/requirements of the position.
There is no need to explain this further. Of course, you cannot hire a person as an accountant when he graduated with an engineering course. Can you? It is as basic as that.
4. And, a person’s answers.
Although there are some people who are just good at sweet-talking or who simply excel in pleasing people, a candidate’s answers should still not be dismissed. One’s answers and how he answers determine what he is capable of doing or how he thinks. Also, body languages and facial expressions are indicators of how sincere and committed one is to the job and are oftentimes representative of his attitude. So, a recruiter should make sure to listen attentively to how her candidates field questions. Their answers, without a doubt, substantiate whether they are qualified or not.
2. A candidate’s school/community/sub-professional leadership experiences should not be counted as supervisory/managerial experiences.
This mentality is wrong. In the States, people there can already start working as soon as they graduate from high school, which means enrolling in college is optional. They only go to college if they like to, if they want to learn more because they feel under-equipped, if they need to specialize in any field of study, or if they desire to apply for leadership positions but it is not a prerequisite. So, how does this relate to our topic? Here in the country, students must go to college and finish it before they could apply as professionals (probably except in the call center industry or technical/vocational jobs) with most companies. That only means that graduating from college is already impressive. More so, if the candidates did not just graduate from college as regular students but also had a leadership background inside and outside of their schools. Does this make sense?
Furthermore, it is much more impressive when candidates were a student leader back in college especially when we are talking about multiple affiliations. It speaks a lot about how good they are with multitasking, task delegating, and mobilizing people. Ponder on this. Everyone knows how challenging it is to make volunteers and members follow orders or finish tasks especially when they are not really compensated for their efforts. Right? They do not get anything in return, money-wise. They do not even enjoy the benefits (HMO, etc.) that come with a paid professional. Also, multitasking is not easy to do since they already have their organizations to think of plus they have their studies to attend to as well.
Here is the thing. What is wrong nowadays is even if a person’s experience in his line of work is impressive and is highlighted by his milestones, contributions and tenure in the profession and despite having leadership experiences back in college, his application just ends up being scrapped just because he has not been a supervisor/manager since graduating yet.
Ergo, undergraduate leadership experiences in school and in the community should have a bearing on a person’s chance to get even supervisory positions. Recruiters should not hesitate to hire people who have no leadership background since graduating but have proved themselves by exceeding expectations and contributing a lot of great things to the previous companies that they had served and had a quality leadership exposure back in college. There are times that the reasons for not getting promoted to a supervisory level with their previous companies would be not be good like office politics, they were ganged up on, the company did not really have opportunities for moving up at the time when they were with them, or the bosses they had worked for just did not know how to develop people or did not develop them at all.
3. A person who does not have any experience leading people as a professional yet is already out for a leadership position even if they have an impressive resume in terms of contributions and even if they have a potential on paper and during interviews.
This will fall along the same line of justifications as the previous item. But just to add, I find this as an unfair treatment and as an oversight of a lot of aspects. First, there are some people who might have zero background supervising people in the corporate world but have a very extensive and no-nonsense leadership immersion back in college (read through the previous item for a detailed explanation regarding this). Secondly, there are those who, as much as they desired it, wanted to go up the ladder because they fully deserved it but could not or were not able to for one of the following reasons:
- They did not have an okay relationship with their immediate supervisor because they were not seeing eye to eye most of the time, the supervisor is insecure because they are too good or better, the person just does not like them one reason or another, or the person is just too difficult to work with.
- Their supervisor was too busy with a lot of things that employee development was set aside for their entire tenure with the company.
- Their supervisor does not know how to develop people or lacks the assertiveness to recommend them to the higher-ups for a well-deserved promotion.
- The supervisor was favoring somebody else at that time or was more focused on those who fawn over him/her (pleasers).
- There weren’t any leadership vacancies at all and it was taking them forever so they just quit instead.
- Or, they might be deserving but they lack the assertiveness or the aggressiveness to demand for their promotions or to make their pitches to/with the decision-makers.
So, when a recruiter goes over an applicant’s curriculum vitae (particularly for a leadership opening), she might want to consider the following aspects as well:
1. First and foremost would be the individual’s leadership potential which can be confirmed/seen from the factors below:
- Leadership involvements and awards back in college;
- Leadership trainings attended;
- Feedback about or recommendation for the person’s readiness, capacity and qualification to supervise people coming from their previous supervisors and other reliable sources;
- Based on the applicant’s answers, which (again) are very indicative of what they can possibly do;
- Successful projects initiated, led or assigned to.
2. Level of performance with their previous companies
- Standards exceeded;
- Expectations met or over-delivered
- Outstanding performance scores/metrics;
- Processes improved/corrected;
- Contributions that led to increase in revenues and manpower, achievement of local and international certifications, and better workplace relationships
3. And of course, whether the candidate has the attitude of a leader or not.
So, these are the critical mistakes that SOME recruiters in SOME companies nowadays commit. Now, if they do not want to get the wrong people for the company they are hiring people for and end up regretting getting them for the job, then I do not think it will do them any harm to take these into consideration and to reevaluate their people selection standards to think of incorporating these aspects.
Also, just to be fair, we acknowledge the fact that for top-level manager/executive positions, it is not ideal to be hiring someone who does not have a solid track record in managing employees at such high levels. That is a difference case altogether. Nevertheless and without a doubt, the guidelines aforementioned can supplant absence of any supervisory/managerial experiences for as long as the position is just for an officer/supervisor/first-level manager position.