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Go to Menu Avoid The Sirens' Song:
How to qualify a recruiting call
By Nick Corcodilos

In The Odyssey, Circe the witch tells Odysseus that in his travels he must at all costs avoid the Sirens, a host of beautiful voices singing enchanting songs from a lonely island. They were irresistible. But, if heeded for only a moment, they caused sailors to abandon all good sense and caution — until they crashed their ships on the rocks and were destroyed.

So it is with the recruiting call, whether it comes on the phone or over lunch, whether it's from a recruiter or a manager. When an employer sings out to you, bind yourself to the mast like Odysseus did so that you can enjoy it — but don't let the Sirens make you throw your good sense to the wind. Going where you're led, rather than where you've chosen to go, can end in disaster.

Don’t get lured into questionable waters.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when job hunting is that they interview for the wrong job. This happens surprisingly often. What's even more troubling is that after quitting or getting fired from the job, the person wonders what just happened. The employee blames the employer, and the employer goes back to square one in the hiring game.

But, if the employer is responsible for singing that promising song, it's usually the job hunter's naivete or wishful thinking that leads him to crash on the rocks. There are ways to avoid such a costly mistake, and it's worth recognizing some of the signs of danger before you're too close to avoid it.

Interest comes out of the blue. Usually, the request for an interview comes out of the blue. A person isn't actively looking, a friend recommends a job, a headhunter calls, or an old reply to an ad finally gets attention. In all these scenarios, it isn't the worker seeking the position; it's the employer who is reaching out. Flattered, the person doesn't ask, “Am I really interested?” Instead, he thinks, “How do I get time off to interview?”

The bait is flattery. This is great, you might think — we want employers to call us. It means they're motivated to treat us with respect and enthusiasm. That’s a faulty assumption. Employers are always trawling for good people. Just because you're in their net today doesn't mean you're about to have a sunny interview on a lovely beach — or that the job is some sort of paradise. Flattery is big bait, and most people swallow it without thinking.

The offer is bigger than your interest. In such a situation, you might find yourself considering an offer from a company where you ordinarily would not consider pursuing a job. Suddenly, the decision process is focused on the salary, the perks and the full-court press made by the employer. In the excitement, what falls by the wayside is a careful inspection of the work, the business, the people and the career consequences. People get carried away, and I believe this is one of the primary reasons people change jobs as often as they do: they take the wrong job because it was offered. Not that people are stupid. They just fall victim to a common misconception: that getting an employer to want you is half the career-development battle. Why, when the employer calls you, you're in like Flynn, right? What could be better?

What a Sirens' song!

Go to Part 2
Sweet songs turn sour: how to avoid flattery

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