Things That Immediately Ruin a First Impression

By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

“A leader’s role is not to control people or stay on top of things; but rather to guide, energize, and excite.” ––Jack Welch, Former CEO of GE

A leader’s role is to lead. Sometimes, as Jack Welsh points out so well, that involves guiding, energizing, and exciting. Sometimes, it requires a leader to tie himself to the bridge as the hurricane arrives, shakes his or her fists to the heavens, and screams, “I’m here! I’m not going anywhere! Come get me!”

Sometimes, that leader has to face facts and insist that everyone in her or his organization face them.

A guest on Job Search Radio quoted a survey that said that knowing what they now know, 80% of hiring managers would not hire the person they previously hired. That percentage seems pretty high to me so I’m going to change it and say, MOST managers would not hire a person they previously hired. More than 1 of 2 hiring managers would not rehire someone!

Maybe that is because their expectations of people are way too high. I know that was true with several hires I made when I started hiring for my first agency. Trainees walked in my door and put their happy little smile button face on, said they were willing to work for the meager salary I was offering to start and then I would ask them questions about their background and experience. 30 minutes later I had to make a decision.

I don’t think I am the only hiring manager who wrestles with hiring people. Most managers I run into in my role as a headhunter don’t know how to evaluate and/or assess people to work for them. Almost every job hunter can answer detailed questions about what they have done at a previous firm and allow a manager to correlate that experience with what will be demanded in their job. Yes/No. Can they do my job? That’s easy.

Hiring decisions often break down in two areas.

The first is “fit.” I went to several dictionary websites for the definition of fit and was left completely unsatisfied with the definition of the word.

” adapted or suited; appropriate” No.

” proper or becoming” No.

” qualified or competent” This was covered by the skills assessment and not right for how firms define the term.

I then hit upon, ” Suitable and correct according to accepted social standards” Eureka! Using my handy dandy Masters degree in social work I can see how this breaks down.

Accepted social standards are open to interpretation.

Accepted social standards can vary according to whim.

The new hire is never told what accepted social standards are.

The new hire is told the wrong thing about what accepted social standards are.

For example, there was a news story recently about one of the banks firing a second-year analyst because of a memo he sent to interns containing some pretty moronic suggestions.

I recommend bringing a pillow to the office (a yoga mat works, too). It makes sleeping under your desk much more comfortable, in the very likely scenario that you must do that.

Never take your jacket off at work. This is investment banking, ladies and gentlemen. Other groups may be more liberal when it comes to the summer dress code, unfortunately, we’re not.

We expect you to be the last ones to leave every night…no matter what. That’s what good summer analysts do. (Also getting in earlier than me would be a power move – You should enjoy your casual 9:15 AM PT arrival time this Friday, but I wouldn’t get used to it).

The second-year analyst was fired. A breakdown of understanding acceptable social standards (OPINION: “You can say these things but don’t put them in email where we can be embarrassed on by the media,” is the standard). Someone who made it through the hiring system and worked for the firm for more than one year did not understand that this was not acceptable.

Another reason for a breakdown is that the expectations of the hiring manager are unreasonable and not communicated. Using an example from recruiting, the corporate recruiter who already has 25 assignments that must be filled is given a new one that must be filled yesterday for a hard-to-find skill for $20000 less than what the market normally pays for the expertise. By the way, their firm is unwilling to relocate someone and will not transfer an H-1b visa for a potential new hire (Please don’t respond by telling me that people legally employed in the US working under an H-1b take jobs from Americans and keep wages down; both points have been disproven by objective sources and are neither the point of the article or the example).

Doomed! The person is seen as an incompetent internally and will have to spend years recovering their career with that firm or, of course, change jobs to avoid the impact of unreasonable expectations.

So, you ask managers to assess for fit when they are ill-equipped to do so. They have no training; they have no access to testing that would identify their personality typing and help them mesh it with others.

And, of course, your system invites people being interviewed to lie (Sure! I can fill 25 positions in one day).

Oh! I forgot to mention, this ill-equipped manager takes weeks to decide because they move from one bright shiny object (potential hire) to another over weeks or months at a time before deciding on one only to discover the person they finally selected took another position and have been at their new job for several weeks.

All because managers are left to a notion of fit that is both subjective and prone to the bias of hiring people just like themselves. How’s that working for you when more than half your managers wouldn’t rehire someone>

Let’s face facts.

Hiring is broken.

We all know it.

It’s past the time when your organization should be tolerating such mediocrity from so many.

And in case you think I’m referring to firing people for this, I’m not. It’s systemic and cross organizational. Don’t believe me? How many organizations interview hiring managers (and above) for how they interview potential hires? Judging by what I hear from people after an interview, pretty close to zero.

Like the bank that needed to do re-education of what was an acceptable use of email, managers need training.

And so do many of you in corporate HR.

Train them.


© The Big Game Hunter, Inc. Asheville, NC  2015, 2024


I Lowballed My Desired Salary! Is It OK to Fix It?


People hire Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter to provide No BS job search coaching and career advice globally because he makes job search and succeeding in your career easier. 

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