Last week, I spoke to employers and job seekers at an Employment Best Practices event about the crucial need for transparency to make the best match. Afterwards, I spoke with Linda J., a woman who is currently in a job search. She told me that what I shared with the group resonated with her. Over the last week, she and I corresponded back-and-forth via email a few times. I wanted to be helpful to Linda because I feel like job seekers are f@$%ed. There’s endless content on the interwebs, but so few resources that really help them. Nearly all the solutions are geared towards employers becausethe employers pay to get candidates. I really felt for her. It’s clear that Linda is super smart, generous and had great follow-up skills. She LinkedIn with me after the presentation and emailed me with some resources that could be helpful to me. I believe she’s highly employable and valuable. But she’s totally lost.
In an effort to help Linda, I looked at her LinkedIn profile to give her some feedback. I wanted to see how recruiters see her. When I read the “Experience” section, it was blank. I called her and asked her why it was blank. Did she have no experience? Did she just get out of school? (full disclosure: I can never tell if someone is 23 or 32 years old – Colbert doesn’t see color… I don’t see age). Linda said that she has lots of HR/Recruiting experience but she has a career gap. She chose to provide no information instead of including the gap and giving people insight about what she has done out of fear that she would be seen as lacking and that deficiency may knock her out of the running for her dream job.
After Linda explained her reason for providing no information about her “Experience”, I pointed out to her that this is exactly what employers do. A lot of employers provide no information about who they are at all. They prefer to say nothing than share what they do out of fear they will miss out on good talent if they don’t do everything perfectly. She immediately recognized what I was talking about because she’s seen so many employers’ career pages that say nothing. I explained that employers are ALSO afraid to be transparent.
Both job seekers and employers are mired in so much blah, blah, blah corporate speak that neither one can possibly know anything about the other. Too many career sites say: “We have a family-friendly culture!” or “We have a great learning culture and reward innovation/risk-taking”… Oh yeah? How? What do you do that’s different from the other employer I’m considering? Or there’s no content at all. We’ve all seen those career pages, (if you can call it a career page), that say we are looking for smart people!! Send your resume to WeAreHiringPeopleX@CompanyX.com.
Truth: it’s scary to be who you really are. Transparency is tough whether you are an individual or you are a group/company. Some people are not going to like you. That notion preys on our insecurities. We worry that if we aren’t all things to all people that we will not be chosen. But it’s better to be who you really are and let people choose you instead of presenting some version of yourself because it’s a version that you think people will choose. Only when you are fully transparent, will you truly find your tribe.