If You Want The Job Enough, You’ll Take a Sick-Day, Right?

I was on the train this morning, and in my nosiness (I blame those big Samsung phones), I saw a lady – fully suited – texting someone, presumably her boss. at 9am: “Ugh, sorry I can’t come in today. Totally feeling sick. Staying in bed” 

Well, she wasn’t – clearly. She was on the train, to London, and let’s be fair – probably going to an interview. As a recruiter, and an employer, I felt a bit sick. Somewhere, someone pushed her to do an interview in work-time. As recruiters operating in haste, on the whole, we are trained to almost relay the words “Well, if you want the job enough, you’ll take a sick-day, right?”. And if recruiters don’t say it – then often, the hiring client will – “If they’re not prepared to meet us on our terms, then they’re not really serious about the job?!”.

Beautiful woman looking out window. Image shot 2010. Exact date unknown.I’m not sure this is genuinely seen as a conundrum in the recruitment industry – but in truth, it does raise concerns. What is wrong with a job-seeker who is currently employed, wanting to show appreciation to their employer, and their contract, and only attend interviews outside of work?

From the hiring company’s perspective – if a candidate is prepared to take a sick day from their current employment so willingly; then what is to say they wouldn’t do the same for this company too – should they be hired? What does it say about that person’s attitude – or for that matter any employee’s attitude – if they are prepared to take a sick day at will. Frankly, it’s not the kind of employee I want.

Why isn’t the recruitment agency/recruiter advising this to their clients? Why are we not consulting that arranging meetings requires the full and untroubled attention of both parties and therefore it is best if the meeting is set at a time when all concerned had a clear mind, and weren’t supposed to be somewhere else?

So why are we asking potential employers to break the terms of their current employment, in an attempt to crowbar them into new employment? Why are we asking them to do to their current boss, what we wouldn’t want them to do to us?

Ethics and clarity in the recruitment process is just a practice, and this is an example of a part of that process that gets side-tracked. It really is no harm to wait a day or two longer, and ask the candidate to take legitimate time off in annual leave, do a lunch appointment, or to pop in early or stay late, to see the right candidate – isn’t it?

I welcome thoughts…

9 thoughts on “If You Want The Job Enough, You’ll Take a Sick-Day, Right?

  1. Steve, totally agree. I think the disappointing thing is when recruiters, in house or otherwise, don’t show this flexibility and understanding. I can almost forgive hiring managers for not working out of core hours (does anyone have core hours anymore?), but it is up to us to influence this. Annual leave is also a precious commodity to most people, and I think it borders on arrogance to assume this will be used.

    • Hey Ken, yes thanks for that – I agree. I think it borders on even more arrogance maybe – or at least lack of thought – to request that people take a sickie to attend an interview. It’s bad form to make people take sickies, simple as that.

  2. Agree with Steve, I ask what reason they have given to their current employer for not being in the office. It’s not a make or break but if I have any concerns on their trustworthiness I tend to centre on it.

    Yes annual leave is a valuable commodity but if you are interviewing somewhere else you are likely doing so to step up in which case you could just view it as a cost of changing job.

    Again as an employer we’ll always do before it after work for the right candidates – they only have to ask.

  3. Thanks Marc, this is refreshing – and the agency has to be brave and ask too, rather than pushing candidates into small holes that are difficult to squeeze through.
    There’s a lot to be said for the mindset going into interview, too. If the candidate is in effect `skyving` – I doubt they can perform to the max. It’s a distraction.

    Sometimes hiring people is about more than just shoving people into interview slots – there’s a journey that needs to be taken from both sides, to ensure the best performance is ensured.

  4. More employers should allow staff to buy extra leave on a regular 6 month cycle for the sole purpose of attending interview. Personal and career development is an integral part of a individual’s life, we should be seeking to foster this within and beyond our organisations.

    • Well Anthony that really is a fascinating opinion. So are you saying that you feel employers should be more accepting of people’s desires to move on to be fresh in their careers? Not sure many employers would agree with that – as good employers `should` be looking at how their staff can develop and remain fresh internally.

      • Employers need to realise that today they exist in an eco-system that through technology and the changes as a result of the burgeoning knowledge economy has become a global village with small town dynamics. Not all career progression can be accomplished internally and organisations need to re-position themselves as employers who understand these new social contracts with their employees .

        For those interested, the Management Innovation Exchange is a new movement looking to bring awareness to the business world on these new challenges:

  5. Very interesting article/debate. So there are some employers who say ‘if the candidate is interested he/she will come on our terms’ whereas others say ‘if the candidate is taking a sickie to attend, they’ll probably do the same to us’. I personally would not be comfortable with lying (which is what it is) but others may disagree. What is refreshing, however, is a recruiter thinking about this rather than chasing the £££

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