Should companies respond to all job applicants?


Last week there was an interesting report on BBC Radio 4 about how many companies just don’t reply to candidates who apply for jobs with them.



The next day we heard comments from both applicants and companies. Some companies said they just didn’t have the staff to reply when they got so many applications.



What can you do?




From the candidate’s perspective


You have probably been in the situation yourself where you have applied for a job and just never heard anything.



The companies who responded to the report were at pains to point out that they did respond to people who came for interviews and who had telephone interviews. However, I’m personally aware that there are many who don’t even respond in those situations, or take months to do so.



One candidate pointed out that even when he did get a response it was an email from a ‘no reply’ email address that was not monitored. This meant there was no way for applicants to discover what they could do to improve or why they had failed.



This is demoralizing for people who are genuine.




From the company’s perspective

Don't have time to open all the CVs and résumés?

Don’t have time to open all the CVs and résumés?


If you get hundreds of applications it can be hard. One company said they had 300 candidates and didn’t even have time to open them all, so they threw away those with a second-class stamp. They were looking for a graduate in marketing.



Another doctor’s surgery reported 200 applicants, 140 of which did not meet the specifications required. Though they replied to the 60 who did meet the specification they did not have time to respond to those who did not.




Are you really still asking people to send hard copy CVs and résumés?


If so, you need to improve your process. Not only does it slow down the whole process, but it also makes it harder to manage.



There are many simple things you can do to improve the way you carry out recruitment that will not only reduce the time and effort it takes but will also make sure that you end up with better people.



Here are just three possible reasons why these companies are having such a hard time responding:


•    They are asking for hard copy responses

•    They have written an ad that is attracting too many of the wrong candidates

•    They are not using one of the many systems available for dealing with recruitment



How to make applications easier to deal with




Ask for applications via email


This makes responding much easier and cheaper. Yes, I know candidates don’t like getting a standard email from a ‘no reply’ email address, but you don’t need to do that. If you have 140 candidates who don’t meet the specification, you can draft out an email thanking them for their application and politely pointing that they don’t have the qualifications or experience you require as stated in the advertisement.  




Write a focused advertisement


We profile the kind of person required for the role. We then use this profiling information to write our advertisement so it is targeted at people with the profile you are looking for and will put off many of the wrong kinds of candidates.




Use an online system for managing your candidates


There are many online candidate-tracking systems. If you set one of these up you can keep track of all your candidates, and send out emails to them as you progress them or reject them. These systems are pretty cheap (a few 100 dollars or pounds) and save you huge amounts of time.




Another easy way to reduce time and get back to your candidates


We send every candidate a few tasks to do. These are always related to the role itself and as close as possible to what the candidate would be doing in the job. To find out more about this, contact us.



We make it clear to the candidates that if they don’t like the tasks, they won’t like the job and we will quite understand if they don’t want to take things any further.



This is a great way of sorting out the serious candidates from those who apply for anything and everything, regardless of what it is and whether they meet the specifications. If you are the company, it saves you lots of time. If you are a candidate, it gives you a chance to show us what you can do (even if you are not great at putting together a résumé or CV.)



We often find that less than 20% of applicants do the tasks and send them back. The tasks are designed to be very easy to score. This makes sorting the candidates much easier, and it means that you have responded to all the candidates. If you set things up correctly this can be done quite efficiently.




You find out more about the candidates


Our clients like it because it gives them a much better idea of what a candidate can do and it saves them lots of time.



When candidates fail the tasks, we always offer them the chance to get some feedback. Surprisingly only a small percentage of candidates ask for feedback.



Because we have the results of their tasks, it’s really easy to do. We know what the standards were for the task so we can respond in just a few minutes, letting them know what they needed to do to be taken further in the process. I have had many grateful emails from candidates as a result of doing this.



Some candidates even tell us that most companies just don’t get back to them and are grateful for the feedback, even though they didn’t get the job.



Contact us if you would like to talk to me about how to do this and how we can help you.



It will save you a great deal of time and get you better people as well.

A chance to test my Emotional Intelligence


You may recall that my lovely old Beetle car died about a year ago.


In December I ordered my new Beetle, exactly to my specifications. It finally arrived on 6th May. (As an aside, it’s very sad to note that VW haven’t made any improvements in their manufacturing process and thus their lead times since the last time over 10 years ago, which also took this long.)




I drove it a few hundred miles and it was still pristine. I dropped my car off with DriveFly a parking valet service at Heathrow on Tuesday 13th May, exactly one week after taking delivery of it. The representative who picked it up was at pains to point out to me a tiny stone chip on the bonnet so they would not be blamed for causing this.




