….assumptions

twice this week, I had comments from people that involves their “assumptions.” One, was from a candidate I placed about six weeks ago who found out that the assumptions she made about the financial condition of the company she went to work for were totally wrong. The second situation came from the other side of the desk. A regional vice president whom we placed a senior salesperson with called to say that after six months of employment the company became aware that the candidate/employee had nowhere near the capabilities or experience that they had assumed he had. And he is failing miserably. (We’re going to replace the guy for no additional fee.)

Now, we are all subject to making assumptions. We have to assume that people are telling us the truth. We have to assume things are the way they look to be. If we spend our whole lives questioning and doubting people and situations we would succumb to paralysis by analysis.

In the first case, it would’ve been very easy for our candidate to ask a few deeper questions of a few more people in the interviewing process. A quick check of the company’s credit rating would have given us all a better indication of their financial situation. She is going to try to work through the issues, but the shock of finding out what the company’s financial problems were have caused her to emotionally back up a little bit. She is also now worried about what other things they may not have told her. She admits that she made an assumption that would’ve been very easy to confirm. Other than that she absolutely loves the job and the people.

We preach and advised people all the time that there are always going to be some surprises in a new job. The wise and/or experienced professional expects these kind of surprises. Things from the inside are never quite the way they appear from the outside…sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worst. (I got a call just yesterday from a candidate I placed who started his new job last Monday. He called to tell me that he is absolutely overwhelmed and afraid that he may not be able to up to the expectations of the people that who him. I laughed! I told him that the last three people that I placed with that company over the last four years called me and said exactly the same thing. I told him he had to expect that drinking through a firehose was going to be very overwhelming. I told him to relax, let the game come to him and give it at least six weeks.)

The second situation is a little more difficult. Candidates/new employees are very much like companies, they may appear to be one thing on the outside but when they get inside they are different. Any employer with any experience hiring knows this. Any hiring authority who claims the candidate they hired is exactly what the expected Is lying. Again, sometimes we’re pleasantly surprised by what we find in a new employee and, sometimes, a bit disappointed.

Most of the issues on both sides of the desk are reasonable enough that most people can work through them and everything will work out just fine. Unfortunately, sometimes the issues are so overwhelmingly negative, a change has to be made, as in the second situation. It is very unfortunate because both parties are really good people but the assumptions our client made about the candidate and his ability to do the job and some of the detailed knowledge the candidate needs to possess to be successful Just aren’t there. We can’t even be sure that this was a mistake of assuming. But, our client believes it is.

Now, again, there’s no way that a candidate can know everything about a prospective job nor can a prospective employer know everything about the possible new employee. But, the answer to this problem is very simple. Each party should sit down and think, “what assumptions am I’m making?” Then write out those assumptions and confirm them or deny them by asking lots of questions of either the candidate, his or her previous employers, his or her references or, in the case of the candidate, asking deeper questions of the prospective employer and/or the people who work at the company being interviewed with.

I know, it’s easy to sit there and say, “will everybody knows that!” But remember the old adage that “when you ass-ume you make an ass of me an ass of you.” Whatever your assumptions are, verify them. It’s really easy.

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