How quickly can the excitement of starting a new role in recruitment turn into despair when you realise that not only is this role not what you expected; it’s completely different to what you heard the role would be during your interview.
This situation is something I’m finding happening more often in the recruitment sector.
Candidates call us in despair that they desperately wanted to get the right role only to find the job described is totally different in reality. Here are my thoughts on why this is happening and how to prevent it.
Why Is It Happening?
I know this may sound simple but our experience is that these situations are occurring due to
a difference in understanding about the meaning of certain words.
Remember, we are living in an age where the pace of change is huge and where we have a multigenerational workforce, both of which contribute towards a difference in understanding of language.
For example, some companies will describe themselves as being ‘corporate’. When I started working, this would mean that the company was a huge national or global business. As a result, these companies would have effective performance management systems and see working with KPI’s as the norm.
Some candidates express a dislike of ‘corporate style’ companies based on their belief that being ‘corporate’ means a company is big and works with KPI’s and the candidate doesn’t want to work for such an organisation. Instead, they describe their ideal company as a ‘small’ business.
However, businesses have evolved and today, many highly successful small or boutique companies as they are often called, use performance management systems and KPI’s in the same way as larger companies.
You can see how easy it would be for a candidate to find themselves in a small, boutique company that is as focused on KPI’s as their previous larger employer. All because they had a different interpretation of what ‘corporate’ and ‘small boutique’ meant.
So, let me now run through a few more of the most common language discrepancies I have noticed recently.
I had a candidate explain recently that they were told that the recruitment company they last applied to had a ‘professional’ culture.
So, what does this mean?
This is a term that means different things to different people from diverse working backgrounds and different age groups.
To some people, it could mean competence, reliability and integrity; to another person, it might mean the way people dress.
Two very different things.
One digital recruiter we work with is professional in how they treat and develop the team, yet tee shirts and lounge pants are the preferred dress code.
You can see now why it’s essential to clarify what the interviewer means - and in detail!
Your idea of a work-life balance may be very different from the hiring manager or the recruitment director you will be working for.
Do they mean only working late on three days per week rather than all five, or does this mean working from home on a Friday?
Or do they mean it’s 7-7 Monday to Thursday and then on Friday it’s an early finish at 5 and everyone heads to the bar?
In many scenarios I have come across I hear, ‘Yes, we totally embrace work-life balance here.’
But their definition was different from what I was thinking!
If they don’t specify, ask!
‘Candidate Attraction and Networking’
Candidate attraction can mean crafting job adverts, marketing and social media management at one end, and cold calling on the other.
Find out precisely what this means if it is mentioned during the interview.
For instance, you could ask a question like; “What do your current recruiters who are fantastic at candidate attraction and networking do to smash through their targets?”
If the role offers networking as part of the job, what kind of networking is it? And how much will you be expected to do?
Networking can mean anything from attending conferences and events to sending out connection requests on LinkedIn and Facebook.
Career development is another phrase with a variety of possible meanings, and unfortunately, it’s used to entice great recruiters to a company without anything of value being in place.
Career development can mean anything from a robust training and development programme to the chance for a candidate to work their way up with minimal support – if they choose.
Does this mean a formal qualification by a recognised recruiting body like REC or APSCo?
Be sure to clarify what career development means in the context of the position you are applying for. This can be a deal-breaker for many candidates wanting to work their way up, so it is crucial to know exactly what this means to you.
This article has highlighted how different recruitment words and phrases can be interpreted. And that’s why it is so important to clarify what they mean in the context of the role you are applying for.
If, at any point during the interview, you are unsure of what the hiring manager is alluding to, use questions to ascertain more detail –
1. ‘What does [X] mean/look like to you?
2. What exactly do you see me doing in this role?
3. Specifically, what [networking/training/career development] will be available to me?
If you have any similar experiences or examples of this happening to you or your colleagues, I’d love to hear them, so get in contact if you’ve got a similar story!
Until next time,