By Jas Singh
Moving jobs is a big decision. It’s what defines our entire careers. And when things don’t work out, it can be devastating.
In nine years as a hiring specialist, the biggest reason for why candidates fail to perform in a job – even more than job difficulty and poor management – is because the job wasn’t what it said on the tin. In other words the job wasn’t exactly how they thought it would be.
And believe it or not, sometimes this is because they were mis-sold the job.
Could be by the hiring manager. Could be by one of their colleagues. Could even be by the recruiter.
Why would someone mis-sell a job?
The reasons could be endless. Might be because they’re desperate not to lose you to the competition. In the recruiter’s case, might be because you’ll land them a juicy commission (although as I constantly remind you, there are a lot of great recruiters out there!). Might even be pride thing – some hiring managers don’t want to tell you the whole story in case some of the challenges put you off. And worst of all, in some cases they’re not even aware the job is different to what they describe – they’re so far away from the day-to-day challenges that they can’t see the full picture.
In any case, you owe it to yourself to make sure this doesn’t happen.
To make sure that your dream job is a dream – and not an unexpected and costly nightmare.
Here are some ways to make sure you are never mis-sold a job.
1. Focus on challenges and detail more than opportunity
Most of us move jobs because we want to grow. And most hiring managers hire people who can help them improve – take them to the next level. Therefore it’s not surprising that most interviews focus more on the future – where is the company going? What are the objectives? What are you looking for in the next stage of your career?
All this is good, well and absolutely necessary. The problem is you can only create the right future by effectively tackling the present. Most business leaders usually have a similar end goal – become a market leader or achieve a successful end goal – what prevents them is not their vision of the future but their grip on the present.
Rather than just focussing on the opportunity, first spend time doing a thorough diagnosis of the present. Ask specific, detailed questions on the day-to-day aspects of the job. Eaxctly what will I be doing every day? What are the key challenges? Why have they failed to find the right person internally?
The best job spec is usually gathered in the interview.
Top achievers make sure they go deep under the bonnet, to see what the job really involves.
Nuts, bolts, pierced exhaust and all.
2. Agree on a 90 day plan
Recently, one of our retail clients hired a very high profile executive in a newly created position of Chief Digital Officer.
As it’s well publicised in the business world, digital is no longer just a silo in marketing but now an entire strategic level function within a business. Perhaps now even the most important area in a business. Research is already proving that companies who are not seeing the CDO as an essential and defined part of an executive team are already being left behind.
But like any new and fast growing industry, sometimes it can be difficult to define things exactly.
Although we extensively worked with our client to research their business and prepare a comprehensive job specification, there were still some question marks about the best way to design and implement the new digital strategy. How much would it overlap with other areas of the business? What about the existing brands? How much money would it cost?
To prevent any surprises and make sure both sides managed expectations correctly, our client decided it would be a good idea for prospective hires to prepare a quick plan on what they would do in their first 90 days in the job and also what they needed from the management team to make it happen. Nothing complex – in fact the selected candidate literally had 3 bullet points of what he would do and 2 things he needed to make it happen.
But at least it made sure everyone was fully on board and knew what to expect. Its early days but already it is clear their digital business and strategy has dramatically improved.
What a great and simple idea.
And in true entrepreneurial fashion, we’ve decided to steal it.
Now we try and get candidates and clients to both agree to a 90 day plan for every search we work on.
It manages expectations. It builds mutual commitment. It makes things clear and actionable.
In order to make sure expectations are aligned and commitment is mutual, it’s a good idea to try and agree to a plan before accepting a job.
Your new employer will also probably be impressed.
3. Gain multiple perspectives
Hiring managers are understandably biased. Everyone thinks they are the best boss to work for. And although belief in oneself as a leader is a good quality to have, sometimes managers can overlook the challenges and negative aspects of a job. Rose tinted spectacles and all that.
The more information and different perspectives you can gain on a job the better. Use your network. Ask your recruiter if they can introduce you to other people they might have placed. Check employer review sites such as glassdoor.com. Even reach out to ex-employees on LinkedIn.
Although care needs to be given to the accuracy of each source, you still need to do some diligence. It’s often why people who go to work for friends or ex-bosses tend to be disappointed second time around. They make decisions to move jobs purely on their relationship with one person – without considering the full details of the job, other colleagues and even company culture.
Sometimes it’s better to get more than one opinion.
No one can predict the future.
But the least we should do is to try and accurately define the present.
Hiring managers can gain much from hiring those people who spend extra time during the hiring process to accurately define the role in question.
It prevents disappointment down the line.
Have you ever been mis-sold a job?
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