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Jump the Shark
E is for Experience; recruitment writing, pt 12
You’ve heard the phrase, I take it – “jump the shark”?
It’s the moment when one surprising or absurd experience can indicate a rapid descent into rubbishness and obscurity.
When it’s time to get off the bus.
Typically in media.
Jumping the Shark comes from an episode of Happy Days in which the Fonz does a water ski jump over a shark.
👈 Aaaaay. 👉
A sign creators have run out of ideas, or can’t be bothered to come up with fresh ones.
In movies, sequelitis is a good example of this – an unnecessary sequel done to make some cash, in the hope the audience doesn’t care about its quality.
Sometimes they become dead horses to flog, such as the missteps that are any Terminator film after 2.
It’s an issue that can lead to consumers abandoning what they were doing, with such a precipitous drop in engagement that the thing itself is then cancelled.
Partly because of breaking trust in what was expected to happen next.
And because it’s a sign that the disbelief that was temporarily suspended has come crashing down.
If you don’t believe that your current poor experience will lead to further, better experiences, why would you bother?
Once you’ve had your fingers burnt, how hard is it to find that trust in similar experiences?
It doesn’t have to be a single vein of experience for all to be affected.
Watch one dodgy superhero movie and how does it whet your appetite for the next?
You didn’t see The Eternals? Lucky you.
Or how about that time we had really bad service at Café Rouge, a sign of new management that didn’t care, and we never went again? Just me?
Did they sauter par-dessus le requin?
Here’s the rub – it matters less that these experiences have jumped the shark. It matters more what the experience means for expectation.
So it is in candidate experience.
It’s not just the experience you provide that tempers expectations – it’s the cumulated experience of other processes that creates an assumption of what might be expected of yours.
If you’re starting from a low trust point, what will it take for your process to ‘jump the shark’ and lose, not just an engaged audience, but those brilliant candidates that might only have considered talking to you if their experience hadn’t been off-putting?
Not fair, is it, that the experience provided by other poor recruitment processes might affect what people expect of yours?
Their experiences aren’t in your control, the experience you provide is.
Of my 700 or so calls with exec job seekers, since The Pandemic: Lockdown Pt 1, many described the candidate experience touchpoints that led to them deciding not to proceed with an application.
These were calls that were purely about job search strategy, and not people I could place. However, one benefit for me is that they are the Gemba, and I get to hear their direct experiences outside of my recruitment processes.
Experiences such as -
‘£Competitive salary’ in an advert or DM, which they know full well means a lowball offer every time, because it happened to them once or twice, or perhaps it was just a LinkedIn post they read.
Maybe it isn’t your problem at all, maybe your £competitive is upper 1% - how does their experience inform their assumptions?
Or when adverts lend ambiguity to generic words, what meaning do they find, no matter how far from the truth?
How the arrogance of a one-sided interview process affects their interest.
The apparent narcissism in many outreaches in recruitment (unamazing, isn’t it, that bad outreach can close doors, rather than open them).
Those ATS ‘duplicate your CV’ data entry beasts? Fool me once…
Instances that are the catalysts for them withdrawing.
I’d find myself telling them to look past these experiences, because a poor process can hide a good job.
It’s a common theme in my jobseeker posts, such as a recent one offering a counterpoint to the virality that is “COVER LETTERS DON’T M4TT£R agree?”
Experiences that may not be meant by the employer, or even thought of as necessarily bad, yet are drivers for decisions and behaviour.
I can only appeal to these job seekers through my posts and calls.
What about those other jobseekers who I’m not aware of, who’ve only experienced nonsense advice?
What about those people who aren’t jobseekers?
What about those people who think they love their roles?
What about all those great candidates who won’t put up with bad experiences?
The more sceptical they are, and the further they are from the need for a new role, the less bullshit they’ll put up with.
What happens when an otherwise acceptable process presents something unpalatable?
Might this jumping the shark mean they go no further?
Every time the experience you provide doesn’t put their needs front and centre or if it’s correlated to their bad experiences….
these can prevent otherwise willing candidates from progressing with your process, whether that’s an advert they don’t apply to, a job they don’t start, or everything in between.
Decisions that may stem from false assumptions of what a bad experience will mean.
Instead, look to these ‘bad experience’ touchpoints as opportunities to do better:
instead of £competitive, either state a salary or a legitimate reason why you can’t disclose salary (e.g. “see below” if limited by a job board field and “we negotiate a fair salary based on the contribution of the successful candidate, and don’t want to limit compensation by a band”)
instead of a 1-way interrogation… an interview
instead of radio silence when there’s no news - an update to say there’s no update, and ‘How are things with you by the way?’
instead of Apply Now via our Applicant Torture Sadistificator, ‘drop me a line if you have any questions’ or ‘don’t worry if you don’t have an updated CV - we’ll sort that later’.
Opportunity from adversity. And why you can look at bad experiences other processes provide as a chance to do better.
With the benefit that, if you eliminate poor experience, you'll lose fewer candidates unnecessarily, including those ideal ones you never knew about.
Bad experiences are the yin to good experience’s yang and both are key parts of the E that is Experience in the AIDE framework.
The good is for next time.
Thanks for reading.
p.s. *Ironically the episode of Happy Days which prompted the expression Jump the Shark garnered 30 million viewers. And the cast thought it was fun. And the show lasted six more seasons. And the non-Fonz star went on to be a multi-award-winning filmmaker. What a way to undermine my point.
p.p.s. While you are here, if you like the idea of improving how you recruit, lack capacity or need better candidates, and are curious how I can help, these are my services:
- commercial, operational and technical leadership recruitment (available for no more than three vacancies)
- manage part or all of your recruitment on an individually designed basis for one client
- recruitment coaching and mentoring
- recruitment strategy setting
- outplacement support
Just hit reply to check if my approach is right for you.