The passive candidate. We assign a “better” label to those not necessarily looking for a new job. They don’t have the “maintenance” of the active candidate perhaps unemployed – for a while. Candidly, we do not judge them like we do the others.
Yesterday I had an interview prep conversation with a passive candidate. Here is a glimpse… He says, “The 30-minute commute is something I am really going to have to look at.” I said (non-confrontational tone), “Ya know, maybe we should just cancel the interview?” He says, “Maybe we should?”
We sort all that out and rather than go verbatim with more quotation marks, let me get to the good stuff. He offers this pearl of wisdom, “It is all about hunger, isn’t it?” I could not have agreed more and discerned quickly – he is career fat and job happy enough. No hunger pangs at all. So…. what are we going to do today, Mr. Passive? Are we going to be Mr. Curious or Mr. What Have You Got For Me? (yawn, lay back, prop feet up on conference room table)
Allow me to provide the answer – Curiosity is the key interview ingredient. Curiosity brings engagement and damn near momentary enthusiasm. As candidate short is the market is, hiring managers still want someone who is at least interested in the job. They want someone who is interested in solving their issues, optimizing their processes, improving their culture not someone rocking a “Meh” mindset. This interview needs you, Bruh. Don’t just show up for a bottled water and a tour of the facility.
STAY HUNGRY, MY FRIEND
Yes, it is great to interview when you do not NEED the gig but how do you shift into hunger mode? Here are 5 things to get you closer to hungry:
- PRE-PREP: Take a minute to reflect when you were hungry and wanted/needed to make a job change.
- PREP: Think interesting professional conversation, not interview. Develop better questions to ask to make interviewers think.
- INTERVIEWING: Remember THEIR issues are more important than YOUR wish list (at this point). Engaged posture, please.
- QUESTIONS: Focus questions on the job, the first 90 days to 6 months, the culture, the department, the boss’s management style and vision.
- ANSWERS: You know the most valuable answer is always “I have done that before.” Share those examples with brevity.
You know this whole interview process thing is a game, right? Play It Well. Leverage your passive status to be more You and less you trying to get this job – because you can be. Maybe they don’t judge you the same way as active folks but they still judge. Their judgments center around unasked questions like, “Is this guy really interested?” and “Am I wasting my time here?” and “I wonder if he really wants to make a change?” If you don’t play, they default to the negative answers to those questions. Don’t even let them go there.
You can be a passive candidate and an active interviewer. Engage and play well today, Mr. Curious Interesting Conversational With Brevity and Damn Near Enthusiastic.
The Ghost Of Thoughtfulness Present Appears
The ghosts are loose, and they are real. These ghosts are savvy – they appear as qualified, recruitable flesh and blood. They respond with a high level of alleged interest and engage as if their career timing is ideal. I mean – you feel fortunate to be talking with them. Hell, I work alone, and I am almost looking over my shoulder to see if another recruiter is eavesdropping on my conversation with this find.
They send their resume like they said they would. You set up an interview. This is seamless. We fall in love with recruiting all over again. Then… it begins… you receive a highly-detailed text canceling the interview. You optimistically attempt to reschedule, but no response will come. Poof! They are gone. He could have dropped a ghost emoji in there to say “Thanks.”
Truth is – the ghosting candidate has to live vicariously through the recruiter. It gives them life and causes us to analyze every interaction we had along the way. “What did I miss?” We discount it with explanations – “I mean, Really?! But I discerned that he was viable…. we talked about career details…critical junctures they had…boss traits they loathe…I invested, and this is what I get?” Eventually, you begin to feel better with reasons. “Well, I was on the phone, and I couldn’t see his breath. I didn’t get to shake his cold, dead career hand.”
Maybe a little revenge sets in – “Why does my nice recruiting desk have to turn into a Ouija board to summon the Spirit of the Opportunistic?” My poor emotional intelligence takes over, and I feel better after plotting what I can do to quietly and negatively impact their career. I may still inadvertently call his boss for a reference. Oooops! No, No. I wouldn’t do that. I take the High Road exit to the corner of Long Memory Lane and DBag Street – where I write this post to make me feel better and provide content for you. I am feeling better, btw.
Then it happens again. The same role, same client, same everything. Not again! These are not the unvetted resumes of hacks – these are career-minded people. But then – it happens – I swear I heard a choir sing – I get this gem from the 2nd ghost:
Andy, I apologize for not being with my phone and getting back to you yet. I have decided to stay where I’m currently positioned. I took a hard look at what I’m doing for our company and where I’m looking to move and have decided to stay with (company) and move to their California facilities. I appreciate all the hard work you put into getting me recognized by the company and apologize for the inconvenience this puts both of you in. If I decide to move back and an opportunity arises with you involved I would be greatly appreciative to work with you again. Also if I find anyone that I know of that could fill the role they are looking for, I will definitely refer them to talk with you. Thanks again, (The Ghost of Thoughtfulness Present)
Those words from that guy will be remembered by this recruiter as that ghost returns to mortal status. But the other ghost? I won’t forget about the other ghost, but I will decide if I get to be his Ghost Of Recruiter Past, for there is a dark side to the hidden job market – where the paranormal, human resources, and offers you thought you were going to get – collide. No, No. What I am saying here? I wouldn’t do that. That’s not me. Is it?
The Best Referral Email
I have been blessed to have many clients refer me to colleagues, friends and family and I am grateful for all of them. However, this email exceeded my expectations because no one has EVER captured the essence of my brand like these words from this great client.
I thought it best to eliminate the names on this one though and I think you will see why. Feel free to cut and paste this when you refer me to someone though. I would be happy AF if you did.
Back Home Again And More Relevant (Reflections on NPA Denver 2015)
Fresh back home from the Mile High City with a higher level of thinking, the 2015 NPA Conference did not disappoint. Insightful speakers, inflatable monkeys, plenty of networking time, new connections and reconnections, great sponsors, “A-Ha” moments and a new NPA benefit – A recharged recruiting relevance.
Relevance? Really? Let’s discuss relevance from slightly higher than 5,280 feet for a second. As an independent recruiter, you don’t have the time to maintain your continuing education in relevance. Where you gonna get that trending stuff? Tapes on your Walkman? Past, dusty issues of that industry letter thing that – are they still publishing that?
One epiphany I had, mid-meeting, was the added benefit of attending – recruiting relevance. Bill Boorman and Johnny Campbell armed with affirming trends and a few warnings for the industry along with effective tools for your day-to-day work. Gary Harvey with Sandler training people pay a fortune for and Barb Bruno helping you simplify your desk – a solid lineup there for the perspective taking.
Another takeaway, I found myself listening to people introduce themselves in Trading Group sessions – asking myself – “How can I work with these people more?’ “How can I work with that person more?” Would I do that if I wasn’t there? I had to be there. I had to be there to have a takeaway.
I owed Dave Nerz a blog post centered around a trust or… better said – a lack of trust conversation I had recently with another affiliate. I finished that post in Denver. Being a part of a split network, you have to have an element of trust with your affiliates, right? You need to start with trust actually. Before you start though you need to show up and do something at some NPA thing somewhere, somehow – much easier to start with trust when I can see you, hear you, allow you to buy me a beverage on Thursday, reciprocate on Friday and uncover something resembling likemindedness.
As I wait for the rest of the Complete John Denver Collection to download – let me say – certainly many of you had excused absences and hated to miss the meeting (and we missed your unique contribution) – this post is one guy’s opinion and I’m not intending to preach but encourage you to celebrate your recruiting independence in Washington, DC in 2016.
Andy Gregory, NPA 3590