Listen, bro. I like you. And I wouldn’t tell you this if I didn’t like you. But don’t do this. I’m miserable. I’m going to quit soon. You don’t want this to be your life. There’s nothing good for you here.
– The guy giving me a ride home from a corporate recruiting dinner during my senior year in college.
Imagine all of the thoughts going through my head at that point. This is a 25 year old guy I looked up to and was trying to impress so he would say good things about me to his bosses. This is the guy one rung up from where I would have started in the organization. This is a guy working for a world class professional services organization.
You might think, wow, so you took his advice right? But sadly the answer is no. I was turned off, I thought he was jaded, and I briefly considered telling the firm to take him off the recruiting team.
When I look back at that experience, I realize he was the one person who shot me straight out of the many recruiting processes of which I was a part. And this is the problem with the way many organizations recruit new talent. They put on their “recruiting face” and try their best to convince the best talent to join their team.
Along the way, they wine and dine, talk the talk, and suck up to the top recruits. But they forget one little detail. Those recruits actually show up to work some day. And when they show up, they see what’s going on around them just like everybody else. You can sell an incredible culture, great people, and exciting work… But if a talented person shows up on day one and realizes that everything you sold her was a load of crap, they’re not going to stick around very long.
I look at it like this. If you were a 5-star football recruit deciding which college you would like to play football for, would you decide to join the team that sucks and has a terrible coach? Or would you decide to join the team that already has all stars and has a coach who is a level five leader? And if you were sold a great team, a great coach, and a great culture of winning, but arrived and found something completely different, would you stay? Or would you transfer?
You can pour any number of resources into recruiting. You can pour an equal number of resources into marketing. You can create an image that is revered and respected. You might even be able to trick some really talented people into joining your organization.
But if you have even one person who feels the way the guy did who tried to warn me about what I was getting into, then you’d be better off fixing what’s wrong internally before going after top talent. Otherwise you’ll end up with a whole bunch of very talented people running around telling people not to go to work for you…
And nobody wins when that happens.