Companies Bombarded With Inept Young Applicants

Considering that our country spends more per student than almost every other country in the world, and more people are attending college than ever before, this doesn’t say much about our education system

(NY Post) 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?”

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.

Back during the days when one of my duties was interviewing (the company took that away from us and moved it to HR, freeing managers time up to manage our people, as well as for a few other reason, such as asking the wrong questions which could set the company up for lawsuits), I’d deal with lots of people who would come inappropriately dressed and would be unable to answer the questions asked. I’ve seen resumes where the Objective line read “to have a good time in life.” I’m not making that up. During a round robin interview, we had a candidate answer their phone and then ask which door the pizza delivery guy should come to. I had another bring her baby to the interview. Also, she was wearing dirty jeans, a dirty jacket, carrying a filthy backpack, and was unable to work the hours the job ad stated. And, no, I would not interview them. To one out of 6-7 I’d use the phrase “did you not know that this is a professional position and requires a professional appearance? Yet you came dressed like that.” Followed by “thank you for coming, we won’t continue.”

Hiring managers commonly attribute this lack of initiative and/or competence to a millennial generation who grew up with helicopter parents overseeing their every move. All the hovering has left today’s post-collegiates unable to fend for themselves, they say — which is especially troublesome to employers given that today’s lean workplaces don’t have the resources to pick up where their parents left off.

“These people who grew up with mommy and daddy doing everything for them now have to learn to think and to direct themselves,” says Schnitzerling.

I’d also say we have to place the blame on an educational system that fails to prepare these young folks to get a job while they spend time teaching socialization, social programs, social learning, feel good crap, diversity, etc and so on. They aren’t prepared for the adult world (witness the Occupy movement).

Anyhow, you’ve got read the whole story, especially page 3, which provides some interesting stories, as well as some hints to people looking to get a job.

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4 Responses to “Companies Bombarded With Inept Young Applicants”

  1. gitarcarver says:

    I experienced the same thing.

    Poorly dressed people, or inappropriately dressed people were common.

    There were all types of people. There were the people who thought they deserved a job because, well, they deserved a job. There were people who didn’t meet standards and didn’t care.

    But the really good times were the ones that were trying to make it and just needed a break. We had a lot of locations in inner city neighborhoods and it was wonderful finding that “diamond” in the rough. The kid who wanted to make money to go to college, or the parent who wanted a better life for their kids.

    Today it seems HR people ask ridiculous questions like “if you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?” that have no correlation to the skill set companies are looking for.

    At the same time, how many companies do we all deal with on a daily basis where the associate is locked into a box or set of rules? Companies don’t want people to think anymore.

    I recently pointed out to a store manager that for the 5th time in four visits, an item had rung up differently than the price on the shelf.

    I was told it was my fault for noticing.

    Applicants and customer service have gone to pot in this country.

  2. I loved when I’d get someone who really wanted the job and was willing to work to get the job.

    Lots of companies have gone to what are called STAR questions (situation/task, action taken, results), looking to elicit answers that say what the candidate actually did in that situation, rather than what they might generally do possibly maybe perhaps in that situation. You’d have to ask the exact same question pattern to every candidate, but, you could go to backups if they couldn’t answer. You had to stay with the script, and could not deviate except where they gave that opening. Because some people came to interviews in order to sue if the questions deviated.

    Of course, letting people out of that box can be dangerous. Back at AT&T, they opened it up with their guidelines (was Cingular at the time), and things got so muddled that they went to “protocols”, which were pretty hard and clear. Then back to muddled. Clear cut. Muddled. Sometimes, we had no real idea what to do, and, you were almost always wrong. Sigh.

  3. gitarcarver says:

    Sometimes, we had no real idea what to do, and, you were almost always wrong. Sigh.

    One of the best places I ever worked for had a rule that was “never say no to a customer.” It made life easy. It didn’t mean that associates or even managers COULD say yes in all circumstances, but the customer would always hear “I can’t say yes to what you want, but let me call my supervisor and talk to him.”

    The benefit was the customer felt you were on their side. Even though you were saying “I can’t help you,” the customer felt you were helping them.

    Now, the standard answer is “I’m sorry.” The idea is to feign empathy with the customer, but there is no identification with the customer at all.

    You may not believe me, but I think the beginning of the fall of “customer service” was the moment companies went to computers and cash registers that told the associate what the change was. No longer was the associate engaged with the customer. They were just part of the process.

  4. AT&T wireless tried that “never saying no” thing, along with never say words like “policy”. It worked for a bit, but, then the customers learned (again) to simply complain higher up (it was easy to move up the chain of management) and they’d get what they want. I always tried to instil in my folks to consider if this was a “good business decision”, because they generally knew the costs associated. If someone was whining big time about a broken car charger, reps often took it personally, plus, they were thinking “hey, you broke it, buy another.” But, it was often worth it just to make the customer happy and get them to shut the hell up by replacing a CLA that cost $5 to the company. They’d often get upset with me when I took care of the customer, even though they knew what I was doing, and I explained it to them again. I’d tell them they were taking it too personally, but, the customers in wireless have been trained to make it personal.

    I also taught them to never say “I’m sorry,” because the customer would say “yes, you are.” Always apologize. Saying sorry is personal.

    One great thing I learned when the business switched from 80% sales to 80% not sales was to explain what you are doing while you are doing it, keeps the customer in the loop. Before that, we’d find out what the problem was, fix the problem, then tell cust problem was fixed. But, they were still unhappy. One of the big fixes was thinking about Kevin Kline in A Fish Called Wanda, where he would say “what was the middle thing?” Explanations always work great, which I do with my current job, and have pretty high ratings.

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