Searching for a job is no easy task – building a resume, assessing your skills, drafting cover letters and preparing for interviews is time-consuming, stressful and even disheartening at times. The stressors of job searching can take a negative toll on a person’s mental health, but good mental health is a key influence for success in the job search (The Health Foundation). This Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s important we bring awareness to the stress created by job searching, as well as how prospective employers can help lessen that weight for candidates.
In a previous article, I wrote about how business leaders can prioritize and positively contribute to the mental health of their employees. Offering incentives, outsourcing mental health resources, and checking in with people are all great internal ways to boost mental health. There is additional value, however, in investing in the mental health of your prospective employees as well. This can be done by evaluating your company’s hiring process and ensuring it is as smooth as possible for candidates.
I would encourage employers, first and foremost, to openly communicate with candidates. A lack of communication from a company creates confusion and anxiety for job seekers, so any efforts to combat those worries are helpful. A message confirming an application was received, a timely request for an interview and rejection letters for all candidates should be common courtesies employer take in the hiring process (SHRM).
A key aspect of an efficient and stress-free interview is preparation – both by the candidate and the employer. Prior to an interview, business leaders should develop a clear goal for the conversation and questions with candidates that do more than reveal a candidate’s skills and attributes (SHRM). Comprehensive interview questions allow candidates to feel valued, respected and worth the employer’s time, which contributes to confidence and boosts mental health (Mental Health America).
Finally, a friendly reminder to my fellow leaders from a previous equal opportunity officer, the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits employers from asking questions that are likely to reveal the existence of a disability before making a job offer (ie, the pre-offer period) , as outlined on the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website. For example, it is forbidden to ask, “have you ever been treated for mental health problems?” within written questionnaires and inquiries during interviews before extending a job offer. More details can be found at eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/job-applicants-and-ada.
For people who are personally experiencing mental health concerns while job searching, my previous article mentions mental health resources available to job seekers and how to access them. For business leaders, prioritizing mental health for your prospective employees makes for a smooth interview process, a stress-free candidate, and an all-around better hiring experience.
Carrie Rosingana is the CEO of Capital Area Michigan Works! Visitwww.camw.org/ to connect with the Capital Area Michigan Works! team for assistance with career exploration or staffing needs. Capital Area Michigan Works !, a proud partner of the American Job Center Network, offers services in Ingham, Clinton and Eaton counties at our Lansing, St. Johns and Charlotte American Job Centers.