theCandidate & theEmployer: Resetting the Scales of Power

Where the scales fall, tells it all.

I write on Quora. #QandAwithSA where the audience (as per Medium) is authentic and represented globally; both important elements in engagement.

No Further Than The Screen
Despite physical distances, common human experiences unite us, prove geographically agnostic, and irrespective our coordinates, our similarities connect us whilst the perceived differences bind us in movement.

Take, the subject of Recruitment and Employment practices, for example. A series of experiences comprised of a lifecycle including discovery, definition, approvals, posting, sourcing, etc. ad nausea. The various archaic notions prevalent, despite borderlines, highlight exacerbating experiences which continue to rattle its participants. Of course, one may ask: “How are borderlines relevant to this fascinating collection of human behaviors?” /s

Stay with me, would you?

On The Human Condition And Perception: it’s remarkable, that is, perception’s role in power plays. Take, for example, the “Candidate Market”, a somewhat foreign concept in various markets.

What defines where and whether a candidate market exists, is determined by factors unique to each region. With globalization, the good old w3 (www), has made available to the fingertips of many, (though not all), easy, and often free, access to information. It is through this commodity by which billions of people are being made aware of the experiences realized by those in geographically marked cities; there where the candidate market is, game on!

On Silicon Valley of the North: like, Vancouver, BC.

Ah, yes, Hollywood North. Also widely recognized as the “next Silicon Valley”, where US companies and global giants recognized in every corner and slum are flocking to mark the territory of prime real estate made financially attractive to them, and gifted wrapped, by government incentives. Equally, they’re drawing the attention and commands of hoards of candidates hopscotching at the prospect of prime employment, sans relocation might I add, and who cost far less in salaries and wages compared to those left behind and to the side of our borders. Nevermind that Vancouver’s own residents are struggling to pay rent and can’t afford to buy a home in desirable neighborhoods. Ah, what’s pride of homeownership but a 35yr mortgage?

Game Changer: Global Talent Stream — June 12th: U.S. companies are setting up operations in their Canadian subsidiaries and BC is taking advantage with open arms. And while BC’s boasting a 5.6% unemployment rate (national rate is 6.8%), we still have a painful talent shortage; one where, despite the “…many well-qualified technical people, there are nearly not enough of those. Or of the entrepreneurial, managerial, and business types who can create, run, and maintain world-class tech companies.”

Just Give Me a Chance!

Really? Interesting given the rejection emails I’m reading on behalf of the many, talented peers I see struggling with these strange rejections, quite unlike expectation in this, here, wild market.

And 83% of Recruiters continue the trend: “It’s a Candidate market”. LinkedIn sings that 75% of those candis (what we affectionately call candidates) are in hiding, aka passive. 35% of your workforce are considered amongst that 75%. And, heck, while it’s been this way for many years, Employers are still lacking in awareness…and playing the denial game.

You Don’t Say?

Okay, say.

(*otherwise known as the Supply and Demand of Talent.*)Here, where there are more jobs than Candidates, it’s a hot market, and Candidates know this. They’re in command of high salaries and tempt their skills where they want to; rather than being puppeteered by the strings of employers. And just like the real estate market, the jobs are hot; though the candidates, hotter. Here, too, we see a Buyer — Seller war where direct hiring competes with agency recruiters and the race-to-place leaves loyalty a reflection only, in the candidate’s mirror.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, Candidates are driving the job market requiring Employers to offer up and fast. Similar with the Real Estate market (in Vancouver, too), where Realtors rave a Buyer’s market when more Buyers (else, Employers), than there are inventory of Homes (Candidates), must cater when they find a Home (willing to house them/a candidate willing to join them) and accept that they’ll be payin’ through the roof.

Now, of course, and keeping with the same analogy, this is neither sustainable nor affordable. Hence, Employers find themselves riddled with long searches and, possibly, offering to the 2nd or 3rd candidate of choice, if at all. Candidates, on the other hand, find themselves searching still, holding out for the right role, and then selecting amongst several, competing offers.

It’s a Game of Throws: Rejection and Ejection.

Dana*: an accomplished Sales professional hailing from both private and public sectors with a profile that raises eyebrows and transferrable skills showing she’s done a lot and well. Despite this, she’s been unemployed for 8 months and has placed me on her Rejection Mail List. “You’re overqualified.” She reads off. “I don’t get it. What am I doing wrong?” Remarkable; I shake my head.

Steven*: an accomplished Marketing and Project Management professional with experience in the public sector, in various industries, and from both east- and west-coast cultures; he’s navigated the nuances and he does so well. What makes him even more attractive a candidate is an innate skill called empathy; he can read and understand people then suggest solutions to issues few pick up on. He’s an alpha male though type-B. Why is this telling? Steven was interviewed by a global organization (←trust me on this) on 3 independent occasions, for 3 independent roles, and rejected each time. “We just felt you were too quiet and didn’t have the right energy.”

I, literally, experience pains growing through my body when recounting this situation and bury my head in my hands. And, despite this silent predator’s appeal, they led him on with the promise of an opportunity each time. Nice.

