Want Feedback From Employers? Go Jump Off A Cliff, Says SHRM

August 7th, 2017

I saw this article posted by a friend on Facebook, who I won’t name because I don’t want said friend to catch any heat from SHRM because of my response to this article. It’s titled Rejecting Candidates: What should an employer tell a candidate who is not selected for the position?

The bottom line is that the author, and really SHRM (because it’s published on a SHRM site), endorse the idea of not giving real (or any) feedback to candidates who aren’t hired.

Reading the article, there are several points that I agree with (like, the communication an employer has with a candidate can impact that candidate as far as future applications, or being a customer (TRUE!), and there are a few points that are really disappointing (like, giving feedback just opens you up for litigation and arguing and career counseling, so it’s better to not give any feedback (I’m sure that’s all true, but where’s the heart, man??).

The point of my post this morning is to share what HR professionals are being taught/fed, and how they think about job seekers and the process. It’s important to understand how they think, so that you can adjust your communication and expectations accordingly.  So, go read this short article… hopefully it helps you as you move forward towards your next gig.  And heaven forbid the people who perpetuate this advice get caught up in all the negative downside of it when they are in a job search.

2 Comments »

2 responses to “Want Feedback From Employers? Go Jump Off A Cliff, Says SHRM”

  1. Darlene says:

    I am not currently a member of SHRM so I couldn’t read the article but I have been in the business of HR for many years and I am very familiar with this dichotomy.

    On the side of the candidate who is seeking employment but the cannot seem to get past the screening or the second interview to get an offer…it can be very frustrating to be in mystery about why the door is not opening to them. In their minds, they are a great candidate and they have something wonderful to offer the next lucky employer that says YES!

    Unfortunately, when the door doesn’t open and you are continually knocking, something is awry. For each candidate it can be something completely different. So, a Hiring Manager or HR professional who has the guts to give constructive feedback may actually help a struggling candidate. The problem is that in the world we live in today people are easily offended and as a result, giving feedback can be a dangerous proposition for any person willing to take the risk and speak truth to a candidate. So for those who are in need of honest feedback, don’t ask for it unless you are ready to hear it and don’t be offended if you don’t agree with what someone is telling you. Consider the feedback, assess the feedback and either make a change based on the feedback or discard it and keep it moving…off to the next interview.

    Note: if you hear the same feedback from two difference sources – you might want to consider making an adjustment.

    The truth of the matter is most people with any kind of self awareness know themselves well enough to know their shortcomings. And ultimately it is up to the candidate to make the course corrections they KNOW they need to make so that they can not only get the job but they can get the job and make a significant contribution to the new organization.

    Second, to the HR professionals and hiring managers who are fearful to speak truth in a professional manner…you can give feedback to candidates. Sometimes it really does help. I recently left an organization that I spent 90% of my time hiring new employees for them. I enjoyed the time I had screening, interviewing, offering and onboarding new employees. I didn’t give feedback to every person who asked because I had enough sense to know the ones I could give feedback to and the ones I couldn’t.

    When I gave feedback I was able to speak to what I was looking for in the “right” candidate and I could show them where they were deficient. They could see it. So my feedback was in alignment with what they were missing and what I needed. I also gave ideas on how they could solve the deficiency and reapply at a future date. Every candidate I had the privilege to give feedback thanked me and they moved on. It is possible for a hiring manager to assist someone without putting the organization or themselves in jeopardy.

    One caution – if you know you can’t give appropriate feedback, then error on the side of saying nothing, Thank them for coming in and move on to the next candidate!

  2. Jason Alba says:

    Thanks for adding to the conversation Darlene. I love what you are saying, and am glad that someone in your role is voicing an opinion, AND has a heart and helps people. I understand that not everyone can handle the feedback, and that it’s not always appropriate… what got my goat is that the article is giving blanket-level permission to always say nothing.

    One specific thing, from your comment, is that you say: “The truth of the matter is most people with any kind of self awareness know themselves well enough to know their shortcomings.” I agree with that, however, the problem is that job seekers tend to beat themselves up over everything… even things that are not relevant. It’s a time of hyper-criticicm from job seekers, of themselves, and when mixed with depression and all the other emotions that a job seeker goes through, “know their shortcomings” can be a clouded, even hopeless, issue.

    Further, many people just don’t know this new job search “game,” with the weird rules and nuances… throw in cultural differences and now we have a hole mess of confusion. And what worked swell at one company might not have worked at another company… ah, it’s just so confusing!

    Anyway, like I said, I appreciate your insight and perspective. I just wish that there wasn’t such a big wall between job seekers and anyone who could give them real, useful information on how to move forward (get better, etc.) in their job search, even if they were passed over by the company where they interviewed.

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