I have been working with a recent graduate to get his CV up to scratch for his first job in his chosen field, we have produced a good, strong CV and also been through some careers coaching to ensure he is applying for the right roles and in the right way. As he started to apply for positions he found a great deal of interest from recruiters and direct from employers, so much so that he had a number of interviews lined up and was now being prepped ready for these when he came across an awkward situation with a recruiter.
To set the scene; he had already been through a 2 stage interview with company A and was due to go for a 2nd interview with company B when he received a call from the recruiter representing company A telling him he had an offer for the position – great news! However the candidate wanted to go for his 2nd interview with company B later the following day as he had a preference for this position/company. Being new to all this, the candidate explained his situation to company A recruiter and asked for a little time to consider his application. Bearing in mind 24 hours since his offer had been made hadn’t passed this shouldn’t be an issue. However recruiter representing company A then started to pile on pressure, stating that the offer may be withdrawn if he didn’t accept now and that he had a list of other suitable candidates which he could supply to company A.
The candidate called me and explained the situation asking what he should do, he feared being left in a position where he would have no offers at all should company B not make an offer and company A may withdraw offer. I pointed out that he should be in receipt of an offer letter as a minimum from company A but ideally they should be sending over a contract as there is no real offer until you have something in writing. I also pointed out that I doubted company A were threatening to revoke the offer and that it was likely the recruiter was saying this as a bullying tactic to get him to take his role – clearly his commission was at stake.
After a lengthy discussion we agreed that any company offering and withdrawing within 24 hours might not be the company you would want to work for, but giving them the benefit of the doubt we said a positive move forward would be to ask for the offer in writing for consideration (and buying some time for the other interview to take place). When the candidate asked the recruiter for an offer letter/contract the recruiter said it is not normal practice to send out such documentation without acceptance of the role. As the candidate regaled the conversation to me it became clear that recruiter A was getting rather desperate and saying anything to get the candidate to accept the role.
This kind of practice is not on and can really damage the reputation of the company the recruiter is representing, not to mention lose a good candidate for them, the good news is that the 2nd interview at company B was a success and an offer was extended on the spot to the candidate who has accepted and starts next week.
It is important to stay in control in these situations, do not be bullied into taking a role and always ask for an offer letter/contract as you may find yourself with no firm offers in place – you are entitled to take some time to consider an offer and it isn’t unreasonable to take a couple of days, keep your cards close to your chest about other opportunities when being pressured as this can lead to additional pushing from recruiters. Gut instinct should play a good part in decision making, don’t let fear of losing an opportunity make your decisions for you. If you are commanding a good level of interest elsewhere then you won’t be on the shelf long before more offers come your way.
So we’ve been in and out and back in and double dipped the recession, a lot have held on in their current jobs feeling it to be a safer bet than moving into the unknown – but in reality, just how safe is it to stay with an employer after a few years? The business may be booming and there is no sign of streamlining, however a story I hear all too often is that there appears to be no progression and roles are becoming a little stale as the projects are very much alike. As far as your career progression goes, the safe bet is actually making your aspirations grow stagnant. Most PM professionals enjoy the job because of the diversity and growth, and as much as your company may be signing off training to keep you interested and happy – is it really enough?
I was talking with a programme manager last week who told me he had realised he’d lost his spark because there just wasn’t enough of a challenge for him anymore. When he had started his role a few years ago at his current employer, he had significant challenges with disparate teams and projects not delivering on time or to budget. Having spent time to really understand the team and implement a stepped capability model into the business, he had brought the programme capability through to maturity and apart from the occasional anomaly he has a smooth running ship. He explained that he’d hung in with the business as the job market was unstable and felt the security of his current position was enough to keep him interested. But as time has flown by he realises that he needs to do something against his risk averse comfort zone and take a leap of faith to secure a new challenge and get his spark back. Although he has a great deal of loyalty to his current company, he knows that the current structuring means he will continue in the same role with no chance of progression until “someone dies” and as the PPM team and structure are looking healthy for the foreseeable future his only option is to move on.
Is this you? Are you feeling trapped in a comfort zone which is slowly killing your passion for PM? The market is always up and down, there is never an ideal time to jump ship but as a good PM you will be used to researching and weighing up the risks, so use these skills to look at new opportunities and relight that fire.
This week we have a great question from a client looking to get an insight into the reality of the job market during reported “troubled times” with the economy.
Hi Nicola, do you know what is happening with jobs in project management at the moment? I’ve noticed a distinct drop in advertised positions over the summer holiday period, is this normal as I saw a healthier jobs board over the same period last year?
Judith; Programme Consultant – Bristol
Hi Judith, thanks you for your question – yes it has been a quiet summer for advertised jobs in the PM field. There are a number of reasons for this and the obvious ones are the Olympics and Paralympics taking over a great deal of attention, however the media were finally reporting upbeat news which normally tends to have a positive effect on recruitment. Once the doom and gloom stories of the economy shrink back – a sense of confidence from hiring managers’ emerges. To be fair I haven’t noticed a huge dip in project management roles across the board, a number of independent job boards seem to be publishing a healthy volume of new PM related roles on a daily basis and having been in touch with a fair few senior managers at large blue chips, I can confirm that hiring personnel is not on hold generally. In fact I have discussed many fantastic positions with these clients and noticed a trend of recruitment being taken in-house. This cuts back on the fees for engaging recruitment firms and in their opinion saves them time and money – they have in-house recruiters / HR who can do the job so why look outside. I can see their point and for roles which are not so niche and are well paid, they shouldn’t struggle to attract strong applications. However the harder to fill positions will still be dished out to recruitment specialists eventually; however they will try to fill the roles themselves, sometimes for months before taking external services.
Businesses are turning away from the major job boards and relying on their own websites, twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to advertise / attract talent. This makes your job a little bit more challenging as you need to research organisations in your field, find roles and apply direct. Of course a great deal of the in-house recruitment teams are being trained up to use LinkedIn as a tool for finding talent too – clearly a time to dust off your profile and make sure it is up to date and searchable. The specialised job boards are offering very competitive fees for advertising roles on them so it is important to keep an eye on them too.
The advertised roles are certainly picking up now we are heading into autumn and speaking with a number of specialist PM recruiters – there is a positive impression that the recruitment market is picking up.