30 May 2014

Handling Rejection...

It has always been interesting watching how candidates respond to rejection post interview.  It says a lot about how someone views themselves and their self esteem and to an extent, how ego centric they are too.  In fact, often it's not so much about how they handle rejection, but it goes hand in hand with how well they prepare for interviews in the first place...

This week I've had someone completely throw their toys out of the pram when they weren't offered a role. The client had had this candidate into the agency for 2 interviews and had asked them to respond to a brief.  There were two candidates in the mix and both candidates presented on the same day.  One candidate had the edge and was offered and accepted the role.  The client provided feedback to the second candidate and said that whilst their presentation had been good, it hadn't shown the depth of research that the first candidate had and that demonstrated to them that the offered candidate, was both a stronger candidate and wanted the job more.  Actually this was fair enough and the candidate admitted that they'd been away over the bank holiday whereas the offered candidate had spent all weekend preparing and practising their presentation.  The next morning though, the candidate was furious. Having slept on it, they felt hard done to and that their time had been wasted.  I had to point out that interviewing is the key element in securing a new role and that clients (particularly in the present climate) have choice of candidates and they'll select the one who comes across as 'best' - whether that is in terms of fit, knowledge, personality and past experience.  Often it's a difficult choice for clients and only one person can get the job - in this case, one needs to accept the decision, ask for feedback and then to ensure that in future interviews, they apply any of the constructive feedback that they have been given.  It's seldom that anyone is offered the job for every interview they go to so rejection is part of the recruitment process.  I have a policy that I will absolutely feedback honestly to candidates so that they can avoid making the same mistake twice.  One (strong on paper) candidate was knocked back three times at first interview and when I questioned the clients, the candidate had only asked questions about 'hours of work', 'holidays', 'really wanting a work life balance' etc....In the agency world asking these sort of questions at first interview really is shooting yourself in the foot. So we corrected it, and the candidate is now happily working clientside!  Sometimes a candidate will lose out on a job because someone else had 'just a bit more experience' - it's again fair enough. An employer wants the best person for the job relative to who is on the market at any given time.  As long as you have presented yourself well and there is no other negative feedback, you just need to move onto the next interview and carry on.  Here's a selection of my most common candidate profiles in terms of how people interview....and how they handle rejection.

All Talk And No Trousers - The candidate who doesn't prepare enough - generally a bit cocky and thinks they can talk their way out of anything.  Generally we spot these as people who don't stay in their jobs very long and flit from role to role. Usually very gregarious and engaging but ultimately when they need to knuckle down and get on with things, they struggle.  These people interview very well and need to be given a brief to test their actual knowledge.   If they get rejected post interview, they never consider that they could have done anything different - the typical response tends to be 'well I didn't want it anyway'. Hmm.

Beaten and Defeated.  This candidate generally is a good candidate. They're often selected for interview but finding all too often that they are pipped to the post and they're just narrowly edged out by someone else.  There are two things I look at here; are they going to the right interviews? and confidence.  Generally the more times that one is rejected, the harder it is to pick yourself up and brush yourself down to perform 100% at the next one.  I offer interview coaching to these individuals and it's important for them to realise that interviews are a 'performance' - you've got to give a fabulous presentation of yourself to your future employer and if for any reason you come across as a bit pessimistic, a bit down or just not very engaging, that gives A.N. Other Candidate carte blanche to walk in and get the job.  Relatively easy to rectify!

The Creative.  Actually these guys have a class of their own!  I find it relatively easy to find feedback as the interview process is all about the portfolio.  If a client doesn't like the portfolio, you don't get the job.  At second interview, clients often give a brief to respond to. If they don't like your concept, they won't give you the job.  Creatives, generally are not good at rejection but from a recruitment perspective, it's quite straightforward.  An important piece of advice to creatives though....if you are working on dull projects with dull clients....you need to do 'stuff' in your own free time to show clients what you are really capable of. Clients understand we can't all be working on Coca Cola and the top brands but they do still want you to demonstrate what you can do.  The most common complaint I hear from disgruntled (rejected) creatives is that the client just wanted their ideas.  Hmm.  To be honest, their time is more important to them than to interview a lot of creatives just to get some ideas. I don't buy that.

Tenacious Tom.  This candidate can often over think the interview process and actually just needs to relax a little.  They often become so obsessed with preparing for the interview that they actually forget about the human aspect of the interview and coming across as a warm and engaging human being that a client would want to have in their team.  Often these candidates just need to relax a little and be a little less intense.

