What If Tom Hanks Had Starred in Field of Dreams?

Jason Pankow Always Be Closing, Communication, Interviewing, Jason Pankow, Recruiting

I was speaking to a friend the other day who had been in the process of interviewing at a large software company (not Microsoft, in case you were wondering).  During this process, she remained interested in the position, but was still a little unsure if the grass was greener there than at her current company.  Before getting to the final interview day though, she pulled herself out of the process – so, of course, I had to ask her “Why?”

“I didn’t feel like I was being recruited.  They acted like I should have needed them a little too much,” was her response.

Interesting, right?  But, of course, you understand the attitude.  Recruiters should believe that what they offer is the best opportunity.   You need this job. You need to work at my company. You need me. How can we convince you to come here if we don’t, ourselves, believe in what we sell?  But on the flipside, I could also understand where she was coming from.  It’s one thing to believe you offer an awesome product.  It’s another to expect someone else to drink the Kool-Aid without first talking about the flying saucer.

There are two kinds of candidates in the world.  Candidates who are sourced and candidates who apply.  (Actually… then there are those who applied due to your sourcing efforts, but whatever.)  My friend’s situation was closer to the second scenario – she wasn’t necessarily on the market for a new job, but an opportunity was brought to her attention, and she applied.  This opportunity would be an advancement in her career and open her up to some experiences she wasn’t getting at her current company.  However, since she brought herself to the attention of the recruiter, she got the sense that she wasn’t as valued as a candidate.

A recruiter’s job consists of two main responsibilities, both equally important.  One: I need to find talent.  Two: I need to convince that talent to work here.  Working at Microsoft (in the Interactive Entertainment Business, no less) we get our fair share of candidates applying directly to our open positions.  But often, it’s too easy to confuse interest with instant commitment so no matter what, as recruiters, we need to remember that we are also being interviewed.  Even the biggest corporate fanboy candidate could be turned off if they don’t feel some mutual respect coming from across the table.  We should never take a person’s candidacy for granted.

Or you could think about it another way.  Did you know that Tom Hanks was originally offered the role of Ray Kinsella in Field of Dreams?  He turned the role down.  I don’t know why he turned it down.  Maybe it was money; maybe it was creative differences; maybe he was too busy developing his character for “The ‘burbs.”  Or…maybe he didn’t feel recruited.  Maybe he felt that his Oscar nominated performance in “Big” had earned him better casting experience.  Just think… if they did a better job of recruiting Tom Hanks, maybe “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” wouldn’t have happened.  Maybe would have even been spared the likes of “Waterworld” or *shudder* “The Postman“.

“Always be closing” is true even in situations where a candidate may not initially seem like your Rock Star.  Carry Underwood didn’t look like Grammy material when Simon Cowell first met her, but she is.  Jaime Foxx didn’t look Oscar worthy when he was Rockin’ our world on In Living Color, but he showed us.  Candidates deserve love.  Even the ones you didn’t directly recruit and just happened to apply online to your company.  And they may surprise you. Pleasantly.  Treat them like they’re needed, too.