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Before starting a new job, make sure it’s the same one you applied for

Before starting a new job, make sure it's the same one you applied for

I hear this from candidates time and time again. They apply for a position with an organisation directly. They are invited in for an interview with an internal recruiter. The interviews go well and they are offered the role. Unfortunately it doesn’t take long at all before they realise that the job they’re being asked to do is nothing like the one they were ‘sold on’.

This happened to Liam recently. He was in the fortunate position in that he was being quite actively pursued by a number of fast-growing businesses in San Francisco.

One particular strategic/research role stood out and he accepted it since he felt it was the one with the most potential in terms of his own professional development. Within two weeks he realised he was just in a sweat-job. Pressured by extortionate KPIs and micromanaged to the nth degree, he been brought on board as a glorified telemarketer.

Not being one to ever give up, Liam waited until he was hitting his targets and had proven that he could do what was expected of him before he quit. “I just thought they might take more notice if I quit while I was nailing it, as opposed to quitting because I was struggling”.

An interesting way to look at the situation. But here’s what went wrong (according to Liam).

“I always knew consultants working with recruitment agencies had targets. But I didn’t realise that internal recruiters clearly have targets too. The ones I dealt with had evidently said whatever it would take to get me across the line”. Liam had been fooled by the internal recruiters. He felt deceived and manipulated. “I was clearly just a metric helping the internal recruitment team meet their quota”.

He’d been so seduced by the internal recruiters’ ‘sell’ of the opportunity and all the potential that came with it, that the lure of the role had been far too strong to resist.

On the bright side, Liam has already shared with me the strategy that he’s going to implement when he’s at offer stage the next time around. 

“I’m just going to ask to spend a few hours shadowing or observing someone currently in the job. Or at least ask to take a peak behind the ‘smoke screen’ so that I can see what it’s really like beyond the funky meeting rooms. If I’d been given a chance to see the environment in action first hand, it wouldn’t have taken me long at all to put two and two together”

For anyone searching for a new role, being made an offer can be exciting. Unfortunately many job seekers will accept in haste fearing that if they don’t, they may not be presented with another opportunity for quite some time.

While it might not be possible for everyone to give up a few hours just to get a “look in” behind the scenes, every job seeker has a right to ask to speak with other team members working in the role in question, or alongside it. If the internal recruiter or line manager says that it might be difficult to arrange (even) a half hour coffee with one or more existing team members, then this should be a major red flag that all might not be as it seems.

The internal recruitment process should always include a ‘meet the team’ component – and not just once you’ve signed on the dotted line.

More reading:

3 great questions to ask in a job interview
Interview tip: Tell me about yourself?
What lies behind your career development door?
Where did the ‘human’ go in Human Resources?
How to stay positive during your job search
If you want a great next role, get ill first

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