Finding a job despite everything

We asked Tina Kafantari, a senior HR executive based in Athens, how to survive your job search.

“There are a lot of challenges that job candidates must face today. First of all, the fact that they don’t receive feedback on their performance during the interviewing process is very discouraging. Companies should overcome these prejudices, not the candidates. Diversity and inclusion culture and practices in companies have to be implemented now, more than ever,” Kafantari insists.

Without feedback, how can one improve interviewing skills?

“For the last few years, we know that HR professionals advised job seekers to seek feedback. Yet, job seekers are not getting feedback, they’re not even getting a closure note – a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in reply to their job applications.

That is absurd. There are a number of automated systems that will provide proper closure replies to candidates, so there is no reason for companies not to do this,” Kafantari says.

What about the lack of feedback after interviews?

“This is not acceptable. I would say that as an HR professional with many years of experience in the field, it is not acceptable. Even just a few lines makes a difference.

The impact on the candidate is terribly negative. We know that the recruitment and interviewing process is already very stressful and frustrating for the candidate so poor practice on the company’s part can make it even worse.”

What companies, however, do not realise is that poor practice in HR hurts their reputations and ability to attract top candidates, Kafantari points out.

“Poor practice in HR hurts employer branding. Candidates may choose not to work for those employers – talent may simply look elsewhere. And of course, this is not at all good for the company,” she notes.

“Especially at a time when, as many experts have indicated, rebranding as an employer is crucial for companies, if they are to attract talent.”

And when candidates must overcome prejudices about age and gender?

“Prejudice about age is one of the worst at present, particularly as there are many older candidates changing jobs at present. It’s very difficult for mature professionals to find a job. We know that there are laws against age discrimination. But I think that discrimination against the over 50s is very much alive, but well-hidden at many companies,” Kafantari explains.

On the other hand, the gender prejudice seems to be disappearing slowly. It is still to be reckoned with, but we do see an increasing number of women in the workplace in Cyprus.

Then there are the challenges facing the youngest candidates for jobs, those who have just graduated.

“For those just starting out, the recruitment processes are not clear and transparent. On the contrary, they are complex, lengthy and very confusing. They are border-line hostile to the candidate, in fact, and they end up making candidates give up without going through the entire process,” Kafantari warns.

“For one thing, the job posting information often does not match the actual duties and responsibilities of the role. For another, the profile of the of the hiring manager or recruiter is often not the appropriate one. This builds candidate frustration.”

Candidates are also frequently frustrated by inflated job descriptions that attract them to apply, only to find out that the real job doesn’t have the duties and responsibilities that the candidate was looking for, she adds.

Then there is the problem of getting the wrong hiring manager for a role.

Kafantari proposes an example in which the hiring manager is not very experienced, say a person about 28 to 35, interviewing very experienced professional, aged 50 and above.

“Needless to say, this interview won’t go well, and pairing a young hiring manager with an older professional just isn’t good practice. You have to differentiate the profile of the hiring manager according to the profile of the talent you are seeking. The result is often rapid turnover as the wrong candidate is selected for the role, and that costs the company a lot of money.”

Professional recruitment practice matters, and it has an effect on successful hiring, Kafantari concludes.

Research shows us that 70 per cent of candidates who fail in roles have been recruited with job postings, not with networking.

People who are seeking a job should build a very good network. LinkedIn is an excellent tool.

Then be persistent. Be optimistic. It is a frustrating process. But work hard at it, and you will eventually succeed,” Kafantari concludes.