May 10, 1998. Mother’s Day. One of the most beloved dates in the calendar year, as we honor the person who birthed and raised us unselfishly. For restaurants, Mother’s Day takes special meaning because of the extra rings generated by the cash register. We had just launched our restaurant a week earlier and truth be told, we were not confident in our capability to manage consistently large orders of food. It would have special meaning for me, as I would come to revisit how the employment hiring process works.
By 12:15 pm, we hung a wait-to-be-seated sign. By 12:30 pm, all hell broke loose.
Sometime after 1:00 pm, when the second surge of customers was coming in, one of my service crew went up to me as I was preparing what seemed like a hundred burgers. She said a customer was requesting to talk to the owner of the establishment “right now.”
I told my crew to advise the customer that I would meet with her once the kitchen was stable. A few minutes later, the service crew came back and said the customer was threatening to “create a scene” and put me out of business because she was a member of media.
I begrudgingly stepped out of the grill and trusted my grill men to manage the station for a few minutes. The few minutes seemed like hours. The woman, who was in her mid-thirties, basically gave me a dressing down. She ran a litany of the “do’s and don’ts” in the restaurant business and demanded I address the backlog of orders immediately and without fail.
I respectfully advised her that I have taken note of her advice, but I need to go back to the grill to normalize the flow of operations. She would not let me go and insisted that I apologize to everyone and offer refunds. I politely said, “No. What I need to do right now is work.”
The day after, I kept myself to the store’s office trying to figure out where operations went wrong. Shortly after lunch, one of my service crew informed me that the lady who dressed me down was in the store and wanted to talk to me again. I reluctantly met her, as I was quite confounded at what she could possibly want to talk about this time.
She presented herself as an “experienced restaurant manager,” not a media personality, and she offered her services to my restaurant as its new manager. With a smile, she forwarded her newly updated curriculum vitae.
I don’t know how many demons I fought from possessing my body at the time, but it took superhuman effort to keep in mind that my parents raised me to be a gentleman and respectful to everyone, especially to women.
But I had to sternly “advise” her that what she did yesterday—pulling me out of the grill—was irresponsible and thoughtless for an “experienced restaurant manager.” She used it as a forum to highlight her capabilities at the expense of the business and the customers.
I told her not to waste her CV on me because I would not hire her even as the store’s in-house security guard.
Employee Hiring Process: 5 Rules
Rule No.1: You can make opportunities happen; but don’t force them
The lady in my narrative must have been inspired by the “Muscles from Brussels” Jean Claude Van Damme, who according to film lore stepped inside the head office of Golan Globus and did his famous helicopter kick in front of its founder, Menahem Golan, in order to land the star-making role in Bloodsport.
The employee hiring process is exactly what it is: a process. There is a sequence of events that should be observed and respected. What she should have done was to wait for operations to normalize and then send a word to one of the managers that she would want to speak with me whenever I would be available. That would have been the professional thing to do, and we would have had a productive discussion over a cup of coffee. I may even have hired her as a manager or a consultant at the very least. She saw the opportunity and seized it by the neck instead of holding it by the hand.
Rule No. 2: Regardless of the nature of work, dress professionally for the interview
I’ve always followed the saying, “You can be overdressed for a swimming party.” I believe you can never go wrong when you’re dressed well.
In outsourcing, employment follows a revolving-door policy. The rate of turnover is very high because of the sheer volume of applicants, wherein quality often becomes diluted. When I entered the outsourcing industry in 2009, I still had the mindset of a recruiter for a restaurant business. I did not focus on the concept of right-fit as I do now, and I used to put a significant weight on curriculum vitae. Now, there is a great deal of value and importance in a CV, as it is your only reference point when interviewing an applicant for the first time. Thus, first impressions last, sometimes until the moment the applicant steps inside the interview room.
One of the applicants for a chat moderator position showed up with a baggy shirt that looked like it had not been washed for weeks. But tidiness wasn’t the issue. The centerpiece of the shirt was a skeletal representation of a hand the size of that of Shaquille O’Neal giving a stern middle finger salute.
Before he sat down, I asked him if he knew what he was thinking when he chose this particular shirt for the job interview. His answer came in the form of a sheepish smile; he must have thought I found the shirt “cool.” I asked him if he had decent dress shirts. He said “yes.” At that point, I had everything that I needed to know and told him we were not interested in hiring him.
When you are looking for work, you are competing with everyone else. Thus, you are selling your credentials to the company. You have to scrutinize the overall package. Although fine clothes do not make a man, these will certainly help increase your chances of landing a job. You do not need to wear an Armani or a Hugo Boss for your interview. Just dress appropriately and smartly. Represent yourself as a professional and as the right person for the job. It’s also a sign of respect for the employee hiring process and for the company that considered your application.
