He doesn’t think it’s too much to ask of a job seeker. A resume, a statement of salary expectations and a single written paragraph that answers a question like, “What do you believe a good customer service representative’s attitude should be?”They may be semi-literate and have no idea how to function in the workplace, but I bet they can tell you America is racist, man-made global warming is real and that 1% owns 99% of the wealth.
But out of the more than 100 respondents who answered the ad placed by Robert Basso’s firm for someone with a college degree and one to three years of general business experience, not a single one wrote the paragraph, and fewer than 10 included salary expectations.
“It’s shocking,” says Basso, the president of Advantage Payroll Services, based in Freeport, LI. “You’d expect that people who are looking for work in a highly competitive job market like this one would make more of an effort.”
Basso isn’t the only one who’s alarmed. At a time when the unemployment rate is above 9 percent, hiring managers say they’re tearing their hair out over entry-level job candidates who fail to follow simple instructions and observe basic job-seeking protocol.
Stories are legion of inept or half-hearted applicants who submit resumes marred by misspellings, show up at interviews dressed for a beach party, make inappropriate jokes, fail to learn basic details about the job and company in question, and otherwise leave hiring managers aghast.
“I have to say, I’m afraid for the state of the nation,” says David Heinemeier Hansson, a partner at the software firm 37signals and co-author of the best-selling business book “Rework.”
“The effort just isn’t there,” agrees his co-founder (and co-author) Jason Fried. He estimates that 60 percent to 70 percent of those who apply to work at his company don’t take the time to read the application instructions before pushing “send,” so they end up submitting incomplete applications or the wrong stuff.
And the material that does arrive is too often not worth the effort it takes to read it, the pair say. It’s a complaint that’s widely echoed by employers tired of cover letters and resumes that show an inability or unwillingness to write a competent sentence, and communiques (“here u r. resume attached. We can talk $ l8r”) that read like they were texted from junior-high recess.
“Who the hell is going to hire these people?” asks Heinemeier Hansson. “Who is going to read some of these atrociously bad applications and say, ‘Yeah, that’s the person I’ve been looking for?’ ”
They're oozing with self-esteem but lack the most basic skills to make it in the workplace.
And it's your fault or something. Not only are their job skills poor, their social skills are an abomination.
Another common complaint is how casual and presumptive some candidates can be. Dan Black, campus recruiting leader at Ernst & Young, had an interviewee point to a picture on his desk and say, “Is that your wife? She’s hot!”
When Schnitzerling asked the one question every job seeker should expect to answer -- “Why should I hire you? -- she got an answer she never expected to hear: “Because I’m good at kissing ass.”
Equally impressive was the reply Nielsen got when she asked an applicant how she liked to spend her spare time: “Getting drunk.”
Basso was almost speechless when an interviewee showed up wearing cargo pants, in an office where the dress code for men is a suit. The applicant explained that he had plans to hang out with some friends afterward and didn’t want to go home to change.
“He might have been OK otherwise,” Basso said.