(Don’t) pour some sugar on me

This one is for all you corporate recruiters and hiring managers: your company is not perfect. I don’t care how many times you have made the #1 spot on whatever “Best Places to Work” list, or how low your turnover is, or how happy everyone seems – every organization has warts. Sure, some warts are bigger than others, and yes, some warts have hair growing out of them, but every company has warts in some shape or size. Yet, when we are interviewing, we tell people how great it is going to be if they join us, how well everyone gets along, how office politics don’t apply to us, how much everyone loves to come to work every day, and how we wish we didn’t have to go home at night. But what are we really accomplishing when we do this? Are we increasing our odds of getting the right candidate or are we simply filling holes? Are we looking for the best fit or are we managing to a number? We may get some great folks, but the truth is, it is a gamble as to whether or not they are going to fit in with your organization.

Now, let’s say we are talking to people and we lay ourselves bare. “Look, this is a great place to work, but we have some warts. We have been losing market share, and as a result we have had to shake things up. People are in different roles than they were before, and others have been exited from the company. This position is open because the person who was here before wasn’t a good fit. Further, once we fill this role, we will likely restructure again and there are a few people who will either be in entirely different positions, or will not be with the company. What I am looking for is someone who is willing to come in and roll their sleeves up and help move us forward. We can, and will turn things around, and I hope you are the kind of person who can do that.”

If you go with door number 2, you are going to have more people tell you something along the lines of either: they are going to stay where they are at or this is not the place for them, but thanks for taking the time to chat. It is going to hurt sometimes because some of those folks will have interviewed well, and/or came highly recommended, and/or had a great resume, and/or etc. but they will not have been a good fit in the long run. They would have come on under false pretenses and yes, you would have filled a void, ticked a box, reduced a number, but how long before the new wears off and you are looking at that same void, unticked box, or increased number? Or worse, you are looking at a disengaged employee who is no longer excited at the prospect of a new job but rather wondering what they got themselves into…

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