Big business job hunts require special skills

Businesses spend a lot of cash to hire new employees. They pay for recruiting services, staffing agencies and advertisements. They compensate human resources associates to attract and select qualified candidates. They shell out money for orientation, coaching and training.

The super-high price tag weighs heavily on hiring managers, who are often pressured by their bosses and ever-tightening budgets to make flawless staffing choices. Poor selections (slow workers, unfitting managers or fast quitters) can double or triple their costs. In order to make the company’s investment worthwhile, they must choose top candidates who will boost profitability and stay with the organization for a long time.

Human resources professionals are, well, human. They make mistakes. They seek out loyal individuals who seem interested in extended employment, and try to match personalities with the vision of the company. Sometimes they make good decisions. Sometimes they don’t.

Of course, businesses always want to decrease financial risk. Lots of companies have found a way to do this by minimizing the human factor early in the hiring process. Instead of reviewing every application that comes in, they use mathematical formulas instead. That’s right. Algorithms.

Here’s a scenario that may sound familiar to many job hunters: A sales professional decides to pick up a job during the peak Christmas season. She expects to secure a job quickly because she has experience, enthusiasm and a wide open schedule. She fills out dozens of computerized applications at big-name stores. Weeks pass, and she receives no response. None.

Generally speaking, there are numerous reasons why an employer might not contact a particular candidate. However, in our example it is peak season and the applicant has hands-on experience, flexibility and a great attitude on her side. Plus, she targeted plenty of businesses, so the odds seemed in her favor. Right? Not necessarily. If she answered certain questions incorrectly on the computerized forms, her applications would have been deleted before ever reaching a human being.

These days, many large organizations use algorithms — not people — to weed out imperfect job applicants. Their applications request information about education, experience and personal attributes. Some undisclosed questions must be answered in a predetermined way in order for the candidate to make it to the next level.

This hiring strategy typifies the old expression, “It’s not personal, it’s just business.” It cuts costs and streamlines processes for companies that need to hire hundreds or thousands of people with similar qualifications and skills. But it frustrates many job hunters, especially those who are loyal customers and possess a genuine passion for a specific industry, company or brand.

Here is some advice for job searching with big-name companies:

First, if you dream of working for a particular business, do your research and apply for a job. Be persistent, and don’t let their screening processes scare you.

Second, if you need steady income to pay the bills, apply with large organizations, but don’t cling to a single company or industry. If you don’t receive a response within a few days, turn your attention elsewhere. Try some small or mid-sized businesses, where human beings still run the show. Make a great impression, and they’ll recognize your talents right away.

Contact Eve Nicholas at Eve at

Contact Eve Nicholas at Eve at

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