“Selling” the opportunity to candidates = a big red flag

“Selling” the opportunity to candidates = a big red flag

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Yeah, I’ll be the one to say it. If your team has to rely on an outside source to “sell” job seekers on your company and/or your job postings – you’re in trouble. On the other side of the equation, if you are a job seeker and someone outside the company has to call you and act like a used car salesman, that’s a red flag. I know that’s gonna offend a lot of people in third-party recruiting but I don’t care. I think people deserve to know the truth.

I remember the last time I bought a car, I had to go through the weird dog-and-pony show of dealing with the Finance Manager. I felt like the terms he offered sucked and after I’d had enough, I got my coat and my purse and headed for the door. At that point, he said, “I hate to pull this line, I guess, but: what’s it gonna take for me to get you in this car today?” For me, the same energy exists when you need someone else outside the company to convince job seekers to come work for you. What’s it gonna take for me to get you in this job today? For all the hell they take in generational clickbait, I feel like the younger Millennials and Gen Zers have figured out that the job seeking process is and has been woefully broken. On top of that, look at how many scams and con artists are floating around. Some rando calls you one day and says, “What’s it gonna take for me to get you in this job” how legit does that sound? Yet trying to explain this to managers who are stuck in “this is how we recruited 10 years ago” is like battering your head against a wall.

What’s more enticing to a potential candidate: outreach from someone who’s asking you to audition for the chance to talk to an HR rep at a company or hearing from the actual company itself? I mean… this is not rocket science, folks. For a long time, this idea of the discreet shoulder tap worked. It absolutely did, and I know that when a particular strategy has worked really well for a long time, it can be difficult to let it go. The bad thing, however, is that you and your company can go totally broke trying to hang on to the past. The routine went something like this:

You have a great resume/skill set and I wanted to reach out to you on behalf of my client (name may or may not have been disclosed). Would you have time to talk about this? 

Your name came up in a meeting today and it made me eager to talk to you. I’ve heard some really great things about you and I’d love to have a conversation to speak in more detail. 

Back in the 90s and 00s, those tactics worked. Now? 😆

So what to do instead:

Accept that times change. 
If you’re still recruiting the way you did 10 years ago, you’re grossly out of date. For that matter, if you’re still recruiting the way you did pre-Covid, you’re grossly out of date. You have to adapt, improvise, and overcome. There’s no other option.

Take a realistic appraisal of what you have to offer.
Do your salary ranges suck? Are you pushing hard for RTO or a hybrid schedule when most candidates in your industry do not want that? Are your benefits actually competitive? Do you offer so-called unlimited PTO but then get mad when someone needs a day off?

Does your culture suck?
For all the blathering about company culture and togetherness, there are plenty of companies with toxic environments. And they love to act like it’s everyone else’s fault and they are perfect. Get real! In my experience, if a company is adamant that they cannot recruit on their own and that they need a third-party person to “sell” an opportunity to job seekers, I have serious, deep questions about what the environment is like in that place. If you have something awesome to offer, you don’t need the used car salesman routine.

Do you actually prioritize hiring and treat candidates with a sense of humanity?
Another facet of this is seeing the job seekers as, you know, HUMAN BEINGS. Does your hiring funnel function well and does each step make sense? Do you leave candidates hanging with no answers? Are you posting descriptions with no salary range and vague information? Do you expect a candidate to sit through multiple garish Zoom interviews before they get an answer? Do you feel like you need a third-party to talk to people ahead of you because you don’t want to “waste your time” with the process?


If your process is broken, you have to get real and be willing to fix it.

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