I’m looking for a new challenge.
I must hear this every day and I’d say at least half the candidates I speak to, tell me that they’re looking for a new challenge. So, what is a new challenge?
I’m sure the candidate in question who said this to me won’t mind me writing about this. I hope he reads this as well because 6 years later, I think he’s just about got over what he describes as “the job from hell”. I first spoke to this candidate when we met for a face to face meeting. I was putting him forward for an interview with a global food manufacturer and as part of the process, I had assured them I would meet all candidates face to face, that’s what is expected when you work on a retained basis. We met one afternoon, at a service station on the M18, glamorous I know! He wasn’t successful in that role and he went on to do Interim for a while. I changed jobs and was recruiting for clients I’d not recruited for before when a senior role came on, within Supply Chain. I cast my mind back but before I had to, candidates from my previous life came knocking, including Mr. M18 as I shall refer to him as. “Well Jo, I’d like a new challenge”. He interviewed for this role and from memory, the turn around was pretty quick and before we knew it, they’d offered him the job, he was starting within a week or two, everyone was happy.
At the end of his first day, he called me. We then got into a habit of speaking quite regularly. He was doing a lot of driving, so it was good use of his time. And the stories he told me, wow. I had no idea what this business was like prior to recruiting for them. And in a weird way, I looked forward to him calling as some of the conversations with him, I literally had tears rolling down my face with laughter. I’ve seen and experienced some things in food manufacturing, but these stories were at another level. I shouldn’t have laughed as much as I did and, on each call, he’d say “What job have you got me into Jo?” It then became a standard joke that I’d say, “be careful what you wish for, you said you wanted a challenge and I got you one”. But I knew the toll it was taking on Mr. M18 and that wasn’t nice to see, despite the humour in the conversations. To my surprise and full credit to him, he stayed a lot longer than I thought he would, and longer probably than he thought he would as well.
So now when candidates say to me “I’m looking for a new challenge”, I’m so mindful of that saying. I always probe further, what does that mean to them? What do they want from the job as well as the company? What are their core values? Are they aligned with the company that I’m recruiting for? In the job that they’re currently doing, what don’t they enjoy and what do they love? When you start looking for a new job, take some time to get things clear in your head. Write your ideas down from everything to the job to location, salary, the whole remit. Give everything serious thought and do all of that before you get into a recruitment process. Any decent recruiter would rather you take another 24 hours to think things through before going for interview and then dropping out. And what does a challenge mean to you? Be so clear on what you want. Ask probing questions at interview, interviews are a 2 way process.
And what become of Mr. M18? He’s now a client of mine as we kept in touch. And during the summer of 2014 in one of our many conversations, we were talking about his love of cycling. And as Le Tour de France came to the Yorkshire Dales and went right past my Stepdads farm, I invited him and his family to stay and have front row seats to the worlds greatest cycling event. All the families sat in a field the night before, drinking too much, laughing about “I’m looking for a challenge”, getting bitten by little midges and the next day as we nursed our sore heads, we saw the worlds greatest cyclists within touching distance. Seeing that was truly spectacular and those memories will stay with me forever. Years later, when Mr. M18 jokes to the people I’ve recruited for him to “never trust Jo, she got me the job from hell”, I tell him to find another recruiter who could get him, his family and a load of his friends’ front row seats to one of the greatest sporting events in the world. And he goes quiet, and then we laugh. Because maybe I’ve redeemed myself a bit. Not in the cycling but by not walking away from a candidate who had indeed accepted a really really tough job.
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