Archive for December, 2009

Be Kind to the Candidates

December 3, 2009

I wrote this post during the height of the most recent financial crisis and the resultant deep cuts to the workforce.  I believe it is still highly relevant.

The voice mail was waiting for me when I woke up on one of the proudest days of my life.  I was in Virginia to witness my older son take the oath that made him an officer in the U.S. Air Force, when I picked up the message informing me that my flight had been cancelled.  The airline provided a sincerely recorded apology and invited me to call to make new arrangements.  There were no details or explanations for the cancelled flight, and no alternatives as all the other New York bound flights were sold out.

My feelings of joy and anticipation were quickly replaced by the anxiety and stress that comes with lacking any influence, information or control over one’s situation.  Fortunately, my extremely capable assistant was able to make the multiple phone calls and Internet searches that put me on another flight.  After the ceremony, I again checked my voicemail before boarding and listened to my messages, including several from candidates and unsolicited job seekers.  Once on board, I found myself thinking about the parallels between my experiences that day, and the situations of many of the people who had called me.

As the deep recession continues, candidates and job seekers are increasingly anxious.  Many of those who are employed are concerned about job security.  Those who are seeking employment are stressed by their lack of control or influence on the hiring process.  They crave information, updates and sometimes, guidance and support. As a retained search consultant, I understand the privileges and obligations that come with working for clients that hire us to represent them in the marketplace.  I also understand that candidates, like passengers on commercial flights, sometimes endure terrible experiences marked by sudden changes, little information and no recourse.

Today, more than ever, I believe it is imperative for all executive search professionals to provide candidates and unsolicited job seekers the same respect, responsiveness and professionalism that we afford our clients.  We deal with human beings who are experiencing significant stress as they vie for a limited number of employment opportunities. Whether you call it the Golden Rule or good business, it ultimately benefits all of us when we are kind to the candidates.