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Why Hiring Stalls And Recruiters Don’t Communicate With You

April 30th, 2021

About a month ago I was asked by the CEO of a company I work with to find a front end developer. That is someone who specializes in making a website beautiful and delightful… not necessarily on optimizing database stuff or some of the behind-the-scenes work. This type of person is in demand…. which is important to this whole story.

Disclaimer: I am not a trained or full-time recruiter. I’m not speaking for recruiters, I’m just sharing my recent experience.

So I worked with the CEO and lead developer to create a job description, posted it on a special board, and got about twelve applications right away. I went through them, scored them based on qualifications, and presented a short list to the team. We talked about it, and reached out to I think five people to set up interviews.

We heard from one person.

Remember, these are people who reached out to us, responding to the job posting.

That was okay. The one person who replied was on our short-short list. We had a good interview, and then… I (being the main contact) was ghosted.

GHOSTED.

Hiring Ghosted

I value good communication, and ghosting someone is not what I would call good communication. The longer I was ghosted the less interested I was in this short-listed candidate.

Communication…. lol. I said I value good communication, and I was upset that i wasn’t hearing from this candidate. All the while, there were new applicants I wasn’t hearing from. Oopsie. This is such a two-way road, and throw in the human factor and we have the perfect storm for misunderstandings and such. Instead of saying what all the candidates I reached out to did wrong, I’ll share why I did not communicate well (from the job seeker’s perspective). These are going to sound like excuses, but that’s not my intention. My intention with this post is to paint a bit more of the landscape of finding the right hire, and sharing why the “candidate experience” can suck.

I’m Busy Doing Other Things

I’m sorry to say this but you aren’t my first priority. And, this task (of finding a front end) might not be my first priority this hour, or today. I have things going on. I’m not a recruiter, but recruiters can have multiple, even dozens of “open recs” they are trying to fill. As we focus on what is most urgent to us right now we might be letting you, the important stuff, get paused. Not great, I know, but this is a reality you need to understand.

Just a couple of months after I launched JibberJobber, in July of 2006, I wrote Sense of Urgency, a frustrating take on how the job seeker’s sense of urgency is “I need a job now, today!” while an employer’s sense of urgency might mean, “We need you now… well, maybe next quarter!”

I’m Busy Working With Other Candidates

When I narrowed down on “the short list,” and then started responding to people from that short list, I was focused on them. We already talked about who we wanted to focus on, which meant not talking much (or at all) with others. We needed to focus on what we chose to focus on, which might not mean you. This is the root of me ghosting others. It’s lame but it is why you might not hear from me.

Does it mean you are a “no?” Not necessarily. That depends on what happens with my shortlist. Again, not making excuses, just sharing why I’m not communicating with you.

My Customer (the Hiring Manager) Changed My Direction

This actually happened… there were some pretty important changes with my customer, who is the person making the hiring decision (not you, the job seeker). They brought in another candidate, and we spent time with that top candidate while even putting the short list on hold. Then there were some strategic and customers things that came up that might have changed our entire direction, and put this position on hold…

Uncertainty sucks. Years ago I was in serious conversations with an outplacement company about a relationship that would have been very good for JibberJobber (lots of moola!!), but then all of the sudden I heard nothing from my contact for months. It was so frustrating from being super close to signing on the dotted line to getting ghosted for months. Did I mention “for months?” Talk about frustrating. Anyway, I found out that company was getting acquired, and there was a moratorium on communication which impacted me in a huge way. It sucked but we couldn’t do anything about it.

Strategies, direction, budgets, interests, etc. change. And those changes impact our lives.

I’ve Focused My Communication On People Who Have Paid Attention

This one really got under my skin. I sent messages out to the shortlist asking when we could talk, and requesting they get one other bit of information. I think out of ten people I asked for one more bit of information, TWO got it back to me. TWO. It was as if the others didn’t read my email.

Well, front end developer is a technical role. If you can’t pay attention to my short email, read the specs, and respond with what I’m asking for, what does that mean for your “attention to detail?” I didn’t do this as a test, to see who has attention to detail. I did this as a legitimate request. Not for fun, but for real. I needed that information. 20% actually got it back to me.

If you don’t hear back from me it could be because I have seen some red or yellow flags from the first time we communicated, including you missing something I’ve asked for.

