As I’ve read Geoff’s post on his Friday night chat with a recruiter, I started thinking about the way we, recruiters and candidates, communicate with each other. Even when both parties are interested in a conversation, it does not go smoothly. Sometimes we read things wrong, we hear things wrong, we say things in such a way that there is room for another meaning, and then we are so disappointed when the conversation ends up in a totally different place from where we wanted it to end.
I remember speaking to a candidate for a sales role, and I told her that the targets were 50-75 units per year (as in fifty to seventy five). When she spoke to the Hiring Manager, she said that the targets were too high. She thought I told her fifteen units. Now it’s easy to blame the candidate for hearing what they want to hear, but how hard was it for me to double check that she understood the numbers correctly?
Last week I exchanged a couple of emails and phone calls with a candidate in Halifax, NS to discuss a local opportunity (hello again, Geoff!). He seemed interested, I sent him the job description, received his resume. The resume had Toronto address on it, but I did not pay attention to this. After a lengthy conversation he finally said that he was really interested in the opportunity, but alas! he was moving to Toronto as soon as he can. Not an extra day on the Atlantic coast. I think if location is a deal breaker for the candidate, they need to be upfront about it, but if I double checked at the beginning of our conversation why he had a Toronto address on the resume, I would not have wasted neither his, nor my own time.
I guess the moral of the story is that we must not be afraid to ask questions and make sure that what we say is what our interlocutor hears. There is a lot of advice on effective communication both as separate subject, or as parts of wider disciplines, such as leadership or time management, however it’s important to make effective listening a part of our daily life. I think the onus is on both parties to ensure understanding. My examples are not very dramatic and there was not much harm done, however in some cases not listening well and not ensuring understanding can lead to very dire consequences.