Level up with transparency

Where do you picture yourself in 10 years? Do you already have a plan?

You’ve finished your degree, cool.
You’ve managed to get a good job, check.
Then, two promotions, kudos.
Engagement, nailed it.
Wedding, perfect. Next?
Move to a bigger house and raise two-point-one-kids to ensure the generational renewal.
Holidays in Algarve every year and…
… retirement.

Editor’s Note: this article was originally published in [June, 2018] and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

Picture perfect?

Well, it may be for some, but it doesn’t have to be the same for you. If your life plans are not this straightforward, why are you being shown career plans like this: trainee, junior, senior, team lead, project manager, product owner.
Level-up-for-the-sake-of-it only makes sense when you’re holding your game controller.

Would be great. But not quite

Not all of us have to follow the very same path, nor do we have to aspire to it. The market dynamics turn developers, DBAs, sysadmins, and all IT professionals into highly valuable assets. Since the supply doesn’t match the demand, the job offers are multiplied and come with plenty of benefits.

But when you’re promised unattainable hopes and dreams, it’s only natural to feel tricked. The result? Lack of confidence in the industry and its players. Alea iacta est (the die is cast), the situation will be very hard to handle, with candidate retention being the main issue.

Bad news: you’ll always be cold

It’s just like a short-blanket syndrome. As recruiters we have a decision to make. Do we protect the quick selection of a candidate in exchange for his/her confidence in the industry and its players? Or do we guarantee transparency while sacrificing the recruitment agility? Do we embrace the cultural match and a thorough knowledge of the candidate in exchange for not filling an urgent position? If we cover our heads then our feet get cold. One side always struggles. You have to pick your poison.

Two different strategies are used. What do they have in common? Both guarantee that the candidates fill the client’s open spots. Staffing can be just like a trendy diet or a true lifestyle. The choice is simple: do we want quick or long-lasting results?

Cut the B$

You probably already know the truth behind any misleading advertising of miraculous pills and teas that promise to help you drop 45 pounds in two weeks. Well, some staffing situations are unfortunately similar. It’s always nice to show those eye-catching charts or diagrams of preestablished career progressions. But reality doesn’t work like that. Cut the B$ and you’ll lose those 45 pounds in a blink of an eye. These expectations can hardly be matched IRL due to the speed required for the candidate replacement process, which fuels the whirlwind of positions that are constantly opening and closing, which, in turn, generates… you guessed it, disappointment.

If the recruitment’s top priority is speed, a cold wave will hit the cultural fit, the knowledge about the candidate, the information and the credibility. But, yes, the results will indeed be faster. As quick as fad diets, where the promised 45 pounds are regained in a short amount of time, with 10 more as a little sneaky extra. Conquering candidates at any cost to fill positions that keep popping up over and over again is not a sustainable plan. Whenever one decides to place a candidate in a position without properly knowing the whole context, that can create a source of instability for the the end clients’ projects, because one thing is for sure: the candidate will feel shaky, unaccomplished, sticking out like a sore thumb. What happens next? Nothing but a vicious circle of bound to fail recruitment processes. The motivation behind the process is wrong right off the bat. This lack of transparency, honesty, and truthfulness used to conquer candidates takes a massive toll on the trust and credibility of the staffing company, the end client, and the entire industry.

Each recruitment process is a continuous process of conquering and building a genuine relationship with the candidate. This implies having the transparency of saying “No” to certain positions that remain unfilled in order to give preference to the candidate’s human needs and professional expectations. But, in the long run, the return is greater. Once there is a match, the project’s long-term continuity is ensured. The sense of loyalty is much more solid. Trust is built on transparency. Regardless of how long it takes… ’cause time is money, and you cannot waste anyone else’s. We can only invest our time when we’re confident that we can build genuine relationships. There are no miraculous teas. No placebo pills. Only the good old “blood, sweat and tears” of those who replace yo-yo dieting with a healthy lifestyle. Hustle hard, make it worth your while.

Turn the weaknesses into strengths

To reach the legitimacy of transparency, we must acknowledge the weaknesses of our own abilities. The truth is that no manager (or ambassador, in our case) can promote a candidate solely based on their length of service or ambition. That is a super outdated mentality.
A developer does not automatically become a project manager because they want to. This may be crushing and pessimistic but it’s the reality. It is a difficult transition, which requires a special combination of factors.

First and foremost, the candidate must have that will, the client and his project likewise, and the staffing company has the responsibility to find the best solution for all the parts. If the company presents the candidate with the possibility of being a project manager and the former has the proper profile and potential to fill that position (since the candidate has been following the product and the business for some time, is thoroughly acquainted with the project and what is to be developed), then we have an ideal level up opportunity.

Right place, at the right time. The key here is precisely a combination of willingness and necessity. If the company does not require a certain role, this position will never pop up. The same firmness must emerge when the candidate doesn’t want to fill it. Even if the candidate is a top-notch technician, that doesn’t mean they are interested or have the right profile to cope with the responsibilities of being a team lead,
no one should have to deal with the pressure of filling a position that they are not fond of, instead, one should take time and properly analyze any career changes.

Yup, this is a PSA:

Here is a request to everyone in the IT recruitment industry: transparency. Simple, huh?

Transparency solves everything. The candidates feel there is enough room to share their expectations and ambitions. Clients have the openness to assess whether and under what conditions they would be willing to hire or promote a candidate. Recruiters have the transparency of sincerely sharing the instability, conditions, uncertainties and pains of both parties.
Candidate retention (one of the top issues faced by both the staffing sector and its end clients) is therefore guaranteed, since transparency becomes a tool to identify the right candidate among the whole talent pool. And, when every card is on the table, the trust of the candidates is also assured.

Karma is a biatch

That “Blame the game, not the player” mentality is gonna bite you in the ass. If you happen to hire someone relying on lack of honesty and transparency, your talent will certainly abandon your ship as soon as the opportunity comes. If you multiply this situation by the number of candidates in the market, sooner or later this reality will logically end up affecting your company and clients. What goes around comes around. You’ll lose your street cred and become a persona non grata in the field. All of this is unsustainable in the long run, both for the company that follows this faulty procedure and for its competitors, which are seen as equal for sharing the same pond. Staffing then starts to be perceived as an industry to avoid.

On the other hand, when we fulfill our transparency promise and go the extra mile to thoroughly know the candidates, we can attain something more valuable, their trust.
Even in the worst scenario, the one where the candidate opts for a different proposal, we know that we can get him to recommend us to his friends and colleagues, given that a trust-based and long-lasting relationship was built. Priceless. A trustworthy process is much more time-consuming. It is undoubtedly hard to make someone truly believe in the company.

The recipe?

Being dedicated to candidates, building close relationships, having the necessary openness, transparency, authenticity, and coherence.
The bad news is … For this kind of level up there are no available cheats.

Wake up and smell the coffee: sign up for KWAN and stay woke.