From the headhunting desk: top reasons you won’t take my call in 2020 (and how to tolerate me if you do)


Guest blog by Matt Matilsky, Senior Executive Recruiter, Phyton Talent Advisors | LinkedIn

There are thousands of reasons not to interview for jobs in 2020. Maybe there is a hover board to the nearest cold brew machine. Maybe your pay is breathtaking. Maybe you are just happy. A disclaimer that despite the following pitch, I’m not anti-perks, money, or quality of life.

What I am for is meeting potential, with success defined as happiness. Sixty-two percent of the workforce was discussing job interviews with co-workers, according to a JobList survey. The numbers tell us that even though we’re overwhelmed by the 3-10 love letters from headhunters most candidates report receiving per day, many of us also have pain points that some of them can solve.

But given that 9/10 of these pitches are often not even tangentially related to what we do and given the disruption of interviewing and the balancing act it demands you maintain with your current employer; the solution isn’t as easy as some recruiters might let on. There’s already plenty of content advising you to take advantage of the job market (examples herehere, and here). So instead, here are common reasons people choose not to – and advice on how to proceed if this applies to you.

Phyton Talent Advisors, as well as banks, hedge funds, tech firms, and other companies are winning headcount. This coincides with most of our bonuses being paid out (and the insufferable “New Year, New You” career tropes). Right now, the market is incredibly stacked in the candidate’s favor – but the noise is so deafening that it can be heard to feel anything besides overwhelmed.

Let’s start with relevant pitches, or lack thereof. Whether you are a Senior React Native Engineer in Manhattan getting hit up about a temporary systems analyst job in Georgia, or a CISO in Georgia being courted for a Senior React Native opening in Manhattan, most of the initial outreach candidates get is, as an understatement, not targeted enough. And once we get on the phone, too often we get a sales pitch instead of talking about the thing that motivated us to take the call in the first place.

There’s always a reason a candidate takes recruitment call, and it should be the center piece. Whether we’re seeking remote work, the right blend of leadership and hands-on contribution, a specific type of culture, fairer money, all of the above, or anything else – that should be the focus of conversation, and a recruiter owes you an honest assessment of how likely it is that a given opportunity fulfills your unique need.

Let’s say you’ve identified something that could be a good fit. Here’s where candidates start to hesitate to speak with the employer before ruling it out. Instead of asking the hiring manager questions in an interview, being productively skeptical, making their estimation on a potential new company, and ultimately vetting an opportunity before ruling it out or proceeding, many candidates feel like they’d be taking a leap of faith to even try. Sometimes that’s in their head, but, all too often, that’s due to external messaging.

The main reason most people won’t go on interviews in 2020 even if they want to is that interviewing can suck. It is a time commitment, requires strategic communication with your current boss, preparation, and vulnerability. Any change is disruptive and carries risk.

Candidates can solve most of these issues. While the recruitment industry will never collectively bring its A-Game and start sending better pitches, we can scan what comes our way without taking more than a few minutes a day. We can also push back on recruiters, whether external or internal, and ask for advice. If not given, we can weigh how excited we are about the opportunity they are representing and decide if it’s worth tolerating the experience.

Here’s the most important piece of advice you can get in 2020: be all in. That’s not to say you cannot get all the way to the end of a process before deciding that it doesn’t meet your requirements, in fact, you must before you’re given enough to make a quality assessment. But far too many candidates go halfway – accepting an interview opportunity before considering their availability, motivation, and willingness to see it through. If you simply don’t see something through because of inconvenience, not only are you depriving yourself of learning about something potentially life changing, you’re also handicapping your future self by failing to end things positively with a given employer. Better not to try.

Here’s something you won’t read in most New Year’s Resolutions career articles: this thing can be a pain in the ass. But if we aren’t navigating the market correctly, the numbers suggest the person sitting next to us is. If you can forgive the cliché: this could be the difference between good and great or a job and a career.

Happy hunting.