Rule No. 3: Be unique; that means avoid submitting the CV forms you buy at the bookstore
When I handled recruitment for a ship-staffing company, one of my responsibilities was reviewing the file of applications we receive from prospective seafarers on a daily basis. It gave me painful migraines going over the CVs that looked alike because they all used the same template. These CVs are those you can buy at a National Bookstore with the narrow lines and tight margins. Nine out of ten people who used these templates used freehand to input their data, and 10 out of 10 times, no one except for the applicant would be able to decipher them.
Your CV summarizes all the pertinent information about you. You cannot leave it to chance that valuable details would not be considered because they could not be understood. Your CV also highlights your level of professionalism and respect for the company whose employment you seek. It is your passport to gaining employment opportunities. If you want to be perceived as a professional, be a professional in all aspects. Trust me, human resource managers have no patience reviewing CVs that look unprofessional and unkempt.
And this includes your profile picture. Wear a dress shirt or better yet, put a decent blazer on. Most of all, let a professional take your picture. There are professional photographers who can take your profile picture at affordable prices. I gave this advice to a seaman who replied that he did not have the money to have a professional picture taken. I reminded him his pack of cigarettes probably cost more than having a professional picture taken.
Invest in yourself and make sure the documents required in the employee hiring process are packaged and conceptualized professionally.
Rule No. 4: Confidence is not synonymous with arrogance
When my outsourcing company landed an account for digital marketing services, the first order of the day was to hire a social media marketer. I went through a few names in my 201 but eventually offered the job to a candidate with the most impressive portfolio and highest recommendations. We also hit it off well during the interview that I thought he was a perfect fit for the project.
A few days into the arrangement, he kept messaging me about payment. I told him I cannot issue payment because we had not started the project yet. He kept badgering me about his policy of being paid by the hour and that the meter started when I interviewed him for the job.
“I have to pay you for offering you the job? Either you’re joking or you’re clinically insane.” He was insane. He was demanding I pay him Php 150,000 in advance to cover his fees. This included his professional fee of Php 100,000; his web designer, Php 45,000; and his SEO Writer, Php 10,000.
When I refused, he threatened to “steal” my client because “there’s no way the client will go onboard the project without me.”
Apparently, Mr. Genius did not read the contract well because he forgot he signed a confidentiality agreement (CA), which prevented him from approaching the client. He also forgot that I recorded all our conversations. These steps are how I maintain the integrity of our employee hiring process. The CA and recordings were sent to my lawyer. Eventually, he left the project before I had the pleasure of firing him and I hired another social media marketer.
Confidence is a great thing. It will drive you past challenges and guide you to a better career. Arrogance will get you to the unemployment line. No one wants to work with a person who believes he/she is better than everyone else. You need to prove yourself first before raising any demand.
Rule No. 5: Moderate your social media postings
Social media is a great thing. It has given consumers the power to influence big businesses. It has also given people a false sense of entitlement.
One of the candidates I interviewed for supervisory position performed very well in the basic skills tests and preliminary interviews. I was sure we had found a budding “superstar” in our organization. As part of our recruitment process, we checked his social media accounts 12 hours after the interview. We were surprised at the pictures and messages posted on his wall. What we saw was clearly not what we had expected based on his performance and demeanor. However, the most disturbing was his post on the interview he had with our company. He insulted the physical attributes of the female manager who interviewed him and described the process as “preschool” and “unworthy of his talents.” This is the “general patronage” version of his actual description.
We asked him to report to the office the following day for a final interview. We proceeded to show him a screen shot of his postings and requested an explanation. He could not offer one except that he was “sorry” and that he was drunk at the time of the posting. He claimed he was so happy to get the job he celebrated and drank irresponsibly.
We had our lawyer draft a letter requesting him for a public apology on his social media account and a deletion of the post or be charged with posting libelous, defamatory statements versus the individual and the company.
Social media means social responsibility. Although the World Wide Web remains unregulated and free, you have to be mindful of what you post. Companies have taken advantage of social media to shore up their due diligence procedures on clients and personnel.
Human resource managers have finally recognized the most crucial component of their job: human component. Gone are the days when HR would qualify people based on CV and preemployment test results. Companies and businesses have finally acknowledged the value of the behavioral component in the recruitment and hiring process. Who you are is more important that what you can bring to the company.
If you want to land the job of your dreams or the one that would help you get past life’s difficulties, the first thing you need to do is have a good, long look at yourself and be honest with who you are and what you see. Ask yourself, “Would you hire you?” or alternatively, “Would you be willing to invest in someone like you?” The answer will cascade to how you present yourself and your performance in the employee hiring process.
In general, companies follow similar processes in hiring personnel. You have the evaluation of CV and supporting documents, preliminary interview, basic skills and psychological tests, group activities, among others. The difference between getting hired and discarded would most often lie in your observance of the untold rules of recruitment.