Job seeker´s letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

This year I would like to approach you with a wish list you may find unconventional. I am unemployed, and have been actively applying for jobs throughout the past year. In doing so, I have repeatedly come across certain practices – some of them so common I would almost like to call them norms – that feel like unnecessary burdens on applying for a job. And the more I discuss this with my friends who are in the same situation as I am, the more we get the feeling that with many of these practices, the employers perhaps have not realized the implications.

So, dear Santa, in order to be able to land my Dream Job next year, and to help all my fellow job seekers as well, would you be so kind as to send a few of your energetic elves to whisper these things to the employers’ ears?

Firstly, the requirements listed for the vacancy. In many cases, the nature of the responsibilities described appears such that there is not just one candidate profile to excel in that role. Yet I often see a very narrow, limiting description for candidate requirements in job ads. Could you please ask the employers to consider alternative backgrounds for suitable candidates, not just look for a warm body to fill the ‘same old, same old’ mold? The same applies to competences. Openness to consider and effort to evaluate the candidate’s real competences and skills would most certainly benefit the employer more than considering formal qualification only.

The second item on my wish list reads ‘employer image’. As humble fan of yours, dear Santa, I occasionally get the feeling that the employers only remember the latter in the give-and-take. And the giving really should come first. In recruitment, that should translate to viewing – and treating – the job applicants as customers. Providing me with an opportunity to evaluate not just whether I would match the needs of that employer – but also whether the employer would match mine. Images of the work environment, video interviews with current employees, company values opened up and discussed… it speaks volumes of the employer if those are available – and it speaks equally loud if they are not. Personally, I would also consider stating the salary range in the job advertisement as an element of employer image. In any case, it is a remarkably thoughtful gesture towards job seekers – helps both sides to prevent wasting each other’s time.

A couple of things with regards to application process are the third item on my list. With all the time and effort I have invested into shaping and re-shaping my CV, it is really discouraging to come across an application tool where I have to copy-paste the contents of my CV, row by row, to a frozen template. I have actually now started to skip such employers altogether. I also tend to contact the employer for some clarifications prior to submitting my application – yet interestingly not all job ads provide instructions for doing so. Some employers are fortunately showing that it is in their values to be approachable. One trend I very much welcome here is to have vacancies for expert positions posted in LinkedIn, with the option to apply utilizing one’s personal LinkedIn profile. That is so easy!

I know, dear Santa, that you are real busy this time of the year. Let me throw in just three more wishes, okay? Oh, too many? Okay – two then. Deal? Thank you! This relates to seeing applicants as customers. Keeping all the applicants informed during the selection process would be really, really kind. I know cases where even the completion of recruitment has only been informed to the selected candidate. And I have heard rumors of a case where even that was not done! Keeping the candidates informed should also include giving feedback to anyone the employer has interviewed but did not select at that time. By helping candidates to improve, the employers themselves will get more competent applications next time.

The very last wish is about travel costs. When a candidate comes from out of town for an interview, it would be considerate for the employer to compensate for travel expenses.

Thank you for your time, dear Santa. And welcome down south! A word of warning – it looks like the only thing white around here again this Christmas will be the rice porridge.