I arrived back at Heathrow on Sunday and called to DriveFly as instructed to let them know I had arrived. 10 minutes later I received a call from them to advise me of an ‘incident’ that had occurred in their car park, resulting in a ‘dent’ in the door of my car.




I was rather concerned. I saw my lovely car approaching and then, as the driver, Ginnen

The dent on my less than 2 week old car

The dent on my less than 2 week old car

drove past to park, I saw a massive dent in the passenger door accompanied with damage to the paint. He did apologize profusely and said he realized the car was new and the mileage was very low. He assured me it would get it fixed.




He said they would call me and asked when would be convenient. We agreed that the manager would call me at 8am the following morning and suggested I take some photos of the damage and forward them to the email address.




However, it turned out to be quite difficult to do this in the car park and the photos weren’t very clear. So my husband took a few more for me when I got home. You can see some of them. The damage is worse than it looks on the photos, but they will give you the idea. There is more than one dent, the wheel arch is also damaged, the paint is damaged and the door doesn’t close properly at the bottom or at the top.




No doubt this was an accident but I’m sure you can imagine my horror when faced with the damage to my new car.




A chance to use my Emotional Intelligence skills


There was no phone call at 8am. I called the main office at 9.30 as suggested by Ginnen should there be no call. It went straight to answer phone.




I then called the original number and got another number. It was a service centre and was completely unable to help me.




By this time I could feel my blood pressure rising and I was trying hard to remember that the poor unfortunate Indian lady on the other end of the phone was completely blameless in this situation.




The objective


It’s always a good idea to remember the objective when you are in this kind of situation.
My objective is to:


Get my car back to its original state.
(You’re probably thinking: ‘There’s not a time on that objective – how can she tell us how to write objectives and get something so basic so wrong?’ The reason for that is that I need to talk to them to find out what their process is and if I put my preferred deadline on this it would be ‘tomorrow’ serve to increase my anxiety further.)




The emotion


So in this situation it’s best to think what emotion the other person needs to be in so that they will do what you want, quickly and efficiently.




Attacked and defensive are probably not the right ones. Resentful is probably even worse.


Sorrowful might help.
Willing might be good.
Helpful would probably be a good bet.




So how do I go about getting them into that mood? Not by being angry and attacking them.




What happened?

In the end I phoned the number on the main Heathrow parking website, as I had heard

Another view of my poor car

Another view of my poor car

nothing from them and could not get hold of them in spite of now three emails and several phone calls. I immediately got through to Katie, who apologized straight away, and instantly understood how upsetting the situation was. She sounded really concerned and said she’d get in touch with them and get them to call.



An apology goes a long way


Guess what? I felt so much better after speaking to her. So when Rishi called ten minutes later, I was able to remain reasonably calm, in spite of the fact that he didn’t apologize during the call.


He even told me how he would have been able to have it all repaired in a day if I lived near Heathrow (as though it was my fault for living too far away!). I resisted the temptation of explaining that if I lived near Heathrow I probably wouldn’t have taken my car. (Sarcasm isn’t good in these situations and this response was much more emotionally intelligent.) I kept my eye firmly on the objective.


He said he was going to call some garages and get some quotes and that they would probably call me tomorrow. I remain to be convinced about that. He still seemed to think that it would be done in one day and very soon. Though if they can get hold of new door, I imagine it’s a pretty quick job swapping it over. Finding the door might be more of a problem.


He seemed to think I might not even need another car while the work was being done. (He made this assumption without checking what I needed in any way.) I still kept my cool.


I got an email confirming this and reminding myself punctuation and spelling have no bearing at all on the skills required to get this problem resolved. After all, I’ve been guilty of typos and mistakes, but I’m a nice person.


So I’ll see what happens tomorrow. If you want to know, I’ll be doing an update next week. I’m just hoping my Emotional Intelligence skills won’t be tested too far.



If you are supplying a service



One useful thing to remember if you are on the other side of the fence
If you really want to annoy your customers and make them angry, don’t call when you say you will. Make your office number go straight to answer phone. Provide the number of a customer service call center that is powerless to help your customers. All of these strategies are virtually guaranteed to turn a simple complaint into a major issue.




If the manager had taken the trouble to call me back that day, apologize and let me know what he or she was going to do about it, I’d have been very happy.

Should teenagers be allowed to sleep in?


Sleeping in

 This week I heard an interesting debate on the radio between Guy Holloway, head teacher at Hampton Court House and Anna May Mangan.


He is planning to let his students start at 1.30 in the afternoon, using research on sleep and learning to improve things for his students. She’s completely against it because it means they will be staying in bed all morning.


I personally have always hated getting up early, but would I be right to let my daughter sleep in?  (Thank goodness she doesn’t read these blogs….)



