Beware of applicant
  • The other day I was quite struck by a seemingly ordinary sentence at the end of a job posting that I received from Santropol Roulant.

    “We encourage applicants to drop their CVs off in person.”

    I was a bit taken aback, less by the statement itself than by my own reaction to it. It felt strange to me. But why?

    It occurred to me that none of the organizations I’ve worked with over the years had ever thought to approach the hiring process with such an open, invitational spirit. We had gone along with the conventional “don’t call us, we’ll call you” approach. We kept things closed and tightly managed. Our assumption was that we wouldn’t want job applicants dropping by in person because it would be a waste of time to talk to so many people when only a handful of them would be closely considered in the end. And we certainly wouldn’t want to have to explain to the applicants who are least qualified for the position why that is the case. That would be time-consuming and awkward.

    I had never considered what we might be missing by taking such a narrow, anxious stance. Perhaps people who don’t end up getting hired might decide to get involved in the organization in other ways- as volunteers or donors? Or perhaps there is potentially something important and nourishing in each new encounter, regardless of outcome.

    I was still a little skeptical, though, so yesterday I stopped into the Roulant a few minutes before my volunteer shift to chat with some of the staff about how they experienced this open hiring process. The conversation started off with Julian. His off-the-cuff reaction was, “Why would anyone not do it this way? It just makes so much sense.”

    Elana and Helen were equally positive. They described the process as energizing rather than draining. They spoke of how much easier it is to get a feel for applicants’ personalities when you meet them face-to-face, rather than relying solely on a pile of CVs and cover letters. And applicants could likewise get a better sense of the organization and whether or not it might be a good fit.

    What I love most about this simple shift in thinking is that it is aligned with the Roulant’s general way of working. The organization sees every aspect of its functioning as an opportunity to build community. Hiring, fundraising, networking, meeting together, providing core services, and even moving to a new building can all become doorways to experiencing the organization’s core purpose.

    September 1st, 2010 | Tana Paddock | 2 Comments

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