For Wisdom in Your Professional Choices

Why Listening to Your Applicant Makes All The Difference -
Sub-Chapter for Recruiters


The beauty of being a recruiter for 30 years is that you never stop learning. And sometimes even after the all the experience and training I have had, I continue to learn new lessons. I was hit on the head recently to remember how very important listening is. I had an applicant we will call Tom. Tom was a racehorse candidate that had all the ingredients of a successful placement. I had placed Tom twice in the last l5 years, and I thought I really knew this young man and what his needs were. Well, as we all know, people are a variable product and like all of us their needs change. Tom had an MBA, had a successful career as a sales representative where he had progressed up the Vice President ranks. I always felt Tom had the right stuff to promote into a President of a company, if he was positioned correctly in the right organization. I had an opportunity on my desk that had the potential to allow Tom to move into a President role. He had been with his last company for 7 years, and when a new President came in, he let all senior management go and brought his own team in to handle the executive level positions. Tom was given a nice severance package and called me to place him in another job. When Tom told me what he was looking for, he also told me he couldn't take a huge cut as he was in the process of building a new home. He said he had started the plans before he left his current job, and was in too deep to reverse the process. He had already put much money into this project and they had already broken ground.

The position I presented Tom on was a Director level which would eventually replace the President as he would be retiring in a few years. The starting salary was somewhat lower than what Tom had been making, but the potential for Tom was huge here. His salary could have easily been doubled. But not right away. I sent this candidate on the interview for this Director role, and the President fell in love with him. He knew what he had been making, but wanted to start him out at a somewhat lower salary, as he didn't have directly related industry experience and he would have to learn the product. The product was in a similar industry but was different and was sold to a different market. Tom would have to learn the market segment and establish new relationships. His skills were very transferrable, and I knew he could learn in a short amount of time. He had no industry related experience in his last role, and had taken the company to amazing profits that they had never had before. We worked out a trial period for him to examine the role and products and we all knew it would be a test experience. Well, I had high hopes that it would work. It did not, however. And now looking back, I realize I wasn't really listening to what this candidate needed. And he needed it right now. The red flags were all over the place, and I was focusing on who this candidate was in the past. I wasn't looking at who he was today, and not focusing on what he needed right now. What he needed right now was a salary that would allow him to handle his current financial obligation. Potential and the ability to make a huge salary in years to come wouldn't do the trick for this candidate. He had to take a job with a salary in line with what he was used to making.

Potential was not an important ingredient in the mix at this time. I wasn't listening. And it came back to bite me in the behind. I went for about a week without hearing from this candidate, and when I checked in with him, I had found out he had received an offer at a bit more than he had been making in his job of 7 years thru a previous customer. They were opening an office in the United States out of Europe, and needed a racehorse to get his new division off the ground. The chance for him to be President would probably never happen here. It was a family business and all senior management positions would go to their internal framework of people. But Tom wasn't focused on potential right now . His focus was to be able to afford this big investment, and not losing all the money he had already put down. He didn't have the luxury to wait it out for a big cheese role of President role down the road. So I suppose what I learned is what this entire book is about. We need to look at the whole person, and focus on who they are right now are not on a resume or past accomplishments. This was an expensive lesson for me, that is for sure. But as my mother always told me, some of the best lessons in life are those that are the toughest and end up costing us something, whether financially, emotionally or physically. Make sure you listen to your candidate, and don't focus on the past. It will end up costing you big time. I'm sure my ears are going to be extra sharp in the future! This was a good lesson, and it drove the message in this book into me very hard. Listen to your applicant and focus on who they are today, not on what they were in the past and what you want their needs to be. Their needs right now have to be top priority.

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