Angry Elmer Fudd

Angry Elmer Fudd

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Originally published 2009

All of us remember that beloved character from the Looney Tunes™, Elmer Fudd.  He was hilarious because he worked really hard at tracking that rascally rabbit.  However, he never quite seemed to end up with his prize in a big stock pot on top of the stove. Didn’t someone famous say, “A bird in the hand is better than two in the bush”? Anyway, I digress.  Elmer is much like some of the job seeker types that we see in the marketplace. The Elmer Fudd job seeker gets to the final stage of the interview process but never gets the position. Much like the animated rabbit hunter that we all know and love this person in career transition never lands their ultimate prize- a new and interesting career.

More entertaining and perhaps even more tragic is when Elmer Job Seeker goes “postal” on the people that have been working with them throughout the process, particularly the recruiter that delivers the turndown decision. I work with a great team of partners and professionals every day and have the opportunity to sit around some great recruiters. Recently I heard a conversation that blew my mind. A senior level professional recruiter was delivering a turndown decision over the phone to a candidate in the final stages of a retained search. This particular candidate had actually interviewed with the client and was indeed a pretty good candidate for the role…but not quite the fit that was needed.  I heard the recruiter’s tone of voice start to get sharper and more pointed, “I am just trying to deliver some useful feedback that you can use…..[silence]. I understand that you are disappointed [silence]. No, I would not advise that [silence]. Well, best wishes to you and I am sorry you feel that way.”

I have listened to this particular recruiter verbally communicate turndown decisions at least a dozen times in a caring, thorough and professional way. He takes the time to add value to all the professionals with whom he interacts, even the ones he has to turndown. What happened? I knew right away. Elmer got angry and unloaded an arsenal of vitriolic commentary in the frustration over not getting the nod for the position. When Elmer was finished not only had he razed the relationship “bridge” between him and the recruiter, he had firebombed the whole network “village” connected to this valuable career advocate.

It’s taught in the “Relationships 101” class that you don’t tear apart the people that have to deliver disappointing news.  If you are lucky enough to come across a talented, principled recruitment professional who acts as your advocate, nurture that relationship and embrace every ounce of feedback you get. Better to leave the turndown with something in your back pocket- a powerful networking contact to aid your career transition objectives. After hearing this conversation I walked down the hall to my recruitment friend’s desk and said, “I bet you’ll have that guy at the top of your list on your next search.”  My friend just looked at me and smiled.  I said, “Elmer got angry, huh?”  We shared a good belly laugh.