Now, if I were your boss I’d coach you through it. But I don’t need to give unsolicited information/feedback to 8 people I don’t know, who didn’t even read my short email in the first place. If I ask for something, take it seriously.

I’m Waiting to Hear Back From My Top Picks

My top pics, the short list of the short list, should be in communication with me. But that might take a few days, then I reply, then I wait a day or two, then I reply, then a day or two later I hear back from them. This means a week, or weeks, could go by while I’m in that mode… and not communicating with you. I’d like to communicate with you but I don’t really have anything to say. “I’m waiting to hear back from my #1 pick… I’ll let you know if something changes.” Or, “I’m waiting to hear if they say yes, and if they don’t I’ll come talk to you.” That sounds kind of dumb, and I don’t want you to think you are bottom of the barrel or last choice. So I just don’t reach out and update you, especially if I haven’t heard from you for a while.

I’m Human

I make mistakes. I might have reached out to everyone and thought I included you, but I might have missed you. Or missed your last email. I’m not a robot and I’ll make mistakes and miss things. The saying “slip through the cracks” is common because it commonly happens. I bet you have it happen to (which is why I recommend JibberJobber as a job search tracker and organizer).

I’m Making This Up As I Go

I mentioned above that I’m not a trained or full-time recruiter. I know a lot of recruiters, and I reach out and chat with them, but they have years, decades of experience that I don’t have. I’ll make mistakes. That might mean I overcommunicate, maybe giving too much hope. I do this a few times a year, not a few times a week… so I’ll never be amazing at it. But that’s okay. It’s one of my job opportunities, not my chosen career. I am pretty good at parts of it, I think, but a lot of it is stuff I *think* is right, and I’ll just make mistakes.

Again, I’m not writing this post as an apology, and to offer excuses. I want my job seekers on JibberJobber to really understand why they may be getting ghosted by the recruiter or hiring manager.

So, what can you do about it?

COMMUNICATE TO/WITH ME

Instead of waiting to hear back, which could take a while because of the reasons I’ve listed above, get back on my mind and in front of my eyeballs by communicating with me. I know this can be uncomfortable, and perhaps doing it might annoy the person on the other end. But what do you have to lose? I’d rather you reach out and show interested and sell yourself (not hard, but genuinely and passionately).

Be tactful, be professional, and be hopeful. But don’t sit back and assume I have my stuff completely together and just wait to hear from me. If you are really interested, communicate with me.

What Else Can You Do?

As I work through my top pics, and for whatever reason they get selected out (they are too expensive, they are bad communicators, we interviewed them and there is clearly a technical or cultural deficiency, etc.) the next round of candidates starts to move up to top spot. This is a fluid process and who looked great at first might be a no-go, leaving room for my second picks.

Don’t get offended at being a second pick. I might have to weed through what I thought was awesome to find you, who happens to be the best and right hire. Work with me, communicate with me, make sure you don’t fall off because of bad branding or communication, and we might start a beautiful professional relationship.

But don’t get discouraged to the point where you are mad, bitter, or non-communicative. Those people end up on another list I keep… a list of  “I would never hire these people because they burned bridges.”

The job search is hard and grueling. I know it is. It sucks. It feels demoralizing. But it is also riddled with human error… so fill in those gaps with your proactive and positive strategies and tactics.

You can do this. We can do this together.

UPDATE: The position was put on hold for a bit, and not it is not on hold. Those who stuck with me and communicated with me are in the running… hang in there!

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Five Life Changes to Become More Supportive

April 5th, 2021

Last week I had an eye opening chat with one of my favorite people, Shelley Benhoff. You can watch it on YouTube here.

Pluralsight YouTube Shelley Benhoff

I asked Shelley about her advice for girls and women who are interested in a STEM/tech career. I also asked her for advice to guys who work with women in STEM, and how they can be more supportive. This has really been on my mind lately (as I was getting ready to talk to her about it), and I just can’t stop thinking about it. I recently woke up with some very specific ideas I think will help people be more supportive of women, and really, anyone, at work.

I have to say, I think most of us are trying to make work a better place. If that is you, think about these five ideas. I know they have helped me think about how I can support others.

First, nurture an abundance mentality.

