Bait and Switch?

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I went to the Cornell University Career Fair yesterday. In the 3.5 years I spent as a student at Cornell, I never went to any of the Career Fairs. Now I wish I had. It was fun. My goal at the fair was to talk to recruiters when they weren’t talking to students and offer them a free trial of One Day, One Job. Overall, the day was extremely successful. Most of the recruiters I spoke with were enthusiastic about One Day, One Job and seemed to really like the idea. Anyways, that’s not the point of this post.

My girlfriend also went to the Career Fair, since she’s a Senior looking for a job. She spoke with dozens of employers and got interviews and invites for dinner and drinks right on the spot. That sounds like good recruiting. Wine and dine the kids you really want and get a chance to meet them. Then read through the rest of the resumes and see if you missed anyone. My girlfriend was particularly excited about one company, which I won’t name, and was upset she had to turn down their invitation for dinner because of previous obligations (possibly a boyfriend in town). So she played phone tag with someone on the recruiting team, and arranged for breakfast this morning.

At the Career Fair, the representatives from this mystery company had told her that they were recruiting for a Sales Development Leadership Program. My girlfriend said that she was interested in a Marketing position and was told that they only offered those to MBAs, but that this Leadership Program would eventually lead into the same career track. The Leadership Program is 18 month long and would consist of working on a single product team for the duration. Well at breakfast, the story changed a little. That Marketing position that she envisioned herself working towards was now 3-5 years way. After the Leadership Program she’d spend the next 1.5-3.5 years working on exciting projects that would move her towards her goal of working in Marketing, right? Not quite. She’d be driving around in a car selling their product to businesses door to door. This is definitely not what she had in mind. My girlfriend is extremely talented, and has an impressive resume, but selling door to door would certainly not be one of her strong points. Maybe she had been confused about what she heard earlier in the day, since she had been talking with employers most of the day; however, the other girl at the breakfast was just at perplexed when she found out what this job actually is.

This company needs to buy a couple hundred copies of Recruit or Die.

So where did this mystery company go wrong? Did they miscommunicate what their position was really about? Or were they pulling a bait and switch? I’m guessing that this was a miscommunication, but it’s a really huge mistake to make. They are offering what I’m sure is a great job, but they were offering it to the wrong people.

To expect Ivy League graduate to stay in a door to door sales job for 3-5 years before they come close to doing something that interests them is ridiculous. It’s a bad investment. The new recruits will quickly get bored and they will leave. Now I’m not trashing this job, because I’m sure it’s an excellent opportunity for someone, but this company was selling it hard to the wrong people.

Now I know that some of you are probably thinking that Generation-Y needs to drop the sense of entitlement and pay some dues. That sounds great, but it’s not about us. It’s about this company and the business decision they are making by recruiting this way. It simply won’t work. The money they dump in to the Leadership Development Program will be lost when their new recruits leave after 6, 12, or 18 months. Whether the recruits are being selfish or entitled for leaving doesn’t matter; they will leave, and this company will pay the price. Moreover, my this company is now off my girlfriend’s list, and I’m sure she’s not the only one who was annoyed by the recruiting team’s failure to be upfront with her. This company’s booth was absolutely packed yesterday, but today that positive attention has been reversed. Their employment brand, at least at Cornell, will certainly take a hit.

So that’s why One Day, One Job is about upfront recruiting. Companies must allow self-selection to happen before the hiring process goes to far. Luckily for this company, they only invested some time at the Career Fair and a quick breakfast, but imagine losing the applicant in the third round interview because you misrepresented the position from the start. An information-rich job posting may lead to fewer applicants, but they will be more qualified and more interested in the job.

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One response to “Bait and Switch?”

  1. I also wanted to add that this company received 100s of resumes from Cornell students, yet they are only planning on hiring fewer than 10 candidates – so they are literally rejecting 99% of the applicants. Despite the mystery company’s problems they still must have an incredible employment brand. I wonder if their numbers will drop off in the Spring or next year?

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