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What’s Up with the Responsiveness of Companies?

I have heard from many job seekers that today’s market is worse than all past job markets in one very distinguishable area – the hiring companies today are not communicating like they used to with candidates. This is incredibly frustrating to candidates and can be the catalyst to get some people really worked up. I’d like to share some of my thoughts on this topic, and I can only profess to know my own personal experiences in working with candidates so please feel free to share your experiences as comments to this blog.

So, what’s the solution? You are probably not going to like what I have to say, but remember, it’s just my opinion, so here goes – what choice do you have?

So, I’ve heard from transitioning executives on this topic, and recently spoke to a senior group at Lee Hecht Harrison about this concern. Everyone has the prerogative to remove themselves from the process with whatever company they find offensive. Every job seeker has that power. However, even some of the best companies today exhibit these same characteristics and it’s incredibly disconcerting because I know people would really want to work with these companies. My answer to the LHH group was that it wasn’t their place to become frustrated with the companies’ processes. The companies owned the processes, not the job seekers, and the job seekers could always vote with their feet, if they wanted to. One attendee at this meeting did just that, and when offered a position with a company she found disrespectful in the interview process, she declined.

It’s unfortunate, but more and more companies are under pressure to make short term performance objectives and just aren’t taking the time to communicate the way they once did. I recently completed a CFO search for a major southern California institution, and the process took about 75 days. By retained search standards, that’s not bad. Given the fact that this client is a NYSE company, had to report their year-end numbers, and had multiple Board meetings during our process, we all thought this time-frame was reasonable. When I called our final slate of candidates to let them know the direction the company decided to take, most were very positive on the process, as well as the outcome, and some even wrote nice follow up emails to the management team of my client, as well as our team, showing appreciation for being considered. These people really helped their brands, and if there is an associate of the CEO in need of someone good in this role for their company, I’m sure he would have no problem recommending these folks. However, we did have someone express regret over how long the process took, and that’s a nice way of putting it. This candidate was obviously upset, however, rather than being appreciative of being considered in the first place, their reaction will have me questioning whether I should ever consider them again for another search. In short, they did their brand harm by making these comments, and frankly, they were inaccurate.

I know people can get frustrated at the lack of communication once they’re in the process. I know they can be asked to hurry up with their information and responses to questions, open up their calendars for the interview schedule, drop everything and hop a plane for an interview at almost a moment’s notice, and then not get a call for weeks sometimes. Or even worse, not get a call back after leaving messages. I’m not vouching for bad behavior, I’m just saying it happens, and it’s happening more often these days than in the past, so we might as well get used to it. For those out there that have had this happen to them, look at the bright side – at least you’re having the opportunity to get to the plate, and if you’re not the one chosen, it was probably good practice on someone else’s dime. If you end the process with a great amount of class, and thank everyone involved in getting you in front of the hiring manager, you’re probably going to do some great things for your brand long term that might serve you well in this AND future job searches. Don’t forget, today’s career marathon will likely include a number of transition periods and a number of companies you will work for in your lifetime. Building relationships with people that obviously liked you enough to put you in front of their clients (search consultants and HR recruiters) and hiring managers that liked you enough to consider you, is a prudent way to build your career long term.

Candidates get frustrated because they feel that companies don’t value relationships long term, and candidates will buy product from them, and may drive business (or not) to them in the future. Their frustration often manifests itself by saying they will never do business with XYZ company again. However, I would submit that taking the high road and being thankful for being considered will do more for you and your brand long term, than thinking about getting even in the future. After all, this relationship thing is a two-way street.

I know this is a hot topic, and I don’t know all the circumstances that candidates have had to endure, so please share your thoughts and opinions so we can provide the best ideas to our readers.

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