Selling “Strategic” Opportunities to Candidates
This past weekend I was talking to a friend of mine that is an HR Manager at a tech company. We used to work together as recruiters, and she has moved on. She is currently looking at other opportunities, having been at her company about a year. It isn’t that she doesn’t like the people she works with or the product, it was the fact that she was made some false promises when she interviewed: mainly that a major part of her impact to the company would be “strategic”.
And I’m here to tell you, this is one of the number one myths I see recruiters and hiring managers buying into with candidates and often even themselves. Either it’s a myth or a gross misunderstanding of what “strategic” business practices look like.
A. D. Chandler quantified the basic business definition: “In management theory, … the determination of the basic long-term goals and objectives of an enterprise, and the adoption of courses of action and the allocation of resources necessary for carrying out these goals”. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategy)
The keys here are long term goals and allocation of resources necessary. I have been in the business world for well over 20 years, and in that time I think I can honestly say I have seen only ONE company that actually effectively carries out long-term HR business strategies with any success, and that company is Microsoft. I will admit that I certainly have not worked at every company there is, but I’ve got experience at more organizations than most recruiters my age. And most of them don’t plan for “long term” business or allocate the necessary resources in terms of human capital.
Especially among the GenY work force, being part of the driving force affecting business is one of the consistent professional objectives for accepting a new job or remaining at a company. As recruiters, we work with our hiring managers to try and understand each job in terms of how it relates to the organization, the business, and industry overall. We have to be able to give candidates a fairly clear picture as we describe the role and opportunity to them. Smaller companies truly do have more opportunities to make an immediate impact, which is why working for a smaller company can often be a more satisfying career choice. But smaller companies often don’t have the luxury of “strategic business” beyond 2-4 quarters, which is not a long-term strategy. It is a tactical plan based on revenue and market/industry forecasting. And upper-management may have significant input on defining those goals, but when candidates are thinking about strategy and industry impact for the next 2-3 years, there is a definite miscommunication.
There really isn’t “fault” here, but a misuse of terminology. Candidates want to have “impact” and work for “strategic” organizations. Managers may consider business planning 2-3 quarters out to *be* strategic, but it truly is not. The sooner recruiting and HR can help educate the business as to realistic communication with candidates, the better off everyone will be and perhaps candidates will understand sooner in their professional careers the reality of being a “change agent” and be content to make smaller, incremental changes that will reap more immediate rewards.