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Remember the old phrase “be careful what you wish for!” It implies that sometimes, what we
wish for may not turn out as expected, and could even have negative or unintended outcomes.
In my experience, there is only one exception to this – and that is wishing for more french fries.
That granted wish has always ended up with a positive outcome in my life. But in recruiting,
wishing to win a job carries many potential consequences for a candidate and is oftentimes the
wrong outcome framing for a recruiting process.

I think most of us understand this concept as we have experienced it firsthand. I remember
early in my career that I was really excited about joining a top-tier consulting firm; the partners
were highly accomplished, the company boasted a good culture, the pay was above market,
and the opportunity existed for me to make a significant impact. I was hell-bent on winning the

I did win the job and within about 3 months I hated everything about it (which makes sense,
otherwise I wouldn’t be telling the story). Many of the partners were arrogant, disrespectful to
junior levels, and all-around miserable people. The culture appeared to value style over
substance, where relationships,not merit, dictated promotions, and the partnership group always
seemed unhappy with the support functions, even though those groups were making significant
impact for the business.

In reflecting on my interview process with the firm, I realize that I was accountable for making
the mistake. Of course the company wasn’t honest – they certainly were not going to be upfront
with me about how they treat non-partners, or share their disdain for non-revenue producing
employees. They were “selling” to me and they wanted to win as well. I was so obsessed with
being associated with this firm, I failed to do my due diligence.

At that point in my career, I fully realized that recruiting is a two-way street. That I am
responsible for ensuring that the opportunity aligns with my skills, attributes and values and that
the goal for me is making sure the match makes sense – that the role is on the path to my
achieving my career objectives, that the hiring company “gets me”, and that the company will
benefit greatly from my contributions. Recruiting is about win-win.

In retrospect, I gained a valuable life lesson in going through that ordeal. As a recruiter, I will be
the first to pull the plug on interviews if I feel that the fit will be unsuccessful for the candidate or
client. From personal experience, there is too much at stake and both parties need to get it
right. I no longer wish that a client hires my candidate, or wish that a candidate accepts a role.
My goal is to achieve success for both and respect the decisions, whatever they may be. Ever
since the day I reached that conclusion, I’ve narrowed my focus to simply wishing for more
french fries.

As a side note, I know that not getting an offer can create head trash for the individual.
Thoughts of “I’m not good enough” creep in and confidence levels decline. It’s for another writing but please don’t let the negativity take over. Companies and candidates are constantly
making questionable hiring decisions. In my opinion, both candidates and hiring managers
simply decide on what they believe is the best decision in their exact set of circumstances.

Hire Thought: The goal in the recruiting process is not to “win” a job but rather ensure that the
opportunity sets up both the individual and company for long-term success. This is a two-way
street and both parties need to conduct extensive due-diligence to assess fit. Do your part by
changing your framing when looking for other roles – it’s about finding an environment that aligns
with your career goals and values, and working with a company that both understands and
values your skills and attributes.

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