Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Adventures In Recruiting: The Non-Cover Letter And The Non-Résumé

I recently had a good laugh.  A person – I didn’t initially know if it was a man or a woman – sent me a direct email with a long introduction telling me how wonderful and successful he or she was. It was filled with platitudes but I could tell nothing about the sender.  Here is the email in its entirety.

      Searching for a Management position has been elusive.[No wonder. Look how he has gone about it.] 
            1.   I am currently employed at a great company, and am a top producer.  This company, however, has   a "no look" policy...They don't want their employees actively looking elsewhere. [Does any company?]
            2.   The job boards have been somewhat useless.  The majority of the responses I get are from MLM companies. [What is MLM?] 
3.   I am looking for a place where I can grow in a company that is a leader in it's [sic] field.
            4.   The company that I am currently with is looking to centralize within the next two years out of their HQ...and I don't plan on moving to where their headquarters is...at least not for this job.

     I am an excellent leader within my company, and I would like to help lead job to greatness.

     I PROMISE to impress your clients with my drive, determination and my skills.     

There was a link to the résumé. The only problem was that when I looked at it, there was also nothing.  No name, no address, no cell and no company names. All were marked “Confidential.”  There were more platitudes about achievements.

There were no titles either.  In fact, everything was written in such a manner as to obscure what he/she did and where it was done.  There were dates, but little other information other than to say things like, “Extremely successful in building relations” and other generic language – “Increased revenues.”  After reading this non-résumé, I had no idea even what business he/she was in.  Then I looked at his email address, it was equally funny: yournextsalesleader@gmail.com {changed to protect the guilty).  Well, then I knew she/he was in sales, but still no idea what kind of sales.

I emailed to say that I had never seen such a solicitation.  He emailed me back, this time with his real email and said, “There are very good reasons for not providing my name or [specific background/résumé].  I totally understand that this is unconventional…there are many ways to skin the [sic] cat.  My goal is to generate interest and not to send a [complete résumé] until I know who you are.”  At least from his personal email I could figure out it was a he not a she.  He still did not send a resume or tell me what he did.

He went on to explain that he was being secretive because he didn’t want his current employer to find out that he was looking.  Fear of being found out is very common and very fair. However, then one should not do a mass email blast. I had a good laugh because being so completely and totally anonymous is absurd.

Hmmm.  I wonder if anyone seriously responded to him. I imagine not.  I am sure his search is still elusive.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Should Companies Have Junior People Interview Senior Candidates?

More and more, I am seeing companies who are hiring senior executives having their subordinate  people meet with candidates during the interview process.  In most cases I am told that this is because the more junior people are long-term, trusted employees and they want to be sure they are good with the hire.  One client said to me, “We are a close knit family here and I want to be sure the new person meshes with the group.” 

It is a good idea, but it can be a double edged sword.

While an account director may not have the ability to hire a group account director, they can influence the decision.  Recently, we had a group account director candidate who met with an account supervisor who would be reporting to her.  The first interview, with the head of account management, went well enough so that the candidate then met with the supervisor who would be reporting to her. It appeared to be an innocuous twenty minute meeting.

The account supervisor dinged the potential employee.  By telling the hiring manager she did not like her new potential boss, she put the manager in a position where should could not easily hire this person. What she told her manager was that she felt that the candidate was somewhat condescending; she also thought the candidate was dull.  Was she?  Or was the supervisor just uncomfortable with a new person coming between her and the existing director.  That is the chance a company takes in this situation. 

Junior people, who are the ones who do the day-to-day work, have a good perspective on what they need from a potential manager. Their opinion often counts considerably.  No candidate should ever take one of these interviews for granted since people on the team can help to determine if there is good chemistry.  This determination can flag potential future problems. (This is also true of more senior people who are in the interviewing loop, but who may seem irrelevant and the interview is deemed a courtesy - never take these interviews for granted.)

Meeting the team can be good for the senior job applicant as well.  We had one case where a very senior financial person had to interview with a fairly senior person who would be reporting to her.  During the lunch a number of issues came up. The result was that the candidate felt that the person who would be reporting to her lacked certain knowledge which she felt should be known by a person at her level in this position. I discussed this with the hiring manager who confessed to me that he knew of this issue and was aware of the missing pieces.  He said that the person who lacked knowledge was a long term, loyal employee and the candidate, if hired, would not have the ability to change this person.  Subsequently, the candidate turned the job down feeling that she would have responsibility but no authority.  I believe that for her it was the right choice.

Surprisingly, few candidates ever ask to meet the people they will have working for them.  They also rarely ask to meet the tangential people they will work with. In the case of advertising, account managers rarely ask to meet the planners or creative people who will interact with them on a day-to-day basis.  I recently had a candidate request to meet with these people and the hiring manager was reluctant to allow it to happen because it would merely take more time and delay hiring.  I was able to talk the hiring manager into allowing the meetings and all worked out quite well; the candidate loved the group and the group loved her. However, interviews with the group are the exception rather than the rule. 

Meeting as many people as possible gives potential employees a wide perspective on the company and the job. It also gives the company an equally wide perspective on the candidate.

The more a candidate knows about a company and the more the company knows the candidate, the better the likelihood it will be a good fit and a successful hire.

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