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Why the “Burden of Proof” Ultimately Rests with the Employer

Every once in a while, even though I’m not a television watcher, I like to watch a good court drama, regardless of whether it’s a television show or a movie. One of the phrases that’s usually mentioned during a show such as this is “burden of proof.” What is that?

To paraphrase the legal definition, the burden of proof refers to the duty of a party in a trial to produce the evidence that will support the claims that they are making. In other words, if they want everyone in the courtroom to believe what they are saying, including the judge, then they’re going to have to prove it without a shadow of a doubt.

In this particular blog post, I’m going to argue that the “burden of proof” in the hiring world ultimately rest with the employer.

Presenting Exhibit A

This all starts with the fact that we’re in a candidates’ job market today. I’ve discussed this at length before. In a candidates’ job market, candidates have more options. In addition, the top candidates have the most options and also the best options. Keep that in mind as a backdrop as we move forward.

In keeping with the courtroom analogy, there are two parties involved in our hiring scenario: the candidate and the employer. They are both making claims that they believe to be true. Those claims are as follows.

The candidate, by wanting to be considered for the organization’s open position, is claiming that they are the best candidate for the position.

The employer, on the other hand, is claiming that they are an employer of choice within the Animal Health industry or Veterinary profession.

“Wait a minute,” you might be saying. “Why is that what the employer is claiming? Aren’t they claiming that they have an open position, a job they want to fill?”

That’s not a claim. That’s a fact. That’s Exhibit A, if you will. Nobody is disputing that. However, if that organization wants candidates, especially the top candidates, to work for it, then it must be claiming that it is an employer of choice in the marketplace. And that is something which is in dispute.

As a result, that is the employer’s “burden of proof.” And they must prove it not just to one candidate. They must prove it to every candidate involved in the hiring process.

The dynamics of a dilemma

I have a recent case study that helps to illustrate all of this. A candidate was supposed to have a phone call with one of my clients. In fact, the candidate and the hiring manager had scheduled a specific day and time for the phone call. The time came and went, but the candidate did not receive a call. Later that day, they did receive an email from the hiring manager, who said they had tried to call and left a message on the candidate’s cell phone. However, the candidate did not find nor see a message on their phone.

Could the whole thing be tied to a snafu with one of the phone companies? Quite possibly. It could be that it was nobody’s fault that the phone call did not take place. Whatever the reason, there was a dilemma. That dilemma could be summed up as follows:

  • Since the hiring manager was under the impression that the candidate did not answer the phone, they thought perhaps that the candidate was no longer interested in the position.
  • Since the candidate had no record of a voicemail message on their cell phone, they were left with a poor impression of the company. In fact, their impression was so poor that they were contemplating dropping out of the hiring process altogether. They were thinking of dropping out not because they weren’t interested in the position, but because of how the failed phone call was handled.

As I’ve already mentioned, more than likely, nobody was truly at fault in this situation. However, on which party does the “burden of proof” lie?

The “proof” is in the pudding

Here’s where the real problem arises for the employer in this situation. The candidate has a “bad taste in their mouth” about the organization. Even if the hiring manager decided that they did not want to consider the candidate anymore, that candidate could talk with other people about their experience. What they would relay to them would be a perceived negative experience.

Now, does a perceived negative experience during the hiring process go hand-in-hand with being an employer of choice in the marketplace? It most definitely does not.

It’s true that everyone is busy. It’s true that everyone’s time is valuable. However, in this situation, the “burden of proof” lies with the employer. In order to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that their organization is an employer of choice in the marketplace, its officials must go “above and beyond” to state their case.

How do they state their case? By doing everything they can to make a positive impression. That could entail any number of things, depending upon the situation. This includes calling, emailing, and/or texting, basically communicating. If they called and didn’t get the candidate on the phone perhaps they misdialed and could have tried again or followed up with an email. Yes, as I stated, everyone is busy and everyone’s time is valuable.

But once again, we’re in a candidates’ job market. We know what that means. And when it comes to hiring top candidates in the marketplace, the “burden of proof” is on the employer. Its officials must prove to candidates that working at their organization is the best career move.

And yes, that might take a little more time and a little more effort. But in the long term, it’s worth it.

We help support careers in one of two ways: 1. By helping Animal Health and Veterinary professionals to find the right opportunity when the time is right, and 2. By helping to recruit top talent for the critical needs of Animal Health and Veterinary organizations. If this is something that you would like to explore further, please send an email to stacy@thevetrecruiter.com.

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