Hiring Manager: “I like the last three candidates you sent me, but I would like to see a few more.”
Recruiter: (To themselves) You have to be kidding me! It took me 3 weeks to find those 3! (Out loud) “Sure, we’ll get right on it!”
This happens every single day in every single industry across the world. The reality is, choice is a tax.
What does that mean?
Think about the concept of choice. In almost everything we do in life, we would love to have a lot of choices. Most people have limited choices, and we almost always want more choices. If you talk to a wealthy person they’ll almost always tell you what money really gives them is more choices.
So, how is choice a tax?
What is the biggest decision you’ll make in your life? Let’s say it’s that of choosing a mate. There are billions of potential mates in the world, but we start making decisions that will limit our choices. I only want a woman. I only want a woman who lives in America. I only want a woman who has brown hair. Etc.
Each of these choices is a tax on the overall pool of potential mates. The more choices, the more tax you’ll pay. “I don’t know why I can’t find someone!?” Well, you’ve decided you would rather pay a giant tax to find something that is very rare because of all the choices you have made to be selective.
I can’t find a job! That’s another choice tax. It’s actually super easy to find a job. I can go out tomorrow and find ten jobs if I lower my choice tax enough. The higher the choice tax, the more you have to do to pay it. I want to be the world’s best brain surgeon! Cool! But, you can’t just roll out of bed some morning and decide to do that job. You have to pay a bunch of taxes first. Like being great in school and test-taking and then do all that work and put years of effort and sacrifice into reaching that level.
Let’s go back to the example at the start. If you and the hiring manager worked out all the details of the person they needed, and you both understood and agreed, and then you went and found what the HM wanted, there really shouldn’t be any need for more choices. The tax is you now having to do more work because something was missed.
So a question wasn’t asked or answered about what the HM truly wanted. Or, the market dynamics of what was being asked for wasn’t shared back to lower expectations. The reality is, as TA pros, we should never have a hiring manager ask us for more choices if we, and they, did everything correctly upfront. Giving more choice, is your tax, for not ensuring every single variable was addressed in the beginning.
By the way, your hiring manager is also paying the choice tax. The longer she waits to fill the job, because she is looking for a perfect candidate that doesn’t exist, the more likely others on her team are taking on extra work, or a project isn’t getting done on time which will look bad on her leadership, etc. The choice tax never sleeps, and it is indiscriminate on how it dolls out the bills. Sure you might have a higher position, thus you have a higher ability to take on the tax, but you’re still getting taxed.
The better you are at dotting i’s and crossing t’s, and negotiating the details with hiring managers, the lower tax you’ll pay as a TA pro in your everyday job. The better relationship you have with your hiring managers, the lower choice tax you’ll pay in your career. Every single question that goes un-asked, every single piece that wasn’t followed up on, becomes a tax you must pay at a later time.
I’m not saying “choice” is bad. “Choice” is expensive. The key to great TA is how do we limit the amount of choice tax we pay, and try to only pay it when it truly makes sense.