Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Where I am Annoyed and Sympathetic Towards HR

I've been applying for jobs at New City where my boyfriend and I will be moving. I seem to be having more luck with administrative jobs at universities, but I haven't been looking at many private companies. I have, however, developed both a great deal of annoyance and much sympathy for HR departments.

I've applied for multiple jobs at Big University in New City. BUNC requires you to fill out an online application for each job, which is then reviewed by HR before getting passed to the hiring manager for that job. Four of the six jobs I applied for, I was rejected by HR. I felt I could do all the jobs fairly well and that my experience at least applied, in some measure, to their requirements. Two of the four they rejected me for I actually felt I legitimately matched their minimum requirements, no adjusting or hard sell required. And yet, I was shot down.

At the risk of being rude to HR, I think that Ph.D. on my resume prejudiced them.

I understand that BUNC likely gets hundreds of applications every day. And that some poor, underpaid, overworked individual is forced to sort out who matches the requirements for each job and who doesn't. This is why I have sympathy for these folks. That does not sound like fun. Would you want to be responsible for deciding if someone with a nontraditional background is worth the hiring managers time or not? The need to be that objective and unbiased is bound to keep good people from making it to the hiring manager but that may be the lesser of two evils. Inundating the hiring manager with unacceptable applicants is probably going to make that (likely more powerful) individual very cranky.

On the flipside, I get annoyed with HR because I am more than capable to do any of the jobs I applied for, yet hiring managers are not seeing my materials because they can't get past HR. There isn't really any remedy for this problem. I did email HR about the two jobs that I felt I did actually meet the requirements for and they offered to look at it again and see what happened. One asked for a degree in social science, among other possible fields. I have three but my application was rejected because I "did not meet education requirements." I thought that was bunk and emailed my query about the decision. The other was a difference in what "experience in project management" actually means.

I had a similar problem with a private company I applied for. I'm hoping to find some smaller companies once I get there that may have jobs. Companies with no HR departments. This is one of the hazards of the post-academic job search. Not sure how to fix it. I'm sure whoever in HR is tasked with sorting applications is not paid enough to deal with such problems and I'm not going to ask them to unless they get one hell of a raise. I think this is where knowing the hiring manager for a particular job comes in handy.

So, the moral of the story is: build your network. If you can get to the city and talk to folks, you may be able to avoid this headache.

Send happy thoughts to Currer Bell who is currently battling the rental market in Pittsburgh. I picture this as a battle with a basilisk and all she's got is a butter knife. Send her good vibes, swords, and phoenixes! Good luck to Currer and all the other post-academics out there with their new or existing jobs.