The Top 5 Dumb Things Candidates Do to Sabotage Offers and Opportunities

Posted by Adam Weissman, Director, IT and Legal Technology at Glenmont Group

Glenmont Group is the largest boutique staffing firm specializing solely in Legal Technology in the country. We place more than 100 professionals every year with AmLaw 200 Firms, Fortune 500 Companies, and top-tier consultancies alike. While we have enjoyed tremendous successes over the last 11 years, we have also endured our fair share of monumental losses in the process. I come to you to gloat, to share, and to bestow glorious wisdom on both the recruiting and the job-seeking communities. For without these failures and missteps, I would not have become as effective in thwarting the pitfalls that lurk very closely to plain site, as they can easily be overlooked by the untrained eye. I offer 5 suggestions how to avoid seemingly simple, but profoundly harmful, mistakes that are almost certain to stop the hiring process in its tracks and send candidates back to square one.

1)      Misrepresenting Your Skills or Experiences

Most employers who hire technology candidates typically seek individuals whose experience and hard skills currently match, either significantly or entirely, a core set of requirements for a particular position within the organization. Fewer employers these days are willing to risk making a bad hire on a candidate who has the potential to grow into the role in the future, but is not currently able to contribute or be impactful to the position and firm from Day One.

Candidates should anticipate being asked to clarify, qualify, or quantify, the majority of the truly most important background requirements during the first 2-3 rounds. A job interview is not the time for excessive exaggeration. Though it is important to represent yourself as “the complete package”, be assured that CIO’s, IT Directors and Managers, and, yes, even HR staff are equipped with enough knowledge to uncover the truth. A candidate’s best bet is to highlight his or her technical expertise and articulate relevant experience, citing specific examples of both, as it pertains to the job for which he or she is being interviewed.

 2)      Lying About Compensation

Many candidates feel they are underpaid for the job they do, based on what they perceive their colleagues or friends earn in the same or similar position. The industry standard for salary increases for individuals moving from current employment to new employment is between 8-12%. However, purposely deceiving a potential employer about how much you currently earn in order to leverage a higher compensation package, regardless of how well-deserved or –earned, will invariably be discovered and will likely cost you that new opportunity, and could potentially damage your credibility with other future potential employers.

I recently placed the Director of E-Discovery at a Fortune 200 company. My client raved about how excited they were to bring this individual aboard and the future they saw for this person within the organization. The compensation package was substantial and my client even went against company hiring practices and allowed my candidate to start before all of their administrative and background checks were completed. This seemed to have worked out perfectly for everyone, me included.

I received a call from my client’s HR Director on the second day after my candidate started. My superstar candidate was being terminated and escorted out of the building. The W-2s my client requested showed a $65,000 discrepancy less than what my candidate stated and wrote on the employment application, which dictated the salary and bonus structure my client offered my candidate.

 3)      Social Media Transparency and Accountability

Personal and professional worlds have long found ways to overlap, but often without the harsh consequences the advent and popularity of social media has brought in the last 10 years. It is ultimately your responsibility to control the information you make available and accessible, and just because you only invite your trusted friends and family to connect on these sites, does not guarantee your information won’t reach unintended eyes. There are too many horror stories to recount here, but headlines are made daily about how an inappropriate or incriminating picture, image, or message was sent to the wrong person via text message or email, or was posted to a social media site profile and was made more public than originally intended, and ultimately somehow made its way back to the person’s employer. Some of these incidents have yielded legal suspensions or, even worse, termination of employment as a result. Be mindful of the information you make available to anyone else. You never know who is looking.

4)      Error-Filled Thank You/Follow-Up Notes to Hiring Managers

The “Thank You” or follow-up note is both under-valued and under-estimated by many candidates. A simple gesture of sending an email, or even a hand-written letter, thanking a hiring authority for their time and insights into the position one is interviewing for, says a lot about a candidate’s professional character and integrity. It demonstrates one’s commitment to the opportunity and organization. However, a poorly-written letter, especially one that uses poor grammar or has words misspelled, can do equally as much to undermine a candidate’s credibility and even one’s good standing in an employer’s consideration for hiring that individual. A good, error-free letter may not directly secure a job for an applicant, but a carelessly crafted one could certainly knock an otherwise strong candidate out of consideration. Having someone take a minute to proofread your notes could prove more valuable than you might expect.

 5)      Taking Too Long to Accept an Offer

Every recruiter I have ever spoken with has shared at least one example of an offer being taken off the table because the candidate took too long to accept the offer. As a recruiter, I service my clients by providing the most talented professionals available for a particular open position. I also advocate on behalf of my candidates by leveraging my relationships with client contacts to negotiate the most attractive and complete offer possible for a candidate, taking into consideration what that particular candidate has expressed their needs are when considering whether to accept a job opportunity. If I have done my job right, both my client and my candidate will be happy with the terms of an offer. Many individuals prefer to receive an offer, whether verbally or written, and ask for at least 24 hours to consider the details being presented to them. Most offers, especially written ones, have a deadline for acceptance or rejection.

Earlier this year, I had a candidate receive a written offer on a Friday afternoon that was customized to meet his needs and even some wants. He was excited to receive the offer letter and asked to think about it through the weekend, but gave me verbal acceptance of the offer and committed to sign the letter and return it to my client on Monday. The candidate mistakenly figured his verbal acceptance bought him some time, and decided to take an impromptu vacation to the Bahamas to celebrate… for 10 days. Upon returning, tanned, relaxed, and feeling good about life, I had to inform my candidate that while he was living it up on the beach, due to his lack of communication, my client made the assumption my candidate was no longer interested in the opportunity, and fully rescinded the offer.

There is a saying in Recruiting, as with any sales transaction, “Time kills all deals.” The pinnacle moment of synergy and momentum between my client and my candidate is when the final offer is presented. Every second after that moment points down the road of separation and disconnect between the two parties until the offer agreement is solidified.

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Glenmont Group is a boutique search firm that concentrates on Professional Services, with a focus in the Legal & Content space. Because we are a highly focused boutique firm, we offer expertise in the industry that other search firms cannot. Our staff has been trained on, employed in or consulted for these industries so there is no learning curve. This means that you will not see resumes off of "job boards" that seem to have little or no connection to the position you are trying to fill. In fact, just the opposite is true. Our process includes a competitive analysis that identifies the top candidates in your given field. At Glenmont Group, we strive to develop and maintain long-term professional relationships with our clients. We believe in a business relationship based on hard work, cooperation, integrity, trust and a sense of humor. We are also active members in our industries by working on or with the Executive board of our industry trade organizations such as; IQPC, EDRM, LMA, PMA, ALSM, ALA, AIIM, ARMA. This assures constant access to a network of those highest quality candidates who are involved in these organizations.

Posted in Advice, Insights, Stories

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