There was a time in my life, a very long time ago; I actually wondered what it would be like to have a hickey. Granted I was probably a pre-teen and I grew up in a very blue collar environment, but the wonder of it was there. How did it happen? What did it feel like?
The funny part about hickeys is as soon as you get one, you immediately regret it and don’t want it! Fortunately, I wasn’t one that ‘hickied’ easily, so I didn’t have any major hickey problems in my life. But I know of some folks who did!
The problem with hickeys is that they’re usually very visible. You know what they are when you see them. Yeah, right, a curling iron put that silver dollar sized bruise on your neck… No one buys it. As Talent Acquisition Pros we get to see hickeys every single day on our candidates. As candidates' hickeys take on different forms, from when you were kids, but they’re just as visible!
It’s even worse when one of our own employees gets a hickey, internally, especially if this person had "High-Potential" and was an "A" player. The big difference between an internal hickey and a candidate hickey is usually the internal hickey is only visible by us in Talent Acquisition and HR. But when certain things happen, professionally, we tend to want to cut ties and distance ourselves from these internal folks. Interestingly though, this hickey can't be seen when you look at their resume or interview them in person, but it's a hickey they can't get rid of. So, barring a life-turtleneck how does one cover this puppy up?
Determining the relative value of candidates
It's interesting because I think that even the best of us have a hickey or two that we would rather not have our current or future employer know about. Sometimes they're big-giant-in-the-back-of-a-Chevy-17-year-old-I-will-love-you-forever hickeys and sometimes they're just oops-I-lingered-a-little-too-long type of hickeys. Either way, I would rather not expose my hickeys and have to worry about how this will impact the rest of my professional life. And here's where most people drive themselves crazy.
As Talent Acquisition Pros I think it's
important for us to be able to help our organizations determine the relative
value of individuals. This person was a rock star at ABC Company and
did something wrong, couldn't maintain that position any longer with ABC
because of said incident, and lost their job. Now we have a chance to pick up a
Rock Star (and probably for a discount).
The question you have to ask is, not, could we live with this person if they did the same thing here? That really isn't the question. You already have that answer, No! The question is: do we feel this person learned from said wrong doing, and is there any risk of them doing it again? You might come to the conclusion, yes, they've learned, and, yes, there is potential they might do it again (let's face it, if they did it once, they've shown they can do it, so there's always a risk), but it's a risk we are willing to take.
Helping candidates erase their hickeys
So, how does someone come back from a transgression at work? The answer is that they have some help. Eventually, someone is going to ask the question, why aren't you with ABC Company anymore? They'll give you the canned answer they've been developing since the moment they lost their job.
If you're a good interviewer, you won't buy the first answer (I mean really - so you decided it was better off not to have a job - is what you're telling me?!) and you will dig to see the hickey. Hickeys are funny in that you really can't take your eyes off of them once you see them, but for those who can get by the hickeys, you might just find a great talent who is grateful for the second chance.
But, you also might find someone who just likes being in the back of that Chevy and getting hickeys. You're the Talent Acquisition Pro, though, and that's really why your company pays your salary, to mitigate risk versus the quality of talent your organization needs to succeed. So, you have to ask yourself, can you live with a hickey?
Your turn: What do you do when you come across a candidate with a blunder in their past?