It's Saturday morning and I'm reflecting on my past week .....

I've been dealing with candidates and clients. Each have their own issues about 'getting through' - and that's when I realised we're stuck in a mindset (at least here in the UK). Most organisations and people are now trying just to 'get through', survive if you like, rather than striving for something better or bigger.

OK. The media have been talking about market confidence for a while, but I suspect we've now been in a crisis of confidence for so long it's becoming a habit among all of us. We're walking into a world where inertia is the fail-safe; where trying not to make mistakes means we don't make decisions so nothing can go wrong.

In my world of recruitment I can see this from two perspectives:


There's no doubt that their responses to circumstances are very different to, say, 5 years ago. Organisations looking for people are much narrower in their focus. This manifests itself in many ways:

  • Sector specific experience is now a must. New candidates must come with an active and relevant network. Transferable skills are now a turn-off rather than regarded as some pep and spice that will add something to the mix.
  • Longer experience is now required. 5 years is now the norm. From my perspective, searches are becoming narrower and more challenging because the specification is getting tighter and tighter. This is understandable to some extent where there are more candidates than jobs, but it ignores some excellent people who could move across sectors because of their bright and open minds.
  • Because there are more candidates, clients tend to expect longer shortlists. Three candidates was the norm, but having presented three, clients are hesitating on making the offer, "just in case there's something better just round the corner". They then delay a decision, lose the moment, and the original candidates go cold on the thought of working for a over-cautious employer.
  • Having seen the shortlist once, the employer then has to justify their decision internally. More people get involved in the decision-making process. There are more interviews. Everybody has earnest discussions about the candidate....time moves on.....somebody goes on holiday....a crisis happens elsewhere in the organisation.... the candidate thinks "bugger this for a game of soldiers" and accepts another offer.
  • The organisation makes a verbal offer. The candidate is cock-a-hoop. (I am cock-a-hoop - this has been a bloody hard search). Meanwhile, somebody in the bowels says they're not ready. The project is behind target. So rather than see the new candidate as a new resource to help play catch-up, they withdraw the offer and ask the candidate to hang around for two months. THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED!!!! 2 weeks these organisations just think that talented people will sit on their hands while they dither? I'm afraid they do - and I'm afraid it's often HR who are the driving force behind such odd behaviour.


More strange and odd behaviours here - sometimes some very odd!

  • A candidate decides (or is forced) to look for a new position. Without thinking, they write, or update, their CV. Volumes of it...nothing is left out...just in case... But they've heard it has to be 2 pages long and it's now 5 pages long, so they move out the margins, reduce the font size and get it to 3 pages. "That'll do...."                                      Oh no it won't!
  • Rather than give their search focus, they don't want to miss out on any opportunity "Just in case". They also don't want to stand out in a crowd "Just in case". Their approach becomes tortured and muddled - but they're not going to put anybody off - trouble is, they're going to attract nobody either...
  • Finally, they manage to get some interviews (if you throw enough mud, some of it is bound to stick I s'pose). Most often they do quite of lot of research on the company and learn the item number of every product. They focus on the detail and the overall rationale gets lost. The interview ends up being a pigs breakfast.
  • Actually, I'm a headhunter, so often approach people who are not looking for a move. These days, people are often motivated to stick with what they have, rather than look to a new opportunity. They're driven by the devil they know. Later, they'll regret it.
  • The candidate gets rejected (look it's nothing personal! - if you're on one of my shortlists, you've already done very well - I may have spoken to sixty people in the process so far). Rather than look to learn from the experience, the first reaction is 'Is it because I'm under 30/over 40/50/60?". Most often, they blame 'the system' or 'the recruiter' and fail to learn some lessons. They get stuck in a cycle of decline and become victims. They become unpleasant and negative. Not the sort to have around at all. Yuk.


These behaviours were always around, but they're becoming more common, and from my perspective, becoming the norm rather than the exception. We're sleep-walking into a bland oblivion where the first objective is not to make a mistake or upset anybody.

If the wind changes we'll get stuck like this (as my mum used to say). The only people who are going to get us out of this are us. We can't wait for the government or the system to change. Each of us has to be conscious of our mind-set or we'll be stuck here forever.

Is that what you want?


(Image courtesy of

Views: 124

Comment by Sam Evans on April 10, 2013 at 11:03am

Like it Martin and yes, it's all true!


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