Overselling a Job

An often-overlooked aspect of the HR and recruitment functions is the sales/marketing element inherent in recruiting employees. Of course employers want to hire the best, brightest, and most diligent workers, but jobseekers also want to work for the best employers and do the most prestigious, lucrative, and rewarding job they can find.

Expectation Gaps

Some HR and recruitment professionals are all too adept at this marketing element—so adept, in fact, that new recruits at many organizations often experience an expectation gap between the job they thought they were accepting and the one they end up performing.

“Starting a new job always means taking a leap of faith – at best it’s an informed gamble – but sometimes roles can be oversold from the get-go,” writes Joanna York in an article for BBC Worklife.

“Recruiters and hiring managers might say a position comes with better working conditions, more responsibility or opportunities for progression that never materialize,” York notes. “They might make the role sound more meaningful or rewarding than is really the case. And new starters might only find out the reality of the job once they’ve already committed.”

Getting Real

To some extent, recruiters have a tendency to be a bit salesy when describing an open position to a potential candidate, but the tight labor market plaguing employers over the last couple of years has exacerbated the problem. “One 2022 survey of more than 2,500 workers from careers site The Muse showed that nearly three-quarters of respondents had started jobs, only to find that the position was very different to what they had been led to believe,” York continues.

While some recruiters might justify a little puffery if it means landing a great employee, it’s important to remember that the United States is an at-will employment environment, meaning employees who find the job they accepted isn’t the job they thought they were offered can simply quit. And the tight labor market means they can make that decision with a fairly high level of confidence they’ll find a replacement fairly easily.

HR and recruitment professionals need to be able to “sell” open positions to attractive candidates, but they should take care to do so within the bounds of reality. Overselling a job may land a new recruit, but it often does so at the cost of a disgruntled employee with little engagement and a high likelihood of attrition.

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.

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