Don't Make This Hiring Mistake

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After weeks, maybe months, of searching for what you consider to be the ideal addition to your staff, the recruiter sends over a resume that looks, well, it looks perfect. But despite setting up an interview, learning the candidate would have a 15-minute commute, discovering your interviewee knows her stuff and scheduling a second interview, she says, "No thanks, I'm going to accept another position."

What happened?

What happened is you didn't sell your company. Sometimes, management is too time-strapped to articulate the finer points of working at the company. But other times it's just unfortunate arrogance: I don't need to sell the company; she's lucky to have an interview.

Here's a real-life example: A computer scientist with a small degree of managerial experience, was out of work for several months, but recently was seeing a flurry of interest in her very distinguished vitae. According to midyear research from TechAmerica, which was based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, shows that through June 2011, the U.S. high-tech industry showed signs of slowly coming out of the global economic downturn by adding jobs. The industry added 115,000 net jobs between January and June of 2011, a 2.0 percent increase, for an industry total of 5.89 million jobs. During the same period of 2010 the industry added 21,700 net jobs, or 0.4 percent.

For my friend, the job opportunity was exciting: Work close to home, upgrading systems at a firm that got rave reviews for its company culture. The technology was familiar and it was a project at which she could accel. Or so she thought.

The job description the company gave the recruiter was literally one sentence. And the Saturday phone interview was, in her words, "a puff ball." But she was able to discern enough from it to believe she wanted to pursue it -- although she'd been offered a more lucrative offer by a major corporation paying her thousands more. The location and the work were so appealing it would be worth considering. So my friend was honest with the recruiter -- she said she had another offer in-hand, but wanted to pursue this opportunity, because it sounded interesting both professionally and personally.

Hours later, after a second interview was set, the recruiter forwarded a note from the firm's hiring manager to my friend that said to cancel the interview if the candidate was going to be "a decliner." In other words: "Don't waste my time."

Aside from the fact that the recruiter should never, ever, have forwarded the note from the hiring manager, companies with that attitude, can't expect to bring someone onboard "this week," as this firm continued to signal to the recruiter. My friend wasn't interested in wasting anyone's time -- hers or theirs. She wanted to make the best decision by weighing all options, and already had plenty of opportunity to exercise her interviewing skills during the past few months, thank you very much.

Companies have become used to having the pick of the litter during the last two going on three years, and some, it seems, have gotten arrogant. What is the point of a phone interview on a Saturday to ask questions that pretty much equate to "Can you make toast?" Who's wasting whose time? And there was no invitation for an in-person interview -- remember, it's only 15 minutes for the candidate to drive there. A face-to-face meeting, with a tour of the facility, a personal appeal to join the corporate "family" can make a considerable impression.

Finally, the company just rolled over at the thought of having to sell itself to my friend. It seems the employer here had forgotten that not so long ago, the interview process was two ways: The candidate was interviewing the employer as well. Too many companies are taking an attitude that the employee should be grateful to have any job. There needs to be some recognition that employees make the company successful -- or not.

If you're looking to hire, don't blow your opportunity. Don't waste your time with unqualified candidates, but don't waste suitable prospects' time either by being unresponsive, vague or snarky. There is still a ways to go, with regional and state unemployment rates generally little changed or slightly lower in October, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Employees need to put their best foot forward and consider positions that until recently didn't seem like they were in their wheelhouses. And companies need to be upfront about what type of employee they are looking for, and consider being flexible. In fact, many CRN Fast Growth companies have said they have continued to hire this year and that investing in headcount is critical to their success.

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