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Why No One Wants to Work for You, and What You Can Do About It

Dec. 10, 2021
It’s not that employees now have more power than employers—it’s that they have the same power.

Employees are quitting in droves. One out of four workers has resigned in the past year. Employers everywhere are wringing their hands and fretting what went wrong. Why are employees leaving? We’ve never had trouble recruiting before. Maybe they’re just soft, entitled, spoiled. Surely, they’ll be back.

Or maybe this isn’t a “them” problemmaybe it’s a “you” problem.

This isn’t the Great Resignation so much as it is the Great Reset.

The playing field is now level, folks. That’s the change. It’s not that employees have more power than employers—it’s that they have the same power. The same power to be selective and evaluate a variety of options. The same power to say what they want from the arrangement. The same power to accept or reject. The power to look at publicly available documents, including crowd-sourced salary information sheets, and act accordingly. Even the same power to ghost and not even get back to a company. 

Employees don’t have to come begging, desperate for a chance, willing to take any job available, even if the company’s not a good fit, has a bad reputation, or offers crap pay and even crappier benefits. For some companies, that’s quite the unsettling wake-up call. Suddenly that talent brand you phoned in is a thing; better polish it up. What do you stand for? What’s your reputation for treating workers? How does your culture show up for people? Why would someone want to work for you?

As a start, maybe it’s time to blow the dust off tired hiring practices that take candidates for granted and reimagine a way to bring out your best.

Things that might matter?

Be Honest

From the get-go, it should be “What you see is what you get.” Be clear about what the job is—and isn’t. It’s not in your best interest to dress it up like something it’s not. Honesty comes across even in the little things, like interviewing in ways that are realistic for the job. If it’s a technical interview, then make it a programming exercise on problems that are a tight fit for what the candidate will actually experience on the job—not a random algo question designed to be a “gotcha.” 

Get Rid of Pointless, Painful Elements

“How many golf balls fit into a 747?” “How would you calculate the number of needles on a Douglas fir?” “Talk us through reversing a binary tree.” Asking brain teaser questions is like bragging about your investments at a party to pick someone up: You think it makes you look good, but you come across like a jerk that’s trying too hard, spouting off about stuff that’s pointless. 

Candidates see questions like these for what they are: irrelevant to the job at hand. And like that dude at the party, you won’t maintain their interest or get them to the next step in your hiring process.

Be Respectful of Candidates’ Time

Making people prep for hours and hours for a tech interview that has nothing to do with the job is a waste of time. What’s more: it’s disrespectful. It tells candidates that you don’t care at all about their personal lives, if they have childcare commitments, a current full-time job, whatever. There are other, better ways to evaluate someone’s skills with real-world fidelity that doesn’t involve them investing multiple hours “just because” or “well, too bad, that’s the way we do things here.”

So what can you do? Come up with a real value proposition for candidates. Stop being lazy and figure out what the real, compelling reasons are for working at your company. Create offers that make people excited to join; develop a culture where people want to stay; invest in paths for skills growth and promotion. Invest in your talent brand in a meaningful way. Make the interview process a two-way conversation.

Many employers have taken candidates for granted because they felt there would always be more applicants than they needed. Now fortunes have changed.

Time to change with them.

Amanda Richardson is CEO of CoderPad.

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