Imagine for a moment you are a hiring manager. You have been trying to fill a spot on your team for several months and have gone through over 100 resumes and at least 20 in person interviews.
You’ve finally gotten two candidates you would consider hiring and here is a summary of each:
At almost every stage of the hiring process this person has been outstanding. Their resume shows a good mix of solid in-industry work experience coupled with a varied mix of firms that match well with the additional skills you are looking for. On their phone interview they showed great communication skills and phone presence. Finally, they did incredibly well in the in house interview showing cool under pressure and good analytical skills. They also have very strong understanding and grasp of the key technical parts of your business and everyone of your co-interviewers is recommending a strong hiring decision.
The only thing you don’t have is any personal recommendations from people you know and trust that have worked with this candidate in the past.
This candidate is average in just about every category you look for. Phone skills, technical knowledge of your industry, work experience and their resume are ok but not great. They would probably fit into your team ok and do acceptable work but you don’t think they will be hitting any home runs once hired. Your team feels the same way about them.
One big thing is that a good friend of yours who you’ve worked with in the past who has also worked with the candidate confirms your thoughts that they are not terrible but not great either.
So who would you hire?
A lot of folks think that Candidate 1 is the obvious choice. Why wouldn’t a rational person go for such a strong candidate with so many obvious green flags?
To answer, here is a real life scenario that many hiring managers have either experienced themselves or been on a team where this happened:
The last person to interview Candidate 1 sent you their notes saying they recommended a hire. As you scan through the resume one last time you notice that several of your co-workers are alumni of the candidate’s current employer. You reach out to some of those folks to ask their feedback on the candidate. The first feedback to come back is overwhelmingly negative. Phrases like “don’t hire them! They throw people under the bus whenever they can!”.
You first thought is that maybe this was an inter-personal conflict of some kind. However, after the third internal feedback comes back along the same lines you start to get suspicious. You reach out to old friends working at other companies who might know the candidate and the negative feedback gets worse.
You realize that this candidate must be one of those people who interviews well, has a great resume and good work experience but once you hire them they become a toxic presence on your team. These people cause lots of harm to team morale and are very difficult to remove from an organization. Since you were on a team in the past where this happened, you count yourself lucky to have “dodged” this bullet.
End of the Scenario
Now what do you think?
Given what I just described above, who would you hire now? I can tell you who most hiring mangers would pick: Candidate 2. Even without the negative feedback, they usually think “Go with a known quantity. The risk of going with an unknown is just too great”.
This works two ways however. In my own example, I switched from working for a company that organized mid size professional sporting events to applying to work on a trading floor for one of the largest banks in the world. I passed all of the interviews and tests and had a very strong personal recommendation from one of the current team members. HR went to my hiring manager and said: “You can not hire this guy! He has no corporate work experience!” My manager said to them “Hire him. If he doesn’t work out then you can take his salary out of my bonus.” And I got hired. This is a 100% true story and, yes, it really happened.
At this point, you are hopefully thinking “Wow, having a strong network that can recommend me is great! But I have only ever worked for a few companies, how can this help me?”
I’m glad you asked! Here’s a question for you: what’s an easy way to double the size of your network? Think hard.
One of the easiest ways is to switch to a new company. If you go from one similar sized company to another then you just effectively doubled the number of people who have worked with you. Since people tend to move and stay in an industry, this has a ripple effect as time goes on to the point where in a few years, you’ll have contacts at multiple firms to help you transition to your next firm.
If you found the above interesting and would like to hear more about how you and I could work together to help you get what you want when it comes to your career, you should check out my career coaching service.
I offer everything from mock interviews to salary negotiation coaching.
Check it out and we can get started on helping you get a better career.
My mailing list
In addition to this blog, I also have a mailing list.
If you would like to receive:
- alerts whenever I add a new post
- private coaching tips and advice offered only to my mailing list members
Then sign up for the list below: