Should I accept an offer with an organization embroiled in controversy?

Imagine a scenario where you are nearing the end of the candidate selection process for your dream job, and news breaks that the organization is under federal investigation. What do you do?

A post on the Fast Company website last week, ‘How To Hire When Your Company Is Embroiled in Controversy’, summarized expert advice to organizations who continue to recruit new employees while managing a crisis.

Veteran recruiter, Dave Carvahal was quoted in the piece, offering recruitment advice – “Be honest about where you actually are, the problems that exist, and the media attention amplification,” he says. Recruiting is about human relationships, Carvajal explains, pointing out that hiring managers shouldn’t be afraid to be vulnerable. “Emotions can be powerful allies in lifting our common humanity,” says Carvajal. “They build trust.”

Reality check – organizations who are being investigated by the Feds, or who are facing bankruptcy inducing lawsuits are probably not the most forthcoming with the truth. You cannot ‘spin’ fraud.

Recruiting is about relationships, ethical relationships. Working for a company in crisis may be a platform for a ‘budding’ leader to achieve visibility, but it’s no place to embark on a new career.

Reading the story was a ‘deja vu’ moment for me, reminiscent of 2002.

In January 2002, Arthur Andersen, then one of the ‘big five’ accounting firms found itself being investigated because of irregularities in its relationship with Enron. As congress grilled company executives, corporate recruiters continued to aggressively woo potential hires to accept offers. Candidates who had been initially attracted to the values of the organization began to question their decision. For most, the recruiting season was over. They had committed to Andersen and declined alternate offers.

Three months later, in April of 2002, Arthur Andersen laid off 7,000 employees. Soon after they began to recind offers to new employees. The folks who had been actively recruiting on college campuses had been simultaneously updating their own resumes.

My advice then, and today, if you find your dream employer had transitioned into public nightmare, withdraw yourself from consideration. This is not negotiable. Whatever perception you had of a cultural ‘fit’ has been disrupted by negative publicity. Your reputation is your brand.

If there’s ever a time to let common sense be your guide, it’s when your career trajectory collides with ‘above the fold’ news. Mobilize your networking resources to assist as you recalibrate your strategy.

Once you have declined the offer, reconnect with the organizations that had previously demonstrated an interest in hiring you, and reestablish the relationship. Be candid about what has triggered your change of heart. If it’s in the news, your alternate employers will be well aware of your motivation.

Job search is about long term relationship management. From your first internship to retirement, maintaining and nurturing your professional contacts is a priority for long term success, and overcoming the challenges posed by the rare, ‘questionable’ employer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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