Today, Steven avoid this company at all costs; like a deadly allergic reaction has become of them. They called him again, and, finally, he said it: “Are you kidding me?” (Aware of the details of each interview) I understand why serotonin and norepinephrine uptake inhibitors are at war.

They Did What? Still?

Stupid interview questions and approaches are still in vogue in the Candidate Market:

  1. “What’re your strengths and weaknesses?” (Here we go back to 1982.)
  2. “You were our top candidate for this role (part-time) but we’ve decided the role should be full-time and are now considering other candidates.” (February 2017)
  3. “We recognize the strength of your background but our management team just isn’t ready for someone of your leadership strengths.” (April 2017)
  4. “Why should we hire you?” (No comment.)
  5. “Where do you see yourself in 2 and 5years?”
This is the Candidate Market?

Might As Well #SwipeOn: I always draw reference between job hunting and … “the things we do for love”. The Dating scene is as much a single’s market as is the job market to candidates. While it’s suggested that it sways in favor of the seeker, it don’t! The scales, here too, are neither balanced at 50. Even when we’ve found something good, we’re still swiping one way or the other. Why is that?

With Steven, he was good enough for part- but not the full-time role? And, Dana? Dear, sweet, Dana. Her qualifications disqualified her. I can offer you arguments on each side; reasons, the Employer will suggest. Regrettably, this happens all the time. And when their mind is set, (read: no point discussing), even free-services won’t be welcomed.

Know Your Worth

  1. Tip the Scales: regardless the market, balance them. At 40+ hours/week, candidates are still going at a bargain rate. Case in point, Vancouver salaries are lower than elsewhere despite the COL (cost of living). Wrap your head around that one.
  2. Communication: employers call for transparency, so should you expect the same including clarity of job duties, role expectations, and mutual respect, aka, #NoGhosting. Ask for an overview of the interview process and whether/when you can expect to hear from them with a status update. Irrespective of candidates selected to move forward, all candidates should be notified and in a timely manner. Such courtesy shouldn’t be reserved for “those selected to be interviewed” only. What a joke.
  3. What’s the Role? Really? Ask for clarity and definition before you sign. Else, don’t budge. This isn’t time for blind faith and Rosetta Stone won’t translate. What the Employer means isn’t supposed to be a #JediMindExperiment. This game continues to be played, however. A manager hires for the posted role but really has the candidate eyed for another, doesn’t even know what the role will look like, or/& will just get you do to whatever else needs to be done as well. “But, hey, be happy you’ve got a job.” Seriously?
When the Boss speed walks alllll over you.

4. Diversify: One size ain’t a sure fit for all; never mind any “market” perception, execute your plan and cast your net carefully. Stay committed to what you want and, just as the Employer is seeking the right fit for their organization (hey, they cast their interviewing net), so must you be evaluating which Employer meets the fit for the Organization of You.

5. Compensation: Forever a squirm-inducing challenge for most. It must be considered before you begin the discussion and don’t be a passenger on this ride. That is, don’t leave it to the Employer to drive; in general, they’re going to choose the shortcut that best suits them. Do your homework: research the market, salaries across your job function (taking into account seniority and tenure), and also the benefits including vacation and a host of other tangible elements comprising this aspect of the engagement. Promises of an IPO somewhere in the distant horizon are the stories of rainbows, pots of gold, and leprechaun parties to begin.

And Finally. In this hot climate that is the candidate market, candidates are holding out for roles void ambiguity and where mutually aligned values are identified before committing to a match. They’re seeking to enhance their quality of life and assessing opportunities against a comprehensive wish list of needs and motivators (beyond financial). Employers need to recognize that the perception of power is superficial at best, as with the interview experience, but, in reality, they’re not driving the process; heck, no one really is. The employer and candidate are both passengers playing Musical Chairs; is’t just a matter of who’s sitting in the candidate’s seat at any given time. Key point that may ignore on the ego train.

Candidates from all cohorts, millennial and GenXYZFKDUPETC, are coming to the scene and, even asking the tough questions, deemed audacious: “Why should I work for you?

With the gig-economy seeing more independent professionals delivering from a safe environment they call their home, why should they be obligated to an open spaced, noisy, meeting-intensive, town-hall crazy, drink-from-the-koolaid, mud-for-coffee, subsidized candy-machine, pretend-to-breathe-&-eat-our-visions-and-values-because-HR-demands-it ra ra ra brainwash /cultish environment, where parking ain’t free, the bonus won’t be coming in (“maybe next year”), keep your opinions to yourself ‘cuz the boss doesn’t want to hear it, and, while you’re at it, navigate those politics with a smile, would you?

Hey Hey… Think About It.

How’s that for your “must live-and breath and be passionate-about” RubyonRails Accounting, Bookkeeping, Customer Service Call-center Operator, Gopher, Admin, Kitchen Manager, Supplies Cupboard/Pantry-cuz-no-one-else-wants-to-do-it role?

And So!

Candidates will go where the employer actually delivers.
Employers expect conformity via delivery.
So, reset the scales of power; you’ve got one life, don’t hand it over.

Thanks for stayin’ awake.