Today a question for those Hiring Managers, Recruiters, Headhunters, Interviewers and employers who are responsible for the selection and hiring of applicants.
First, imagine a box of chocolates; you know, the ones that come with the pictures and descriptions of the contents. It’s a full box, none have been tampered with. Most people tend to look at the descriptions, match up what they read with what they want, reach in and choose one. That’s pretty much how companies hire when you think about it too. You know what you’d like, you do some research into your choices via resumes, social media and interviews, then make your selection based on which candidate which is most likely to fulfill your needs.
Over at the chocolate factories, every chocolate they produce has to appeal to at least some of their customers in order to continue profitable production. If the market shows a trend where consumers are consistently passing over a certain type of chocolate, it’s probable they’ll produce it in fewer quantities; perhaps dropping it entirely.
However, each one of those chocolates is in their own right, a quality produced piece. We might not like the coconut maroon, the fudge caramel or even the one with the maraschino cherry center, but they are in the variety packages because they’ll appeal to someone if not us. As for the last chocolate in the box, there’s nothing wrong with it; as soon as the first one is selected, one will inevitably be the last one remaining.
Ah, if they could only talk though. I’d guess that last piece would have started off feeling pretty good about itself; just as appealing as every other chocolate. As it’s neighbours get selected again and again, that chocolate’s self-worth might get shaky though. I can imagine it wondering aloud, “What’s wrong with me? Will I ever get taken? Give me a chance, you’ll see I’m pretty good; you’ll like me!”
If you think about it, the value of that last piece of chocolate might start off on equal footing compared to each other chocolate in the box, but as fewer and fewer remain, and ultimately it ends up being the last one, it’s value at that moment is higher than ever. For the right person, they’ll be thrilled to find the one they want most is the one remaining. For me, that last piece will always be the one that tastes like coffee. I’ll pass that one over every time. What’s that? That’d be one of the first ones you’d reach for? Point made.
So my question for you is whether or not you’d hire the last chocolate in the box. It’s unspoiled, unhandled. My guess in this scenario is that you wouldn’t. Probably because like me with the coffee tasting chocolate, no amount of time would have me take it. I’d go and get another box of chocolates; one which contains the kind I’m looking for. That coffee tasting chocolate will either go to a guest who drops in or out in the bin; even though there’s nothing inherently wrong with it.
And here my analogy of hiring and a box of chocolates breaks down and gets uncomfortably real. That last chocolate that nobody selects and gets trashed has no feelings; it’s a chocolate. Individually it’s under a dollar, maybe about 27 cents. So big deal. A person however? The one that gets rejected over and over, passed over time and again? The one that puts on their best face, extols their attributes and strengths as best they can and gets considered, evaluated and ultimately tossed aside; well, they’ve got feelings. That person’s value never truly diminishes, but the process – your process – can make them similarly feel undervalued.
The things you find unappealing as far as employment goes get in the way of taking a chance right? A decade of unemployment, lack of a car, poor credit history, lacking local experience, age, as examples. But every so often, you might take a nibble of a chocolate you’d otherwise pass on and in that moment, discover it actually has an appeal. Hmm… you might even take a second, larger piece, then in the end satisfyingly pop the remaining bit in and wonder why you didn’t try it earlier. You suddenly have a new favourite and want more.
Now suppose before you there was a woman with a 10 year gap on her resume. Prior to that gap she worked for 12 years with a single employer in the Financial Industry. The gap? No fault of hers; certainly not by choice. This was a time when her controlling, emotional and psychologically abusive spouse forbade her to work, relocated her away from her friends and family; manipulated her into isolation and full dependency on himself. He crushed and all but extinguished her self identity. Today, she’s left him, is rebuilding her fragile self-worth, still holding onto the belief there is good in the world and she’s deserving of a normal life.
Her resume is before you and she wants an interview to best make her case for hiring her. She’s got the education, past experience you said you wanted. It’s just that unexplained gap… Without a conversation, you’re never going to understand that 10 year gap. You could end up with a genuinely grateful employee; hardworking, trustworthy and trainable. Initially rusty yes, but will shine up nicely.
Come on…might surprise yourself and be glad you took a chance.