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Recruiting: My Life as a False Negative

Updated: Feb 17, 2023



The Recruitment System is Broken and has Bias Baked In

There has to be something broken in the recruitment process. I hit my 100th application of 2023 this week, and I am well over 1000 since I returned to school and graduated in April 2021. I have no idea why I have been unable to get a permanent full-time job since I was laid off in September 2016. After 19 years in telecom as a technician, the company I loved working for was sold again and was in another layoff situation. After what seemed to be yearly layoffs since the 2008 crash, the gap was closing in on me with 19 years of seniority in a union. Although I didn't want to leave, I felt like I had no choice, so I took a package.


I never thought finding another job was going to be this hard. That's why for the first year, I decided to do something different and fun. So I took a lifelong hobby and opened an online custom costume shop on Etsy. After a year or so, I decided that something I used to love was not so much fun anymore, so I decided to look for a job in tech in which I had had a 25-year career. I quickly learned, or at least I thought this was the issue, that I would have to do some upgrading if I was going to make the same living I had grown a custom to. Otherwise, I would be making minimum wage doing the same thing I did for the other company.


Through the help of a career coach and a lot of reflection, I decided I needed to go back to school and take Business Administration, and I decided on HR because of my union experience, my love of training and developing people, and even people managers should have some experience in HR. After graduating, I hit the internet pavement again and started looking for my next opportunity. I graduated in April 2021, and I have managed to work in two temp positions for 3-4 months each.


Why can't I get a job?

There could be many reasons why I am having trouble getting hired, and it's important to identify any potential barriers to getting hired and work on addressing them. Here are some common reasons why people struggle to secure employment:

  1. Lack of experience: If you are just starting out in your career or if you are looking for a job in a new field, a lack of experience can be a barrier to getting hired.

  2. Competition: In a tight job market, there may be many highly qualified candidates applying for the same role, making it more difficult to secure employment.

  3. Poor resume or cover letter: If your resume and cover letter are not well-written, they may not effectively showcase your skills and experience to potential employers.

  4. Lack of networking: Networking is a key aspect of job search and many people overlook the importance of building relationships with people in their desired industry.

  5. Unclear career goals: If you don't have a clear understanding of your career goals and the type of role you are seeking, it can be difficult to target your job search effectively.

  6. Inadequate interview skills: If you struggle with interviews or if you don't effectively showcase your skills and qualifications, it can make it harder to get hired.

I have lots of experience and transferable skills, and even when I was at school, I did more than most students to prove I could apply what I was learning, and my goals are pretty clear. I have worked on mitigating every item on this list. I have worked with coaches for my resume and cover letter, and I actually tailor each resume and cover letter to each position. I have also worked on my interview skills and networking with coaches, but I can't control the competition, my age, my gender, and my ethnicity. All those things are not supposed to be an issue if they hire the best person for the position. So why am I falling into a black hole and becoming a false negative?


False Negatives In Recruiting

False negatives in recruiting are a common challenge that companies face, and they can have serious consequences for both the organization and the candidates who are being screened out. False negatives in the recruitment process refer to instances where qualified and suitable candidates are not selected for a job even though they possess the necessary skills, experience, and qualifications for the role. This can result in missed opportunities to bring in talented and productive employees, and it can also cause frustration and disappointment for the affected candidates. This can happen due to various reasons, such as:

  1. Biased hiring practices: Unconscious biases can lead recruiters to overlook qualified candidates who don't fit their preconceived notions of what a "perfect candidate" looks like. Must have a BA and 5 years of experience

  2. Insufficient evaluation of skills: Recruiters may overlook certain skills if they don't match the requirements listed in the job description, even though they could be valuable to the company. It must be the same job title.

  3. Lack of diversity in the hiring process: A homogeneous team or a lack of diversity in the recruitment process can lead to false negatives, as recruiters may overlook candidates who have different backgrounds or perspectives. Looking for "fit" the likability factor

  4. Overreliance on resumes and cover letters: Relying too heavily on resumes and cover letters can lead to false negatives, as these documents may not accurately reflect a candidate's skills and abilities. Resumes show what you have done compared to what you can do.

To avoid false negatives, companies can adopt a more diverse and inclusive recruitment process, conduct thorough evaluations of candidates' skills, and consider factors beyond resumes and cover letters. Additionally, companies can regularly review and assess their hiring practices to identify and eliminate biases and discrimination. To mitigate the risk of false negatives in recruiting, companies can take several steps:

  1. Choose appropriate assessments: It is important to choose assessments that are directly related to the skills and qualifications required for the role. This will help to ensure that the assessments are accurate and relevant and that they are not unduly excluding qualified candidates.

  2. Use multiple assessment methods: By using a combination of assessment methods, such as skills tests, work samples, and behavioural interviews, companies can get a more well-rounded view of a candidate's skills and abilities and reduce the risk of false negatives.

  3. Consider cultural bias: Assessments that are not culturally unbiased can result in false negatives for candidates from underrepresented groups. Companies can reduce this risk by using assessments that have been validated for cultural bias and by taking steps to promote diversity and inclusiveness in the recruitment process.

  4. Regularly review and update assessments: Assessments should be regularly reviewed and updated to ensure that they remain relevant and accurate and that they are not unduly exclude qualified candidates.

  5. Provide feedback to candidates: By providing feedback to candidates throughout the recruitment process, companies can help them to understand how they can improve and demonstrate their skills more effectively. This can also help to reduce frustration and disappointment for candidates who are rejected, and it can help to foster a positive image for the company.

Hire for Skills

Here are some steps you can take to create a unique recruitment process based on skills:

  1. Define the skills required for the role: Start by creating a clear and comprehensive job description that outlines the specific skills and qualifications required for the role.

  2. Assess your current recruitment process: Analyze your current process to identify areas where it could be improved or modified to assess candidates' skills better.

  3. Use various assessment methods: Consider using a combination of assessment methods, such as skills tests, work samples, and behavioural interviews, to get a well-rounded view of a candidate's skills and abilities.

  4. Make use of technology: Utilize technology, such as applicant tracking systems, to streamline the recruitment process and make it easier to assess candidates' skills.

  5. Collaborate with department heads: Work closely with department heads and other relevant stakeholders to ensure that the recruitment process aligns with the skills and qualifications required for the role.

  6. Provide regular feedback: Provide regular feedback to candidates throughout the recruitment process to help them understand how they can improve and demonstrate their skills more effectively.

By taking these steps, companies can create a unique recruitment process that is focused on skills and helps identify the best candidates for the role. They can also reduce the risk of false negatives and ensure that they attract and hire the best candidates for their organization. A well-designed and effective recruitment process can help companies to build a strong and productive sustainable workforce and to stay ahead in today's competitive job market.




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