April 5, 2011
Blacklisting: Why they're never going to hire you
Candidates need to be careful before sending blind resumes to job postings online. If the company's boundaries are crossed, the candidate can become blacklisted and lose the chance of ever being considered for employment with that company.
Blacklisting is very similar to what you might do with your phone's caller ID. Caller ID allows you to decide which calls to accept and which to send to voicemail. With some advanced phone systems, you can actually block certain phone numbers altogether. Company's applicant tracking systems (ATS) today allow the employers to document applicant behavior and therefore decide which resumes to review and which to ignore permanently.
What are the main reasons an employer would blacklist a job candidate? In my interviews with local and national employers, I was able to categorize three primary areas where blacklisting takes place: resume submissions, candidate profiling and HR transgressions.
Resume mismatch. If the resume you send an employer doesn't match the details found on your previous resumes you've submitted to the same company -- going back seven years -- you can get flagged in the ATS. Some companies reject your application at this point altogether, while other companies might require HR intervention.
Doesn't meet employer's needs. If your resume doesn't meet the needs of the employer, you'll typically get rejected for consideration with that opportunity. If your resume consistently doesn't meet the employer's requirements, you can get blacklisted. Resume review is done either by a human being or the company's hiring management system (HMS).
Too many submissions. Slightly different from the above, if you apply to too many roles at once -- mostly nonrelated roles -- you'll be seen as a desperate job seeker looking for a job vs. choosing a good career. While in times of desperation, employers have hired candidates just looking for work, HR studies and experience show that these employees are hard to motivate and tend to leave the organization once they find a better role. Therefore, some companies have decided to blacklist these candidates.
Is the candidate telling the truth? If the dates of employment, job titles, education or former employers found on your resume don't match what you have listed on sites such as LinkedIn, you'll be flagged in the ATS. The thought behind this is that candidates tend to lie privately -- say on their resume -- and tend to be more honest online -- where the former employer can see their qualifications.
Inappropriate behavior. It's amazing how much companies can learn about a prospective candidate by looking them up on Google, Twitter or Facebook. A large financial firm in the Seattle area blacklisted a prospective financial analyst by seeing a pattern of drunken photos of the applicant on Facebook. Other things to watch for are badmouthing your former employer, sharing confidential data, sharing inappropriate photos, constant ranting or engaging in matters that are not aligned with the culture of your prospective employer.
Can the candidate meet the business needs? In the event of a server crashing, a system-engineering candidate living 25-plus miles away would not be able to respond right away. Zillowing the candidate's address (found on most resumes) will allow HR professionals to make decisions that are location-dependent. Other uses of Zillow are for relocation purposes. Candidates who have just purchased a home are unwilling to relocate since they're probably upside down on their mortgage, however the candidate who has lived in the same home for 15-plus years has good equity and is more likely to relocate.
Interested in money only. Some candidates are quick to ask the recruiter about salary and benefits. These candidates are flagged as "money only." Research has shown that candidates interested in money only later become too hard to motivate. Candidates have to be cautious when talking about the compensation package too early in the process.
Failing the phone-screen. If you're unable to answer a good portion of the technical interview, you'll get flagged as unqualified. This could mean the end of your interviewing experience with that company. If a recruiter gets you an interview for a job for which you're not qualified, you might want to turn down the opportunity prior to the interview to save your chance for a better chance in the future.
Rejecting an offer of employment. If you turn down an accepted offer in favor of another position and later change your mind, most likely you'll be blacklisted. Companies spend a lot of time and money interviewing candidates and don't want candidates who are not decisive early on in the process.
The above list is not meant to be comprehensive, but instead is a guide to the thought-processes companies go through when sorting through applicants. Before sending in an application, make sure to review the list above and use good judgment because we live in a very small town.
Paul Anderson is presenting free Career Search Optimization seminars Saturday, April 16, and Thursday, April. 21. He'll share additional details on employer blacklisting and what to do if you find yourself on a blacklist.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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