This week I stumbled on an article that asked men, "Is She a Keeper?" The article began with the claim that while many women have problems finding the 'right man' they are in fact experts at spotting the 'wrong woman' for their male friends. Debatable for sure - but it did get the old RecruiterGuy wheels turning with a quick comparison to the courtship between a job seeker and an employer. C'mon... you knew it would, right?
So as a professional in the industry I'll play the role of the woman that can't find a man, but that has the inate ability to butt into your life and profess to know what's best for you. Let's pretend that my goal is to help you get clear of that hottie by the pool (that I'm certain is a Fatal Attraction in the making) and get you to realize that the girl next door could be your perfect match if you'll just do a bit of listening and homework.
So as to not feel my manhood threatened by my impromptu role of "busybody girlfriend" I'll use a reference to baseball to layout some quick guidelines. After all, baseball (although my least favorite sport) is full of tough guys. This combined with the fact that "3 strikes" is also a hard core felon reference should keep my machismo intact.
Strike 1 - "But I barely know you..."
Everyone loves the feeling we get when someone is pursuing our affection/attention. Of course, there aren't too many people that I know of that would accept a date with someone whom they'd never even met knew nothing about - When is the last time you accepted a date JUST because someone had a cool name, huh? The same carries over - why would anyone accept an interview request without knowing a bit about the job opportunity in question?
Vague job descriptions and the inability to give specific details about a job's responsibilities and average work expectations should be a huge red flag. Typically a recruiter knows what the qualifications are for the job they are recruiting for - it is after all, more than likely how someone determined you as a possible match - but if you should find yourself in a conversation where the spokesperson for the job can't give you functional information about the title in question - get the heck outta' that ill-prepared conversation, my friend.
Strike 2 - "Why can't I meet your family?"
It's easy to ask your friend about a friend that you're interested in or that you heard was interested in you. So why should it be so difficult to ask about the personality of the company or organization that is courting you?
While not everyone can boast the corporate culture that Google has established or communicated so well that it's common knowledge - no one should be evasive about their corporate heartbeat. Okay... maybe they should - but it should be something else that as a job seeker you should be listening for.
Asking about an item such as turnover (generally of course - don't expect data points) is completely acceptable. Asking how long this job may have been open and probing a bit if you discover that it's the 4th time in a calendar year that the chair is empty might reveal some information you'd like to know.
Strike 3 - "We just don't talk anymore..."
The courtship is going well and you've met the family - but suddenly your new love interest just isn't sharing their feelings anymore. And they're hard to reach. And they aren't calling you back. It's time to dump them.
The number one complaint, in my opinion, as to why people hate recruiters is related to the lack of communication and follow up. If the company or recruiter isn't providing you with feedback on how well your interview went - even when you directly ask - be alarmed.
If the interviewer told you, "We'll let you know," but no one is letting you know - it's okay to call and ask. But no one should have to call over and over again. The issue or delay may be completely out of the recruiter or interviewers hands, but it's a bad sign of internal communications should you receive a response relative to, "I don't know why we aren't calling you." or, "I don't know - I really thought they'd like you." or even worse - no call back at all.
I could almost write a complete chapter on each strike listed here - and if anyone took the time to look, I'm sure there are books dedicated to the topic. Take these quickie tips with you the next time you get that call or that courtship begins. Job seekers, both active and passive, should be prepared for a conversation relative to being pursued for employment and not just pursuing it.
Flip the tables - ask questions that make sense and are relative. A good employer or interviewer will recognize your goal and should appreciate your wanting to make an informed decision in moving from courtship to relationship. After all, it's only the potential Fatal Attraction types that are evasive, right?