Be Kind to the Candidates

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.

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7 Responses to “Be Kind to the Candidates”

  1. Cary Says:

    Robert, I completely agree and your compassion will provide a point of differences that will set you above and apart from the competition. I like your writing style! Keep up the blog. I’ll continue to read it….

  2. Leslie Grossman, Women's Leadership Exchange Says:

    What a timely commentary, Robert, and a great story to illustrate your point.
    One of the key qualities of a leader is their willingness and ability to communicate effectively to their constituents. That means not shutting down in the midst of a crisis. In fact, a crisis, like the recession, requires that leaders be communicating more frequently. People are more effective when they know what’s going on in their business and hearing it from the boss, not the rumor-mill, is critical.

  3. Susan Solovic Says:

    Robert,
    Very insightful and well-written. It’s been a very long time since I’ve been in a job hunt, but I remember the anxiety I felt waiting and waiting and waiting for answers. Taking the time to keep candidates, customers, clients, anyone who touches our business, updated with truthful and timely information is a sign of respect and quite simply — good business.

    I look forward to reading more of your posts.

  4. Mark Schnurman Says:

    Well done. You should be very proud of your son.

  5. Mary Elizabeth Lenahan Says:

    Thank you, Bob, for recognizing that we all need a little extra consideration every day. I just got an e-mail (from Jonathan & Walt) whose friend Jim Rohn said: “We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline
    or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.” I think this translates into keep trying to make this world a better place.

    What do you think? If we “suffer” the disciplines of consideration, compassion, and kindness in our daily dealings, we can reduce “pain”!

  6. Mark Says:

    Truly well said. Regardless of what business we are in, we are ultimately all in the service business. As the man said “we all have to serve somebody”. Whether we are serving clients, distributors, students, patients, prospects, the key is to keep in mind how we would like to be treated were we to be in their shoes.

  7. Steven Pisarkiewicz Says:

    Bob: a most appropriate reminder in these challenging economic times. I was struck by the fact that while we live in an age of widespread electronic connectivity (cell phones, text messaging, e-mails and now “tweets”), we don’t seem to be as responsive to others in need as these tools allow. It’s a curious thing.

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