I had an email this week from someone who was keen to know what they should do when they go for an interview only to discover that there is no actual job.
This person had received a call from a recruiter asking if they would be interested to be placed forward for a two month position with an up and coming agency. Prior to the interview, they had attempted to have gained as much additional information as possible from the recruitment agency but was barely able to get more than a best wishes for the interview a few minutes prior.
This person ended up sitting in an interview for an hour. For the first 45 minutes, he was asked about his experience. At this point, he was finally able to ask some of his own questions. He mentions, “The first of which was 'Can you please tell me a little more about the role?' to which she responded 'Oh, there isn't actually a role.... we don't really have budget for that right now, but down the track if we're pitching for new business we want to have a talent pool we could draw from. So we could look at maybe calling you up for a week or two of work!’”
As you would imagine, this person was rather disappointed that they had spent an hour of their time to discover that no actual job existed and that this had been essentially a ‘meet and greet’ that could’ve been handled another way.
So what should you do in a situation like this?
Keep it professional
The first thing to note is that the temptation is going to be there to lose your cool and to tell the client where to go for wasting your time. Regardless of how unprofessional they’ve been, it is often wiser to rise above it and to keep the discussion civilised. You may be able to let off some steam by telling them that it is disappointing to hear no actual job exists since this is why you were meeting with them however the reality is that, at this point in time, we don’t know who has been bending the truth.
I’d always say that when it comes to business, never burn your bridges. It’s a small industry here and reputations count.
After your meeting, give your consultant a call and explore with them the situation. Again, avoid the temptation to lose your temper and perhaps ask at the start of the call for a clarification about what the opportunity was that you were meeting the client today for.
The reality is that one of a few possible things have happened.
It is highly likely that when the client initially briefed the recruitment consultant, this was the plan. I’ve had assignments in the past that have come in and we’ve gone out, met with the client, and received a very clear brief only to find that once the job started, the clients requirements had changed however they had forgotten to tell us as part of that process. Some clients will become so inundated with work that they forget to communicate outside of their organisation.
Alternatively, the recruitment consultant knew that this wasn’t a real job but was keen to get you in front of the client to meet with them in the hopes that you were going to go in there, impress the crap out of them and then they wonder how the hell they can honestly go on without you. This isn't the most ethical or transparent approach and, should this prove to be the case, you may want to consider if this is the right consultant for you.
Ultimately, when you step back from this situation, it is most likely the client who is going to suffer the most from this situation. Chances are that if they have intentionally wasted your time to fill their own talent pool, then they’ve done it to a handful (or more) of other people. If they’re that comfortable in asking people in for a non-existent job and taking up your time, then imagine what they’re going to be like to work for! The more they continue to do this, the more their reputation will spread as being a company that wastes people’s time. Sadly, this can often filter through to the recruitment agency as well, who despite their best efforts, may some times struggle to get the necessary information or feedback required to give you the full picture.
The reality is that people are busy and often, despite best of intentions, things do not go to plan. You need to weigh up if you feel they've been genuine in their human error or if they've just been a massive pack of time wasters. Once the dust has settled on the situation, if you've expressed your disappointment and sincere apologies haven't come forth from either the client or the recruitment consultant, then you know how highly they value your time and you can determine if either are worth working with beyond that point.
If you have any thoughts, questions or simply would like to get in touch with me and offer up a topic for the next Ask Lawrence, you can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or you can find me and connect with me on LinkedIn.