***Sorry, folks. This is not dedicated to Kevin; we're still blissfully in love. Maybe next time?***
I don't care who you are. Every girl, at some point, has the distinct privilege of dating a tool; that is, a man-friend that isn't nearly as into you as you'd like to think. This disinterest (that everyone can usually see except for you) can manifest itself a variety of ways. Whether Mr. BF is not returning your calls, texts, emails, and smoke signals, not paying you any attention (or only paying you attention when he feels like it), rationing out his affections like they are some scarce resource you might never get again, or never saying those three little words (oh come on, you know the ones...) that you dropped months ago, chasing after someone that isn't into you well...sucks. It doesn't matter if you put in years trying to make a relationship something that it isn't and never (ever) will be or if you only invested a few months, weeks, days (you get the idea); when it finally comes to an end, it hurts. You rack your brain trying to understand where things went wrong, how you missed the signals that were so blatantly obvious to everyone else, and it finally occurs to you that it all boils down to you not being pretty enough...(just kidding)...it all boils down to managed (or not) expectations. Clearly at some point, both you and your man-friend, did a really crappy job of sharing your expectations and things went south. How was he supposed to know you wanted to run off into the sunset together if you didn't tell him? How was he supposed to know you are a really big fan of bubble gum pop music (and wanted him to like it, too) if you didn't share that helpful little nugget? And how were you supposed to know that he really preferred large chested ladies if he didn't tell you? And that clingy behavior is so not his thing? And that he really didn't want a girl that longed to be a stay at home mom?
No wonder it didn't work out!
While I am mostly referencing the wonderful world that is dating, working with candidates that aren't as into you sucks just as much. You see, dating is really a heck of a lot like staffing and setting expectations is just as important. We might not be getting the physical satisfaction out of the relationship (my boyfriend was the exception...though, meeting him at a User Group doesn't make him a "candidate"...does it?) but we still get very involved with our candidates and really do care about their livelihoods (ok, some care about cashing in, too). Like any romantic relationship, inevitably, our egos also get thrown into the mix which makes rejection (and we get it pretty frequently) not a pretty thing to deal with. After a while you start to understand that this is part of the industry; try as you might, you will not be able to help everyone, and sometimes, even the ones you do end up helping, might not want your help. Until you learn this, and really learn how to manage your expectations (and those of the candidates), you will be met with disappointment after disappointment. In most interactions, it isn't "normal" to lay everything out there immediately so it is a little counter-intuitive, but once you get in the hang of it, it makes your life a lot easier.
So, what do I mean by setting expectations you ask? (I know I ramble and can be hard to follow...)
As a recruiter, it is important to let your candidates know your process. If you prefer to meet them in person before chasing opportunities, let them know that. If you'd like to have a conversation every day, let them know that, too. If you would like them to name their first female child after you, say so. Make sure you clue them in to the submittal and interviewing process. Educate them on double submittals. If you want them to call you after their interviews, let them know. If if you want them to have open and honest communication with you about everything (from availability, to rate, to other opportunities), let them know that, too. Recruiters are often surprised at the offer stage with candidates fess up at last minutes about other interviews they have, offers they've been extended, and last minute rate adjustments (ex: I want a lot more money now...like $10 more an hour); sometimes this is unavoidable but often times, this is due to expectations not being set on the front end. As a result, the relationship deteriorates and the end result is not what you desired.
As a candidate, it is equally as important to let your recruiter know what you want and how you'd like to work. In addition to setting the expectation of how frequently you'd like to communicate, it is imperative to clearly define what you are looking for in terms of rate (and be honest about it!), duration of opportunity, commute, and the kind of opportunity itself. If you are targeting one type of technology or title, say so. If you plan to interview at a handful of places before you commit to one opportunity, let us know. If we send you on an interview and there is something that rubbed you the wrong way, clue is in to that, too. Rate is a big one. We like to get you as much money as we can (within reason, of course). If you were making $60.00 an hour W2 at your last position and would like to make at least that, fess up. We get it. Everyone wants to make money. The thing is, we can't help you get the rate you really want if you don't tell us upfront. Last minute surprises are never any fun, particularly when it entails us going back to the client to get more money when we could have addressed it in the beginning. Also, if you really prefer permanent positions, let us know that, too. It makes no sense for us to submit you to a three month contract assignment when you really want something long term. I know it is normal to want to please others, sometimes so badly to the point you overlook what is best for you, but recruiters are here to help. If there is something in particular you need or want or don't feel comfortable with, tell us. We appreciate that you want to make us happy but we want to make you happy, too. Honest communication is always the best way to go, even if it is momentarily uncomfortable. Makes sense, right? Thought so.
Regardless of the type of relationship, as long as expectations are set upfront, you have a higher chance of getting a favorable result (like not wasting your time with a "bad boyfriend"). Whether you are trying to lock that man down and get him to drop the "I love you" or lock down those candidates and get them to drop the "I will accept", it all boils down to detailing what you expect before you really begin your romance. If you do that and it still doesn't look like it is going to pan out, don't beat yourself up. Instead, cut them loose and move on, as daunting as that might seem at first. Because you know what? There is someone out that that will appreciate you for you...love of cheesy pop music, clingy behavior, stalking tendencies, stay at mom ambitions and all. After all, just like MamaOrlandoTechNuts used to tell me, as soon as you ditch that bad boyfriend, you are one step closer to finding the keeper.
***For the record, I'd rather shoot myself in the face than be a stay at home mom (though no offense to those that are one) and while I do favor AC/DC, Zeppelin, and CCR, I will fess up to listening to Lady Gaga. And liking her. Thank you, Kevin, for not only being OK with that, but for loading up your Zune with endless Lady Gaga ditties for me. If that isn't love, I don't know what is <3***