I hate hearing people are mad that someone else got a job or promotion because of reasons outside of performance. Of course, this happens. And no, it is not fair. But you need to change your focus from disgust and hate and jealousy to thinking “okay, how can we make this pie bigger?”

Abundance mentality is so powerful. Instead of thinking “they got that job, and so there is no other opportunity for anyone else,” think “they got that job, and we are doing really well, and soon there will be more opportunities.” Abundance mentality is the opposite of zero-sum game theory. Zero-sum game says “if they get something, I don’t.” But during my entire career I’ve never seen where someone gets an opportunity and that shuts doors for everyone else.

Please, I beg you, start thinking about abundance mentality. There is an abundance of opportunity. We just need to find or create it. When you start to believe in abundance mentality it becomes a lot easier to support others, even when we think they got something we thought we deserved.

Second, celebrate wins of others.

When my wife and I bought our first house we were over-the-moon excited. The house was really nice for us, and where we were at. I had just gotten my first real (big) job, and we had a couple of kids. The house was big enough for us to grow into. And it had a (very old but functional) hot tub under a covered patio!

We had friends and family come over… you know how that is. People are curious to see how others are doing, so they come see your new digs. My wife was shocked when some people made comments that expressed jealousy, or other negative feelings. She really thought others would be as excited for as as we were, and was disheartened to hear comments that were less than supportive. We had a few conversations and she taught me an important lesson: Instead of comparing our lives and wins and accomplishments with others, we need to celebrate with them.

Is this easy to do? Not always. When you feel like you have worked harder, are smarter, etc., and you deserve goodness, and then you see someone else get what you thought you deserve before you get it, it’s hard. Shakespeare wrote plenty about jealousy. The old religious books write about jealousy. This is nothing new. Recognize that jealousy is not good, nor is it healthy. Work through the jealous feelings and get to a point where you genuinely care about others to the point of being happy for their wins.

This goes hand in hand with abundance mentality thinking. If you think the pie is a limited size it’s easier to be jealous. When you shift to an abundance mentality you can think “they got goodness, and we can all get goodness!”

Third, recognize your colleague has a whole world outside of work.

It’s critical that we think about people as humans. They have a mother, father, aunt, spouse, kids, even neighbors and other friends, outside of work. When you have jealous, unsupportive feelings about others you are discounting the goodness that others see in them. Maybe they donate their time or resources to good causes. Your lack of support impacts their ability to function and contribute to their other circles.

I think too often we see one another at work as a title, a role, and sometimes a competitor. We worry about what they’ll take from us, not realizing that when they get a raise, promotion, bonus, or even just recognition, that might carry over into how they parent, or their outside relationships. Why shouldn’t we be happy for, and supportive of them, as they have professional accomplishments?

Many times when we think about our own accomplishments we think about how that will change our home life, or our future. We need to think of our colleagues as humans, and afford them the same benefits.

Fourth, admit that you can’t possibly do it alone.

Funny story: When I was in college I had finally settled on a major. It wasn’t computer science… it was the business college alternative (computer information systems). I had two programming classes, and a handful of other tech classes. I looked at others in the college of business, especially marketing and management, and thought “well, good luck getting a job or having a meaningful career.”

Yes, I was immature, short-sighted, and dumb.

Anyway, at my low point in this thinking I remember walking through the liberal arts building with the English and history majors. I remember thinking they made some really, really bad decisions. They chose easy majors to get through school, and would pay for it later when they tried to have a meaningful career. I regret that line of thinking.

Fast forward a bit and I had an epiphany: while I might be the one to create cool technology, or lead teams that created cool technology, without people who knew how to write and communicate and do other things, I would not be able to see the success I wanted. I needed other people. I needed their diverse skills and thinking.

Since then I’ve worked with some brilliant non-technologists. Wordsmiths, presenters, negotiators, leaders, etc. My thinking was so myopic I couldn’t understand why I’d need others around me. And then, when I had them around me, and I could see their brilliance, I realized I was probably the least important around.

No… even that is wrong thinking. We all contribute. We are all needed. We all add value.  Please, appreciate what others can bring, when they feel safe. Think about what you can bring when you feel safe! Appreciating this can help you move past the feelings of jealousy and into a place where you are supportive of others.

Fifth, remember others supported you, even when they maybe shouldn’t have.