Teenagers, sleep and learning

 Probably about 15 years ago at several different neuroscience conferences I heard evidence presented that teenagers would do far better at school if they didn’t have to get up early.


This is because their circadian rhythm is different to that of adults (and everyone else it would seem). Making teenagers get up to start school at 8.30 or 9am is actually detrimental to their learning.


So I was very pleased to hear Guy Holloway (GuyHolloway_HCH), head teacher at Hampton Court House, speaking on BBC Radio announce that he was going to change the hours for his sixth form students.


At last, someone who is prepared to be guided by the research and help people to learn more easily as a result.


One hour makes a difference

The research I heard about found that even letting these students start school an hour later had a significant impact on their learning. Guy Holloway is starting school for them at 1.30.


However, as always the BBC likes to have someone with an opposing view, so they broadcast this interesting news as a discussion between Guy and Anna May Mangen, self-confessed ‘pushy mother’ (author of ‘Getting into Medical School – The Pushy Mother’s Guide’ and a seriously understated title if her radio appearance is anything to go by).


“The students must be dullards”

She said the students at Hampton Court “must be dullards” because they are not doing any of the additional things that students would typically do if they were allowed to sleep away the morning and learn into the evening.


I was fascinated but not surprised to note how she did not seem in the least interested in the research, but instead seemed to assume that the working these hours would automatically not be taking part in any other extra curricular activities.


She thought that these students were being robbed of an opportunity to do well by letting them stay in bed.


This was not what Guy Holloway was saying at all. He just believes in teenagers getting 9 hours sleep.


Anna May Mangen seemed to be unaware that even if you have 9 hours in bed that still leaves you with 15 other hours in the day (or night). Perhaps arithmetic isn’t her strong point. Or it may be she has a very fixed idea of how you can use the hours of the day and exactly what you can do when.


She told us that son had served breakfast in a hospice and these students would not be able to do that. And that is true. However, she seemed oblivious to the possibility of other duties in the evenings that they would be perfectly well able to perform.


Sleep and learning research

Sleep is vital for learning

Sleep is vital for learning

Sleep and learning are very closely related. If you don’t get enough sleep your ability to learn drops, because learning, sleep and memory are so closely linked.


I once saw Allan Hobson (researcher and author of ‘Sleep’) lecturing about sleep and learning. He had carried out research where he paid students to play Tetris for 8 hours a day. Some were allowed a full night’s sleep; others were not. The next day those who had got the full night’s sleep had improved their level of skill to above that of the previous day. Those who had not had a good night’s sleep had a reduced level of skill compared to that of the previous day.


Yes, you are actually improving your skills while you are asleep.


To his horror, when Allan Hobson tried his own regimen on himself he found no improvement the next morning. It transpires that as you get older, you need several nights of good sleep to achieve the same results. It took him three days (I think he was in his 30s at that time).


Driving and sleep

Given that you are statistically much more likely to have an accident if you drive between midnight and 5am, when you are really meant to be asleep, it’s hardly surprising that learning when you are supposed to be asleep might also be impaired.


Sleep is very important for learning and memory

If you want to improve your learning and memory, first check if you are getting enough sleep. It makes a huge difference.


Here is a link to some of the research as mentioned by Guy Holloway on Radio 4.

Dr Paul Kelly (researcher)

Doing your objectives the easy way


I was working with a client recently who had made huge efforts to get his objectives right. He’d clearly spent hours working on them. I’ve seen this many times before.




Clients often send me through a massive document full of tables packed with objectives to the deepest level of detail imaginable.




As I go through I find masses of duplication, huge lists of tasks and all kinds of plans, all showing how much work has gone into the exercise so far.




But there is an easier way.




Use a mind map



If you haven’t come across mind maps before, here’s a picture of one.


Work out your objectives using a mind map

Work out your objectives using a mind map



It really is a much easier way to get your objectives right.




All you need to do is start dropping objectives into the relevant areas by adding new branches.




Why it’s so much easier to do your objectives with a mind map


•    You can see how all your objectives are connected.

•    It’s easy to see where you have duplication

•    You get an over-view of what you need to achieve

•    You can see how all the lower level objectives support the higher level ones

•    You can easily move objectives round and re-categorize them




This turns what can be a grindingly boring and mind-numbing task into something that most people find motivating (and even fun).




A very successful client



One of our most successful clients had a huge mind map on the wall opposite his desk. Right in the centre, on a level with his nose, was the company goal. Branching off it, in thick black pen, were the objectives that went up to make that goal happen.




He was very focused. How could he be anything else? He knew what needed to be done and what the priorities were.




And he achieved the all.




There is plenty of software out there to use, including Tony Buzan’s (the originator of Mind Maps). Some of the software is even free. Just have a go and see how much easier it is.




Good luck!