Mildred L. Culp WorkWise column.
What is a company’s biggest recruiting nightmare? It may be offering a job to applicants armed with a key survival technique learned in bad economies: The minute you have an inkling that a job isn’t going to work out -- for whatever reason -- duck out. If you’ve been there less than a year, you needn’t include the job on your resume.
This situation can become an expensive nightmare to companies. Arlene Vernon of HRx Inc., in Eden Prairie, Minn., comments, “The greatest nightmares I see regularly involve a candidate accepting a job, all applicants being notified of the acceptance and then, on the starting day, no employee showing up.” On one temporary assignment, she watched a company invest months in seeking and hiring a favored candidate, who completed the first day of training. Then disaster struck: “That night she received another job offer for more money,” Vernon says, “and called the next morning, declining to return.”
Mary Wong, president and managing partner at HRizen Solutions L.L.C., in Houston, recalls a company in Louisiana wooing a prospective account supervisor mightily to assure a new multi-million dollar account. After the new hire agreed, the firm secured the account, only to hear via telephone a few days before the woman’s starting date that “new baby issues” were causing her to renege. Wong saved the account by negotiating with the runner-up and dealing with an unhappy client.
Are job seekers repaying employers for bad practices? Or are they simply protecting themselves as employers do? Applicants and companies seem to be participating in a longstanding, self-serving culture of cynicism. Identifying and blaming one side for launching the practice is totally irrelevant at this point, because both sides are perpetuating it.
Costs to employers can run in the tens of thousands of dollars. Job seekers also pay a hefty price, particularly when they practically have to call in the sheriff to learn what the company is doing (or has already done). Anguish over not knowing can be incalculable among those without work or those working in impossible environments.
Lawrence Stuenkel is senior partner at outplacement firm Lawrence & Allen Inc., headquartered in Greenville, S.C. The company, with offices in Chicago and Milwaukee, assists about 7,500 candidates annually.
Stuenkel believes that companies don’t teach people to bring closure to applicants who aren’t selected. Observing as well as conducting outplacement for 25 years has led to a “modus operandi (that) is no communication.” Worst of all, he adds, are recruiters and executive search personnel, who don’t “make money on the rejection part ... (requiring) effort to pick up the phone and track down the candidate.”
“Electronic mail and voice mail are easy ways to hide,” Stuenkel continues. “We don’t have rules of the road for Internet.” Or for recruiting, it seems.
What can job seekers do to reverse these practices? Stuenkel is a proponent of taking immediate action. “Go and politely decline the offer, both orally and in writing,” he states. “Keep those bridges. You never know what’s down the road.” He’s watched applicants decline companies, followed by the employers returning with a better offer.
Sometimes, according to Beverly, who requested that her last name be omitted, the best response to a horrible hiring climate is finding an even better situation than the one that fell apart. After the recruiter who recommended her for a position in a biomedical company stole that position, she landed a position she loves at a hospital in Long Island. “This really taught me something,” she says, “especially after the 9/11 tragedy.”
Dr. Mildred Culp, an award-winning journalist, also writes two syndicated columns -- WorkWise Interactive, on youth employment, and the classic WorkWise, on emerging workplace trends. Contact her at 708-672-1300 or email@example.com. Copyright 2007 Passage Media.