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Walking a Mile in Their Shoes

Walking a Mile in Their Shoes…What Happens When HR Professionals Become the Job Candidates?


As the head of the Special Projects/Contingency Division here at Right Recruiting, most of my assignments are in the Human Resources area. In general, I tend to gravitate to those projects, and Jeff, my boss, recognizes my strengths for these types of projects. Why do I like HR projects so much? For me, it’s because I like HR people–they’re approachable, and generally pleasant and usually chatty. In a word, I find it very easy to relate and conversations are easy. 

I noticed something interesting the other day. Human Resources people sometimes can be difficult CANDIDATES. The example below is what got me thinking about one of my favorite recruiting categories of people….

We have a very good project that should be closing this week. It is with a 12,000 person locally based international firm. The job will be a Director level position based in Philly and there is a potential career track to a VP role. It is a plum job, especially for people who don’t want to leave the area to advance their careers.

My team spoke with upwards of 100 people for this job, between evaluating our client’s ad response, their internal candidates and people we recruited. At the end of the day we had 7 candidates interviewed, which led to 3 finalists.

When it came time to schedule the finalists, one never called us back, ever.  This is a person who had gone through a phone conversation and two Skype video chats with two VP’s with our client. He had 2 weeks to disengage but left us hanging with egg on our faces with our client. All that person needed to do was email or call to say she wasn’t interested. No doubt a candidate for her company would be frowned upon for behaving like that. Believe it or not, that is not the first time that has happened with HR executives- it rarely happens in other disciplines.

So, what happened? What would make a great candidate go off the grid?

Jeff has a theory- HR people are so used to having recruitment vendors that they forget that it is a different relationship when they are a CANDIDATE.

I have also have a theory: she got cold feet and thought the job was beyond her skills but didn’t want to admit it so she went “dark.” 

What do you think? Do you agree with Jeff’s theory? Or my theory?
Or, do you have another theory?
Please help us to understand this better. 

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