Happy Larry.   This candidate is definitely a cup half full kind of person.  Generally they'll need to go to 3 or 4 interviews before securing a role. They apply for the right sort of roles where they have a good skills-fit - so ultimately the interview process will come down to 'fit' and 'chemistry'.  They understand that there are other good candidates around, they have good self-awareness of their strengths and weaknesses and can articulate themselves well.  When I'm giving feedback it tends to be just a case of another candidate fitting with the client better (but agencies will often keep them in mind for other teams).  The candidate takes rejection on the chin and absorbs any appropriate feedback.  In interviews, they are polished but not scarily so, come across as good team players and enthusiastic about working for the company.

Negative Nell.  Exhausting high maintenance candidates during the recruitment process....Will often say upon rejection that they were only going to the interview for practice. Or 'I didn't want to work there anyway'.  Fair enough. Interviews are a two way process and it's for both parties to see if the 'fit' is right for the job. This candidate never takes any rejection constructively - it's never down to anything they've done.  In fact, I'm not sure Negative Nell actually wants a job.  I give them a couple of opportunities but then I'd rather be helping all of the above profiles instead.  Sorry if that sounds harsh.

So in summary, to give yourself the best chance of getting the job, do some homework.  I always advise that even if no formal presentation is required, do some reading around, use Google, talk to people in the industry, find out about the clients you'd be working on etc.  This bit of homework could give you the edge over the candidate who just rocks up and tries to talk their way into the job.  Interviewing isn't rocket science - if a client is interviewing you, they generally want to hire so all you can do is come across as the sort of person they'd like to have in their team. A positive, enthusiastic, humorous, hardworking and engaging individual who they can let loose on their clients to build relationships.

My recruitment mantra is that there is somewhere for everyone and that you've got to kiss a few frogs before you find your Prince so going to a few interviews to find your perfect role and being rejected a bit along the way is no bad thing. You will absolutely get there in the end.

1 May 2014

Watch your Tweets...

Social Media.  It's something that has changed the way we all search for jobs but a word of caution, it's worth remembering that prospective employers can and do utilise the powers of Google to look at candidates - 'Your first impression isn't made with a firm handshake - it's with a Google search' (Dan Scawbel, author of Me 2.0).   This week I had forwarded a number of CVs to a client and the first thing he did was to check them all out on Twitter - the role was for a Content and Social Media role so it was particularly important for him to see how the candidates represented themselves (their own brand) on social media.    Two candidates were rejected outright for having Twitter feeds that were nothing more than rants and negative comments.  I was honest in giving them feedback - I'm finding more and more that clients are looking people up before they invite to interview so this needs to be considered when you're posting that picture of you on a pub crawl, quaffing cocktails on holiday or ranting about a rubbish day at work.  Here's some tips on how to keep your virtual self, virtuous:

Choose which of your platforms you want to be public.  If you're the sort of person who invites everyone you meet to be a Facebook friend, then you need to exercise caution. If you've already kept it small and you're on top of your privacy settings then, you just need to use common sense!

Go through your social media sites. Clean them up.  Take off any complaints about your boss, any confidential information, and any photos that could be construed as inappropriate.  Do this too for any photo sharing services.

Start a blog.   It's good for prospective employers to see that you're up to speed with technology, in the know and well connected but also passionate about something. It doesn't even need to be industry specific but it can help.  I recently found a graduate a job - he had absolutely no work experience, but he'd been writing a blog about advertising for the last 12 months.  It was insightful and intelligent - it showed he loved the industry.  Clients loved it.

Don't share anything you wouldn't want an employer to discover about you. Obvious.

Linked In.  One of the most important social media sites for job hunting.  It's typically the first port of call for recruiters and employers.  Make sure you've got a good photo (no beers in hand, no bikinis, no raving).  Try to secure recommendations from previous employers and colleagues.

Never lie.  We all know most people exaggerate on social media - (often when I meet a candidate, I can't actually reconcile them to their Twitter feeds....). Keep it real and remember these things come back to haunt you.

Keep job news offline.  Don't start posting news about your new job until you've spoken to your employer and employer to be.  People have been fired for this.  Stick to spreading your good fortune in person.

Mostly it's all about common sense.   It's essential in our industry to have an online presence, but it's essential to that your online reputation is a good one and not one that's going to shoot you in the foot.