At some point in your career you were wrong. You were new, stupid, immature, and probably made plenty of mistakes. I’m not saying that “marginalized people” are stupid or immature or full of mistakes, but I want you to remember that when you were a dork, or an expensive investment, someone took a chance on you. Whether that was hiring you in the first place, sending you to training, giving you a promotion, letting you work on a hard project or with a key customer, you have likely been the beneficiary of someone giving you a chance.

The reality is that someone supported you. I’m not saying they put you on easy street. I’m sure you have worked hard and taken advantage of opportunities. But I’m sure that some people thought, “Maybe I’ll give this person a chance and see what they can do.” I beg you to give this same opportunity to others. Help them with a chance, and then mentoring and coaching. Some of the most rewarding parts of my career have been when I’ve done that, and seen people step up, grow, and deliver.

Bonus, do all of this without any expectations.

I know how disheartening it is to support someone, to go to bat for them, and get nothing in return. Not acknowledgement, not a thank you, not even a head nod. Maybe, you support someone, and it bites you later.

Please support others without expecting or hoping that you’ll get anything more than self-fulfillment. The more you expect in return, the higher the chances people feel your intentions are not genuine. I’m not saying to give everything away and hope for nothing, but if you were to give and support because it is the right thing to do, goodness will come back to you. It might be through wealth and friendships, but it might just be through a peace of mind you get from a clean conscience, and knowing you have lived a good and noble path.

This is our life.

Our life is too short to be a jerk, harbor unfounded hatred, and be jealous. Sure, you could do that, but you’ll live in a level of miserable that you don’t need to. Doing the things above have allowed me to have more joy and happiness than when I don’t.

Let’s all work for an more enriching, meaningful life. Supporting others is a great way to get there.

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30 days of Jason Alba courses on Pluralsight

April 2nd, 2021
Pluralsight is free ALL MONTH (APRIL 2021). No credit card required. Go to www.Pluralsight.com to get your free account.
And, they have thousands of courses.
Put your email address in below to get 30 days of very short emails with daily suggestions for Jason Alba soft skills courses. It’s easy to unsubscribe if it gets to be too much.


Pluralsight FreeApril 2021

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Pluralsight’s #FreeApril is back! Check this out!

April 1st, 2021

Last year, during quarantine, Pluralsight opened their entire library of courses to the entire world. I was anxiously waiting to hear whether they would do it again this year and was delighted to see that this morning, April 1 (this is not an April Fools joke!) they did it again!

Over 8,000 Pluralsight Courses

I want to share some ideas on how you can best take advantage of this. First, go sign up. No credit card required (THANK YOU PLURALSIGHT!). That means you don’t have to worry about getting billed next month, or having to cancel anything. Just get your account and get free access.

This can be a bit overwhelming, I know. Who is going to watch 8,000 courses in a lifetime? Nobody. Who is going to watch 80 courses (1% of the library) this month? Probably NO ONE.

Don’t let this be a Netflix moment, where you spend hours scrolling through the entire library and not figuring out what you should watch. Instead, make a plan, make a list, and then schedule time each day to watch a course.

30 Days of Soft Skills Courses (an email reminder)

I just created a new 30 day email drip series. Sign up below and I’ll send you a VERY SHORT email with a course suggestion every day. 

It’s hard to sift through thousands of courses. This 30 day drip will send you very short emails with daily suggestions for Jason Alba soft skills courses. Easy to sign up, easy to unsubscribe.
Pluralsight is free during all of April 2021. No credit card required. Go to www.Pluralsight.com to get your free account.


In addition to my own soft skill courses, there are plenty of other amazing courses. You can pick topics, like project management or product management, leadership or management, communication or teams, and use the search box to find relevant courses.

Or, you could look through the cultivated learning paths, like these:

Agile Business Management

Introduction to Professional Scrum

AWS Machine Learning / AI

Becoming a Business Analyst

Communications for Project Managers

Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers

Embracing and Managing Change

While it’s true that Pluralsight was designed for developers, and goes very deep into most aspects of technology, there are plenty of non-techie courses. I have 36 of them here.

Figure out your topic.

Then make a list of courses to watch.

Schedule time on your calendar… and take full advantage of a free and open library during the month of April!

Enjoy!

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