Intelligent, adaptable, focused, ambitious, organised, team player, highly motivated – these are all words that you see every time you look at a job description listed under “candidate qualities”. It is all too rare to see the word “honest” but this is the key quality that validates all of your other qualities.
Every time we meet a candidate or client either to take the brief or conduct an interview we are always focused on this key word.
A client has to be honest about the job, over sell the opportunity in order to hire that key individual and 3 months down the line the candidate will see the reality and the trust will have been broken – the next time a headhunter calls their head will be turned. Better that the client is honest and fails to get the target candidate than go through the expensive and disruptive process of making the hire only to lose them and a slice of reputation 3 months later. Be honest, give the prospective hire a clear picture of your business and the challenges it faces – this way the candidate can make a lucid assessment of whether they will be able to meet the brief. All too often, when approaching prospects we hear on asking why they would be interested to leave their current company that the company has not met their obligations or that the company promised them a chance of promotion and it has not happened. You may have had good intentions to make that promise but merely overlooked it but if there are no clear lines of communication to clarify that then the employee will see it as dishonesty, a breakdown in trust. Be honest at the outset and you avoid these expensive and disruptive mistakes.
By the same token a candidate has to be honest about their skills and capabilities. Clearly, personally or professionally, everyone likes to be portrayed in the best light possible. In these tough economic times every client is even more focused on making sure that their next hire has absolutely everything on their tick list. This brings with it a pressure to portray yourself as well as you can – you may have been a part of the team that brought in that huge deal but may be tempted to promote yourself as the key contributor – equally you may have worked closely with the marketing team but then promote yourself as a marketer. Do not pretend to be something you are not – you will put yourself under enormous pressure, the company you are now working for will have recruited you for skills you do not have – the outcome is simple – you will be looking for another job within 3 months. On the other hand, if you had been honest and said I am a fantastic sales director, always hitting target and constantly developing a young sales team etc but whilst I have experience of working with the marketing team I really could do with developing that part of my skillset then the hiring company will know what they are getting and can make an informed decision. You may not get the job but you will avoid the pressure and the ignominy of losing your job or you may get the job and the company will spend time developing your marketing skills. Either way honesty will always give you the best outcome.
Also a little note to us, the recruiters – do not exaggerate a candidate’s ability to a client just to get your fee – you are having such a detrimental effect on a company’s future and an individual’s life. Furthermore that client will never use you again.