In May at the WorkHuman conference, my friends Robin Schooling and Bill Boorman did a talk on recruiting. One thing that Bill said that has stuck in my mind ever since is that when it comes to fit, there is a person for every environment. There are people who are willing and able to work in even the most toxic environment.
Last month I filled an Office/HR Manager position for a very challenging environment. The hiring managers interviewed 8 candidates. During both my pre-screen and the onsite interviews with the candidates we were very honest about what this person would be walking into. While not a toxic environment, one that was very demanding in a culture that is very direct and could be perceived as aggressive. For some of the candidates, the truth about what they would be facing was enough for them to say that it wasn’t the right place for them.
For others, and ultimately for the person who was hired, that type of environment was refreshing and invigorating.
The lesson I learned while recruiting for that role made it very clear that there is a candidate out there for most any environment. The key is being honest in the recruitment process and asking very targeted questions to ensure you are finding the right one.
If the environment is challenging for one reason or another, be honest.
If the CEO yells and there is no changing that, be honest.
If the leadership doesn’t really put an emphasis on employee development and just wants people to come in and do their job, be honest.
If the hours are long and the work is hard, be honest.
If the company is in a transition phase and need to get over a tough hurdle, be honest.
Whatever it is, bumps, lumps and all, be honest.
But then you have to be honest about the good. What would make someone want to work in all of this? Is it the chance to get in on the ground floor of something that will be amazing in time? Is it the chance to work with some of the smartest minds in your industry, even if they are jerks? Is it the chance to eventually build something that is far different than what it is today if everyone can just get through this part?
I often hear from HR leaders who say they struggle to hire or retain hires because of the environment they are in. Usually I find this to be because they are not completely honest during the process and then the hire sees the reality they are facing and feel duped. That is not a way to start a new job.
It may take a little longer to find the right person when your environment isn’t one that would land you on a Fortune Best Places to Work list, but that doesn’t mean the right person isn’t out there.
It’s a weird truth to comprehend, but that doesn’t make it any less valid.