Why BP's Tony Hayward Could Work in HR

Human resources departments also probably want their lives back. Boohoo.


By now everyone has heard about the head of BP’s incredibly tone-deaf moment over the weekend, when he took time off from the oil spill disaster to attend a yacht race off the southern coast of England.

When was the last time you attended a yacht race?

[See 22 ways to be a better boss.]

Back in the real world, there are many companies and human resources departments who do try to respond to all job candidates, but plenty do not. Are some people in HR simply tone deaf? Here’s my thinking:

A week or so ago, I spoke before a group of about 50 middle-manager-type job searchers. Their number one frustration was not that they couldn't find job openings. Rather, it was that HR would not even acknowledge receiving their resume and cover letter.

Dick Bolles, job-search expert and author of What Color is Your Parachute?, advises HR people to play like a job seeker for one day to get a better appreciation of the process and for how your company responds and reacts to job seekers.

[See 6 ways to keep your employees from jumping ship.]

I understand that HR today is overworked, underpaid and under-appreciated. Which is sort of like Tony Hayward complaining that he wants “his life back.” Boo-freaking-hoo, Tony.

Countless career experts and resume writers counsel job hunters to fine-tune and customize their letters and resumes. Why bother if HR spends seconds on them, and then will not even send a form letter that says “we got it, thanks?"

[See 9 symbolic gestures from a good boss.]

I am not sure what the solution is, but there must be one. I am betting that some senior executives will be surprised when they learn just how rude their HR departments have been to local job applicants--prospective clients and customers.

In fact, go ahead and leave a comment about dealing with an HR department that you felt should have done a better job of responding to your resume and application. Perhaps more important, have you encountered an HR department that does this well?

G. L. Hoffman is a serial entrepreneur and venture investor/operator/incubator/mentor. Two of his companies have traveled the entire success path from the garage to IPO. Currently, he is chairman of JobDig, which operates LinkUp, one of the fastest-growing job-search engines.. His blog can be found at WhatWouldDadSay.com.


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