Monday, December 30, 2013

Declining an Offer

You have been in interviewing for a job.  It has gone very well and they have extended you an offer.   For whatever reason you know you are not going to accept.  At Apparel Resource our candidates have changed their mind for many reasons.  They have a competing offer that is more compelling.  They have been offered a new role or counter offer to stay where they are.  They decide they are not ready to relocate…there can be many reasons.
It is important to be sensitive to the time and effort of the people who were involved in evaluating, preparing and extending the offer you are going to decline.  The best way to decline an offer is honestly, promptly and gratefully.   When a position is open it creates stress and work for the people on that team.  When the employer gets close to offer stage the people involved are usually excited and hopeful that the candidate will accept.   When a candidate declines there is disappointment.

We have had candidates know they are not going to accept but they want to avoid the difficult conversation.  They avoid the conversation by not returning phone calls emails or texts. This leaves the employer with a very negative impression. We have had employers tell us at this point that if the candidate will not manage the conversation around declining an offer that they would no longer consider hiring the candidate in the future.
If you are working through a recruiting agency like Apparel Resource it is best to let your agency know the moment you have decided not to accept.  We then get working immediately on other candidate options for the employer.  We also help prepare you to have the direct conversation with the hiring manager and the HR/recruiting professional in the organization.   This conversation should be done with thought and sensitivity so that these people understand your decision and would consider you for future options if your situation changes.  It is important to be direct, honest and thank them for their time and effort.  For example:  “This has been a difficult decision but I have decided to accept an offer with another company.  The organizational structure they have offers me greater long term career growth.  I really appreciate the time you have spent with me and the offer you extended.” 

Responding directly with a live phone call is professional and courteous.  Do not leave your answer in a voice message or send it via email.  The live direct conversation gives closure to those that were involved and should leave the door open behind you should you want to reconsider this employer in the future.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Welcome the new guy

I have worked at companies where new hires can be either feared or welcomed. When I started a role with… we’ll call it company X, there was fear. My role was not defined. People didn’t know what I was there to do. There was a perception that my new position would take away their power. Because of that, people withheld information. They showed up late to meetings if they showed up at all. The first three months of that job were incredibly stressful and unnecessarily difficult until I was able to break through and show my value to the team. We could have made more progress faster if I was welcomed. The fear didn’t help anyone. Intentionally being difficult takes more time and energy rather than just working together.

On the flip side, I started a job with my current company and was welcomed. Co-workers lined up to share information and partner on projects. Because of that, the company & my coworkers quickly benefited from the additional headcount. We moved major projects forward quickly and efficiently. It was a smooth transition and I was happy to go to work every day.

What is the value in fear? How does withholding information help you? Who do you want to be? How can you welcome a new employee? What benefits might there be from welcoming a new employee?

To learn more about career coach Kate Kibler, go to

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Stopping at no

I received an e-mail the other day telling me that a critical order had been cut. One of my most important styles would not be arriving in time for the season. It was not good, so I started to do some probing. What had happened to the order? How could we move some other things around to make my order happen? Who could I talk to in order to fix this problem? After a series of emails, we found that there was a computer glitch. If I didn’t push on asking these critical questions, my order would have been lost in the system.

What did I learn? Even with the best intentions, sometimes people deliver information without learning the whole situation. When there is a lot to do, you tend to move fast and rush towards the finish line. Even I have been guilty of this on occasion. Taking a few minutes to ask the right questions or learn more about a situation could save time and effort on the back-end, or in this case- protect my business.

How often have you accepted no without questioning? How can you start to ask the right questions? What are best practices to ensure you are getting all of the information you need to make a great decision? Who do you know who does this well?

To learn more about career coach Kate Kibler, go to

Monday, December 16, 2013

Talking with Recruiters

I wasn’t always a recruiter.  My career started in retail management and transitioned into Merchandising.  I used to get at least one phone message a week from recruiters.  I never returned their calls.  Nothing against recruiters personally, I just always loved my job and was too busy to find the time to get back to them. 

The one time I decided to speak with a recruiter it ended up leading all the way to a fabulous job offer from Target.  I had been honest with everyone all along, saying I was open to considering but not really motivated to make a change.  The offer was aggressively more than I was making where I was at.  I did decline the offer.  It just was not the right time personally and professionally to make a move.  The recruiter was really angry with me for declining and did not treat me very well.  I returned to my prior behavior of not returning their calls. 

Now on the other side of the equation after 7 years running a recruiting agency, I have a different point of view.  Independent recruiting agencies like Apparel Resource have relationships with a variety of clients.  These employers often call us asking for help with very unique opportunities.  Building teams to launch new divisions.  Confidential openings that are not posted.  New positions they have not recruited for before.

When I contact a candidate and ask to speak with them it is because that candidate has great work experience that looks like it aligns with the kinds of openings we work on.  I know it is likely the timing might not be right for the candidate.   When a candidate agrees to schedule time to speak with me I review their work history carefully.  I learn about the type of work they do, the corporate cultures and challenges they enjoy.  We talk about what they get frustrated with, their relocation preferences and what they are thinking about next in their career.  If they are qualified for any of the openings we are currently working on I share those options with them.  If they are not interested in making a change at this time that is not a problem.  I have learned about a candidate’s experience and career aspirations.  I can continue to contact them for options they tell me they would like to hear about.

I have been in touch with some candidates for 7 years and not “placed” them.  These candidates are still a valuable asset to my business and I am a valuable resource for them.  We share industry knowledge, they often provide referrals and I can be a resource to them in many different aspect of their job.  If these candidates are ever in a situation where they need to make a change due to job loss or family situations I will be an excellent advocate to assist them with their options.

When you get a call from a recruiter….do some research on who they are, what firm they are with and what employers they represent.  If they do reputable work in your career space it is very likely that you will not regret taking time to visit with them. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Interview feedback

I recently interviewed someone for an open position I had. I’ll call this candidate “Susan” for the sake of the candidate’s privacy. Susan had a great background and had many of the skills I needed for the role I was trying to fill. I was excited to meet her in person. Once Susan came into the office, it quickly became apparent that Susan was one-dimensional in her career. She had worked for the same company for twenty years and didn’t have an opinion or skill set outside of that particular company’s methodology. I pushed her with several questions to think differently. Unfortunately, Susan seemed trapped in her old company’s paradigm. Susan had been laid off from that company over a year ago. She had nothing to fill the gap on her resume and continued down the only path she knew.

Although I didn’t hire Susan, I did provide Susan with feedback. How many other job opportunities had passed her by because she didn’t get that direct feedback? As a manager, or potential employer, how does it benefit you to not give feedback? How can feedback help both you and the candidate? What is your track record with difficult conversations?

For more information about career coaching go to

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Managing versus leading

There is a fine balance that needs to be achieved in leadership between leading and doing.  I have heard many people call themselves leaders but are actually in fact managers. There is a huge difference between a leader and a manager. A manager directs a team and makes sure the work gets done. A leader engages the team, drives each teammate to be better while exhibiting the work ethic and values s/he would like to see in his/her team. A leader teaches, encourages and empowers while staying connected to the team.

Who do you want to be: manager or leader? How do you know which one you are? How can you improve your leadership? Where are the opportunities to change from a manager to a leader? Who can help you evolve to a leader? Who inspires you as a leader? 

Go to to learn more about career coach Kate Kibler