Stretch pants and stuck zippers – Pot of Coffee 3

Pot of Coffee 3 went indoors at Good Coffee to escape the wind and rain on Friday the 4th. While we missed the fresh air, it was good to be inside and warm.

Unfortunately, many of the folks that joined us had been recently laid-off. That allowed us to talk about topics related to the job search and gauge everyone’s thoughts on the current hiring climate.

We also covered hard hitting topics like pants and zippers. Stretch pants to hard pants, to prescription pants, to stuck zippers and does clothing differ on which side the zipper is? Apparently, some people don’t know that zippers and buttons are on different sides of clothing depending on gender. But, back to stretch pants and the why? I guess they are comfortable. It was appreciated and noted, of course, that most attendees (spot checks were not done) had bravely left their homes by donning hard pants.

In spite of recent layoffs people are not feeling a ton of pressure or concern about the economy or their job prospects. Some folks were already looking and some saw the warning signs, which lead to a discussion about just how bad companies can be when it comes to employee attraction, retention, and dismissal. If it wasn’t such a serious topic, it would be comical.

One person was contacted by a recruiter at a design agency and eventually received an offer, only to have that offer rescinded.  It turns out the hiring agency and the agency where the person was employed have a “no poaching” agreement since they are both owned by the same holding company. Note to internal recruiters: understand the organization you’re supporting and any limitations before reaching out to candidates.

The warning signs of an impending layoff were visible to an attendee when her manager started asking for the status of projects and pushing for early completions. One person was blindsided but had already decided to leave anyway, so the surprise was also met with relief.

In addition to year-end layoffs we have also entered the “circle back” time of year when many put off responding directly to requests by saying they will need to “circle back” after the end of the year. Whether they do or not is debatable but there is no debating how easy is it to put people off with this response.

While some lamented the need to craft specific resumes for everyone job they applied for, a recruiter offered the “the glow one feels when talking about a role of opportunity they are passionate about” as a solid reason to continue the practice. Of course, you better feel the glow of interest in a job, otherwise applying might be a waste of time.

Hopefully, Pot of Coffee 3 was not.

The staffing industry needs to change

Anyone who has been in staffing/recruiting for awhile knows the feeling when a prospective client asks to see your pricing structure. They not only want to know your profit margins, they want to influence them. You feel invaded and disrespected. What other industry allows the customer to dictate pricing? Clearly there is a gap between the value proposition of staffing firms and client perceptions. It’s time for change.

The industry’s obsession with quotas and making numbers has bred an atmosphere that rightfully draws skepticism from the talent we hope to represent, and the clients we aim to service. We’ve taken on the reputation of used-car salespeople, and are asked to wear badges at networking events like some recruiter scarlet letter. The industry has lost respect, but we have only ourselves to blame.

Circling companies that are hiring and aggressively recruiting talent like sharks with blood in the water communicates an air of desperation. We’ve been pursuing whatever business is available in the market so aggressively that it’s weakened our value, and given way to poor business practices like not vetting the talent we represent (not meeting people face to face? Really?!), pitting competitors against each other in price wars, sending resumes to companies without candidate knowledge or approval, and just generally acting desperate. Now staffing companies are resorting to tactics like sign twirling to attract talent and using roller skating biblical characters to promote themselves. We’ve become the fast food of the employment industry.

I’ve been in and out of the staffing industry since 1993, but my exposure goes even further, having worked through staffing agencies in administrative, light industrial and creative capacities. My first job in staffing was as an outside sales representative for a large national brand. Later I worked inside running a full desk. I’ve worked for four staffing companies and have owned two. With a few exceptions, I’ve seen every company make decisions motivated purely by sales and profits. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Over the years, I’ve met so many great people working in the staffing industry. If there is a common thread of discontent with these people, it usually revolves around their desire to provide relationship-based solutions to their clients, and frustrations with their organization’s resistance to any activity that does not lead directly to sales and profits. We have to strike a balance.

Some might read this and think it’s written by someone who’s out of touch with the realities of business. A history of incredible revenue growth, happy clients, rising talent, strong relationships and motivated employees says otherwise. There is another way.

Gimme Some Closure

John Lennon once sang…. All I want is the truth now
Just gimme some truth now
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth

What I hear from most job seekers is gimme some closure.

The number one complaint candidates for jobs relate to me is that they never hear back from the companies where they interviewed. Had interviews, never heard anything. Sent my resume, never heard anything.

For employers, here is why you should acknowledge people who send resumes and call back people who have interviewed but you did not hire: people talk.

And they are talking in new ways. According to Fast Company, not only are they talking, they are taking it to social media.

But, the reasons to reply to people are not to only protect your brand and your reputation. For one, it’s the right thing to do. Second, while the candidate may not be right for your current opening, they may be right in the future for something else with your organization. And, this is not only your brand; this is your recruitment brand. People talk and their network has heard that you, as an employer, do not treat job candidates with respect.

That network may include people you may want to hire. The candidate you did not call back may be a friend to the candidate you do want to hire. Think of the message you are giving both.

Your brand is damaged. Your ability to hire is damaged.

Do they right thing.

Give some closure.