Put yourself in their shoes…

Put yourself in their shoes…

As recruiters, it may sometimes be difficult to remember (or imagine) what it’s like to be a job-seeking candidate. As time and technology moves on, and the application process continues to change, the fears job-seekers may experience could look different to those felt by candidates a couple of decades ago. On the other hand, some are age-old, and stem from confidence issues and typical fears that can surround change.

A new survey by C.V. Library asked more than 1200 employees what they dread about the recruitment process. As to the scale of these worries, one in ten actually admitted that they’d miss/avoid an interview if one or more of these obstacles loomed. One in three potential candidates wouldn’t even apply for a job if it meant facing their fears.

Perhaps unavoidable, but significant nonetheless, the survey found the main reason that puts candidates off applying for a new role is the possibility of being rejected. Of course, if there’s one role on offer and hundreds of candidates apply, there are going to be a few bruised egos – it’s simple maths.

The interview process itself was cited as enough to deter 42% of respondents. Often awkward and nerve-wracking, perhaps it’s no surprise that few people would find an interview fun. Issues such as showing nerves and taking too long to answer questions, making a poor first impression, remembering people’s names, and not knowing enough about the company, are prominent worries in candidates’ minds.

Competency, aptitude and personality testing also terrify those looking to further their career (39.9%). So do video interviews, role-playing and being interrogated by a panel. Videos, in particular, unsettled a third of those surveyed. Only just pipping video to the post was having to speak to an interviewer or potential employer over the phone (34.8%) It seems that the generation brought up on mobiles don’t actually use them as a telephone.

Penning cover letters and C.V.s appeared on the survey’s list of fears, as did arranging time off to attend an interview - which is undoubtedly more of an issue for job-seekers already in employment who don’t want their current employer knowing they’re looking for new opportunities. Whilst this may be the cause of stress around the interview process, having a job to fall back on if you don’t get the role is a definite plus, as well as the fact that most employers prefer potential candidates to already have a job.

Lastly, the least feared, but still an issue for 13% of respondents, was meeting new people. So comfortable do we become in the current status quo, getting out into the world and making yourself available to recruiters can seem like a mountain to climb for some people.

Another interesting finding was how the feedback differed by generation. The report found that two-thirds of under-24s found job-hunting a stressful process, compared to the 44% of 44-64 year-olds that admitted to having fears. However, age can also prove a worrying factor for the over-fifty job-seekers, who fear that employers will consider them too old for a role.

Advice from Lee Biggins, C.V. Library’s founder: ‘If you relate to any of these fears, remember that the more experience you can get of job searching, interviews and job applications, the easier and less nerve-wracking it will eventually become.’

It appears the issues mentioned above are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to possible worries surrounding the job hunt. Other fears and worries include: the thought that looking and applying for new jobs completely takes up candidates’ free time, candidates worrying whether they’re qualified for any of the roles they see, assuming all the other candidates will be better and not being able to stand out, that a new job may be worse than the candidate’s current role, that the candidate’s current employer won’t give them a decent reference, that so few job applications respond/feed back . . . the list could go on.

Last but not least, and a fear that seems counter-productive to the whole thing: the worries that come from actually getting the job! Because, suddenly, it’s real. The new offer accepted, there’s no backing out. Candidates worry whether they can do what they said in the interview. They fear jumping from the frying pan into the fire. They worry whether their first impressions of the role/company/new manager are accurate. They dread those awkward first weeks, where they have to learn everything they’ll need to know. The ‘getting to know new colleagues’ process, and finding out if the internal culture of the company is a good fit. The realisation that everything in their wardrobe is only good for the charity shop. And lastly, the knowledge that it could be a while until they feel like they ‘belong’ to the new place . . .

Whilst it is frightening to start again somewhere new, if everything was peachy in their current role, they wouldn’t even be looking at what else is out there. If everything we’ve mentioned above really does terrify a candidate, recommend they consider the cons of staying in their current position. For example, do they currently have any scope for job progression? Get them to list the things that annoy them about their colleagues, manager – or both. Ask them if they feel challenged by the job any more. Whether the remuneration is appropriate and/or enough for their needs.

These are all typical drivers for employees to consider a new position – and things that should be remembered when the job-hunting process takes a candidate out of their comfort zone.

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