Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Jumping through hoops

Imagine this scenario.....

Hiring Manager
You are looking to hire a candidate, and you know exactly the sort of person you want: skills, experience, "fit" etc. You post the job online, contact recruiters, get the word out, and the resumes start rolling in. In short order, you start the interview process - you're off to a flying start,

A month has now gone by since you started your search. You've interviewed 15 people for the position so far, and you haven't been happy with any of them. For some reason, the background information you got - resume, call with recruiter - looked great on paper but didn't translate into the right candidate. For a technical role, these ineffable qualities might include problem solving ability and the desire to take on challenging tasks. For a marketing role it might include comfort with public speaking and an engaging style of interaction.

What happens next? Invariably, consciously or not, you start lowering your expectations. Your point of reference becomes the last five interview candidates, not your original idea of what you were looking for. The next person that comes along to exceed this lower bar gets the job. They may not be the superstar you had in mind, but they'll probably do an OK job, and you don't have to deal with the hiring process anymore.

Job Seeker
You're stagnating at your job, not being challenged, and you decide its time for a change. You submit your resume to a couple job boards, contact a few recruiters, and sit back and wait for interview calls. You're pretty clear about what you want - the money should be better than your current position, but most of all, you're looking for an intellectual challenge; an interesting problem to solve.

A couple of weeks go by - you've had a bunch of interviews (it is a hot market after all), and you're getting a bit tired of the process. A couple of them didn't go so well - they were looking for someone to work with an offshore team in India, and you didn't relish the idea of a lot of late night phone calls, or you came across an arrogant interviewer who gave you his favorite brain teaser and you weren't able to solve it on the spot, ensuring you wouldn't be called back (you would ordinarily have solved it - it just wasn't your day). You do end up getting a couple of offers, but you're not that excited about them - the pay is only marginally better than your current salary, and the work just doesn't seem that interesting. In fact, your current position doesn't look so bad after all.

Finally, you get tired of the whole process. It wears you out. Consciously or not, you lower your expectations. Your point of reference becomes your current job, not the ideal you had in mind when you started out. You pick the first job that exceeds your lowered expectations.

Does this resonate? Share your stories. This is "HR week" at Developing Innovation. I will look into why the scenarios described in this post happen so often (and there's evidence to suggest that it does) even in a bull market, and what can be done to change it. Please share your thoughts.