Friday, July 11, 2008

Following Directions

What drives me absolutely bonkers is the simple concept of following directions. We have a lot of instructions in our office. There are instructions on how to apply for posted openings, instructions on completing tax paperwork, instructions on completing benefit forms, instructions on hiring, etc, etc, etc. We have LOTS of information on 'how to' do just about anything. Perhaps we just like telling people what to do and how to do it. But with friends like the IRS, DHS, DOS and a host of other federal and state agencies looking over our collective shoulders, we are a *little* funny about doing things correctly.

I believe that people who work in Human Resources are relatively competent, for the most part. I don't think that we go to work saying, "hey let's mess with people and our instructions." Rather we try diligently to explain in mind-numbing detail why we need what we do, why we can't take photocopies of identification, why Border Patrol and ICE CAN INDEED ask to see your immigration paperwork, why our flex administrators need a receipt. You get the picture.

I have a host of people who routinely and arbitrarily decide that individually, he or she KNOWS BETTER. I recently had an applicant who called to follow up on an email. He had applied (or so he thought) for a position by emailing in his documents. We follow up on every submission, emailing proper application instructions. Apparently, the instructions on the position posting AND our emailed instructions did NOT apply to him. He was irate that he would not be considered because he did not follow instructions. Wow.

When job hunting, I constantly counsel people to please whatever you do, follow the directions. No matter how inane, arcane, absurd or bizarre you think they are, they are directions for a reason. Follow them to the letter of the LAW.


HR Minion said...

Well, at least it's an easy way to weed out the bad candidates. If they can't, or refuse to, follow directions they have no one to blame but themselves. Not that it will stop them from blaming everyone else but themselves. :)

HR Wench said...

Having been lucky enough to witness REALLY BAD HR departments, I disagree with your last paragraph. Yes, if you're dealing with a progressive and competent HR dept you should follow the directions when applying for jobs. If you're dealing with the opposite, be careful.

Example: I recently applied for a position with a Fortune 1000 company. They had no recruiting database. They required candidates to fill out applications and email them in along with their resume.

The application required a social security number and the background release document required a date of birth. The two documents were "as one" in a PDF. Not separate.

It is an extremely bad idea to give you SSN to an employer without having an interview first (for you and for them - they are required to vigilantly protect that info in many states). It is also an extremely bad idea to send this information via email. It is ridiculous to require a candidate to agree to a background check & sign off on it prior to an interview. How do they know they are that interested yet?

Yet there it all was, in writing, as their "requirements" to apply. I called them up and told them my concerns. The recruiter apologized profusely for the inconvenience and told me to fill out only as much as I wanted and send it directly to her.

Cool! But, could have saved her, me and other applicants a lot of time by changing the process online. And think of the candidates they missed out on completely with that stuff online?

PS I did get an interview, too! :)

HR Maven said...

That's a good point Wench. I agree that if you don't think the directions are good to question them. I would think that candidates wouldn't include that kind of information electronically unless it was encrypted.

For many of the online application programs, they require a SSN to avoid candidate duplication. For DOD/Fed jobs, they require a SSN. With our online applicant program, we elected not to collect that information because we didn't want to be responsible for it.

What I caution people is to not reinvent the rules. If companies request information and give the directions, it's for a reason. People who don't follow application instructions stand out - and not for good reasons.