Who Wants The Job?

Over this last month, my wife and I searched for and hired a new nanny, as ours had de­cided to learn pro­gram­ming and move to The Bay.

We ended up with a won­der­ful woman we found through a per­sonal recom­men­da­tion on a lo­cal mailing list. Her pre­vi­ous em­ployer posted say­ing, hire this woman, she’s fan­tas­tic, and this was in­deed the case.

Be­fore we re­al­ized we’d found her, var­i­ous peo­ple en­couraged us to post a job list­ing on a web­site, so we did so on Sit­ter­city.

That went… less well.

We got over one hun­dred ap­pli­ca­tions.

The ma­jor­ity of them had pro­files that did not match the re­quire­ments of the job. About half were only available for a few months or for part time work. Many oth­ers wouldn’t work with mul­ti­ple chil­dren, or had higher salary re­quire­ments than we listed.

The vast ma­jor­ity of them had ma­jor spel­ling and/​or gram­mar er­rors in their pro­files. Also in their mes­sages to us.

From the re­main­ing pro­files, we reached out to a few dozen ap­pli­cants.

The ma­jor­ity of them did not re­spond to us at all.

Of those who did re­spond, sev­eral did not an­swer the phone for the ini­tial in­ter­view and pro­vided no ex­pla­na­tion.

Of those who did an­swer, sev­eral were ac­tively rude on the phone.

Of those who were not rude on the phone, sev­eral did not en­gage with the ques­tions be­ing asked or show any in­ter­est in the job,

Of those who passed that screen­ing and were asked to come for an in per­son in­ter­view, fully half of them failed to show up, most with no warn­ing or can­cel­la­tion. In all such cases, they didn’t con­tact us again. In other cases, they can­cel­led, but failed to make any real effort to resched­ule.

As a re­sult of all this, we only ended up do­ing two in per­son in­ter­views. Be­cause it turns out that get­ting peo­ple to show up, at all, is su­per hard. One of them seemed ac­cept­able in a punch. The other we hired.

The vast ma­jor­ity of peo­ple who were on a job site, seek­ing a job, were not ca­pa­ble of tasks like: Write a pro­file page in English with­out ma­jor mis­takes. Re­spond promptly when an em­ployer con­tacts you to re­spond to your ap­pli­ca­tion. Talk po­litely on the phone and sound like you are listen­ing and care about the job. Show up to your in­ter­view.

Yes. Stan­dards are that low.

You are much more em­ploy­able than you think.

If you’re won­der­ing why em­ploy­ers say it’s so hard to hire peo­ple de­spite get­ting a hun­dred ap­pli­ca­tions for ev­ery po­si­tion? That’s why.

If you’re won­der­ing why many peo­ple can’t find work? I can’t help but won­der if it’s be­cause they can’t do the very ba­sic things even at high lev­er­age points like the in­ter­view pro­cess. Things like show­ing up and re­spond­ing to emails. Be­ing on time. Be­ing po­lite. Mak­ing sure the pro­file you show the world doesn’t have ma­jor er­rors and matches the jobs you’re ap­ply­ing to. Act­ing like you ac­tu­ally want the job.

Those are stan­dards that 98% or so of ap­pli­ca­tions we got failed to live up to. Pre­sum­ably the same peo­ple, failing to live up to them, ap­ply again and again, failing those stan­dards again and again, won­der­ing why they can’t get hired.