It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. Since the last time I was essentially fired, but hired again at a better job. My former employer apparently had no reason to fire me that would even pass muster in a Right to Work state like New York, where you can be fired because the day ends in “y,” so I got a nice severance to shut me up and guarantee I wouldn’t sue them or talk to the DOL.
I’ve been having fun following my former employer’s efforts to replace me. The guy working there now apparently hasn’t long to go, the recruiter they use keeps reposting the ad for the position. I’ve also heard he’s a bit ‘odd,’ so we’ll see. No one will last there in my opinion, mainly because the owners are a bunch of incompetent screaming lunatics.
Anyway, as a means of getting back on the horse, I’d like to share some common statements recruiters, both corporate and agency, hear from customers, and what their plain English translations are. Enjoy!
Statement: “We want someone who can grow into the position.”
Translation: “We don’t want to pay for someone who can already do what we want done, so we will look at resumes of people who don’t have the experience/skills we need, and we will constantly reject them because they don’t have the experience/skills we need. We will eventually put the position on hold and have someone internal do it. If the manager of this position starts feeling a lot of heat we will then make a hire, and we will either hire one of the junior people you presented and want them replaced in a month, or we will finally cave in and pay the market rate for the person we actually need. That will of course be a last, desperate move. When that happens we will want the people you sourced six months ago to start tomorrow.”
Statement: “We need a consultant.”
Translation: “We need a full time employee but think a consultant would be easier to fire if need be, even though we work in an ‘At will’/ Right to Work state.”
Statement: “A degree in the field is required.”
Translation: “I want some kind of qualification to cover my ass should the person not work out.”
Statement: “This experience/skill is required, this experience/skill is prefered.”
Translation: “All these experiences/skills are required. If we see someone with the requirements but not the preferences, we will reject them for not having the preferences. If we see someone with all the requirements and all the preferences, we will reject them for not being focused enough on the requirements.”
Statement: “We need someone to start as soon as possible.”
Translation: “We left off hiring for this role until the last second. We now want people to leave their current positions with a day’s notice even though we’d mark people as not rehirable and give them a bad reference or no reference for doing just that. We will also reject everyone who can start right away because they’re not currently working, and we will reject them because they are not currently working and can start right away.”
Statement: “You need a thick skin to work here.”
Translation: “Our managers/owners are incompetent and spend their day screaming at people and screwing things up and blaming everyone else. They really haven’t worked anywhere else because it’s a family owned company, so they have never actually had to behave professionally in any circumstance to get what they needed, and they accept the increased cost of turnover, because they’re unaware of it or because they simply don’t care and get off on belittling people.”
Statement: “This is a high pressure environment.”
Translation: “We deliberately under staff the company to save overhead, even though the cost of the increased turnover due to burnout is likely higher than just having adequate staff.”
Statement: “A sense of urgency is required.”
Translation: “Our managers are deliberately over tasked and so this person will need to make a great show of needing attention to get even basic needs met from their manager. Thankfully, a ‘sense of urgency’ is a completely subjective standard, so even if this person asks their manager for something twenty times, in writing and verbally, and including sending a few strippergrams to get the point across, it still won’t be the manager’s fault for not coming through because there was a lack of urgency to the required degree.”
Statement: “We need someone who is highly polished.”
Translation: “The person shouldn’t have an accent and they should know enough corporatese to sound good in meetings, whether or not they actually accomplish anything else. Our boss doesn’t like foreigners and prefers a certain brand of suit tailored in a certain way, and we will decide on those criteria.”
Statement: “What’s your mark up?”
Translation: “We’d like you to handle all the payroll and insurance issues, but we’d rather not pay you for it.”
Statement: “We will only accept top notch candidates.”
Translation: “We will only accept top notch candidates regardless of whether or not what we offer in terms of compensation, management, benefits, work life balance, and opportunity is top notch. In fact, the worse we are in each of those areas, the more we will demand top notch people. This desire is fueled by the fact that our combined total comp as expressed in those areas is so low that we perpetually have trouble attracting, and can never retain top talent. And we’re sick of that, but we’re not going to do anything crazy like pay people above market rates to compensate for our other short comings, or have our managers improve and treat people better, or offer benefits that aren’t pure vanilla, or offer options like remote work or help with the commute or even reasonable hours and time off, nor will we ever entertain actually promoting anyone.”
This is for hiring managers mostly, it’s important for you to realize that when you make any of the above statements, the translation is what the recruiter hears if they’re worth their salt. They know bullshit, it’s easy to smell with little training. The only solution is honesty. Be honest with your recruiters and they will be honest with you.