Blog Tape

by | Mar 1, 2024 | Communication

Saying NO is a superpower…

Our industry is renowned for saying yes; we are a service industry of yes -men and women, because we always say yes when the client wants us to jump through hoops, reduce the budget or meet unrealistic expectations. We say yes then get on with making it work somehow…

This mantra has also been popular with business and life coaches; “say yes and work it out later”. Richard Branson famously said it first, but he has a lot to answer for because I think this is terrible advice.  We have people (especially junior talent) wearing ‘yes’ as a badge of honor, but it’s not great for your mental health to take on too much, and if you say yes to something you can’t do, then f-it up, your reputation will be damaged.

I say no to work all the time – maybe the company has unrealistic expectations, or time scales or is asking me to do something I’m not good at – I would rather say no to some things, and then point out what I am great at instead.

So, let’s look at the power of saying No as an employer or a job seeker.

Employing someone is a fantastic, empowering opportunity. It’s an amazing feeling to be able to change someone’s life with the cry of “yes, you’ve got the job”. But here lies the problem –employers get so wrapped up in the nice and cozy warm feeling of saying yes, they bypass the reasons to say no. Recruitment can be really empowering and fun. Well, maybe not fun (that could just be me…), but for most people it is a change from the day job and change is enjoyable.

The three biggest mistakes I see in recruitment are:

1 – the interviewer listening to their gut and saying yes on a feeling rather than taking a calculated decision

2 – taking a mates advice and hiring the friend of a colleague

3 – hiring an ‘ok’ candidate because there’s no-one else available

Saying no could avoid all these mistakes.

Saying no should be part of the recruitment process from the very beginning. When your team says we need to recruit. Don’t just launch head first into recruiting, take a step back and ask them why? Why isn’t there anyone internally we could train up in the months it would take us to find and hire someone? What’s the strategy? Where’s our pipeline? Just because someone has left, it doesn’t mean you have to recruit externally…

I know this is odd advice coming from someone who gets paid to find employer’s people, but honestly, new and shiny isn’t always the option.

Looking at the power of no from a job seekers point of view, the no should start before you even apply for a position. Don’t just apply for a job because it is there, consider whether you really really want it and what you could actually bring to the table.

In the interview, don’t be afraid to say no; “no I won’t work through the night free of charge to work up a year’s marketing plan for you.” (But maybe phrase it better than that though…)

If you get a bad vibe from a company and they offer you the job, you are perfectly ok to ask to think about it and come back to them with a no. It’s your choice too.

The power of no can also be applied to questions in an interview. If asked to explain your leadership style, it’s ok not to answer the question if it’s not clear, but instead to drill down and ask the interviewer to reframe it, or to redefine the question to focus on a specific part of your experience. Ok, I know this isn’t actually saying no, but it isn’t just jumping at yes I’ll answer.

We are an industry of people pleasers and that’s not too bad a thing.  But whether you are an employer or a job seeker, don’t accept a person or a company just because they are the only one that’s available. Don’t settle, and just say no*

For more recruitment insights, sign up to my Recruitment Report

(*catchphrase borrowed from Zammo – if you know, you know, and you are probably my age…)


About the author.

I’m Robert Kenward, Chief Talent Officer and creator of FitabilityⓇ.

I’ve been working in the recruitment, Live Events, Brand Experience, and Experiential Marketing space for over two decades. I’ve been a candidate, a client, and a recruiter.

This makes me well acquainted with the challenges you face and enables me to cover the entire talent spectrum above £60k.

I care deeply about my work and I’m generous with my time.

Hit me up if you’d like a new perspective on solving classic hiring problems.

07710 681980

Or book directly into my diary HERE to see how I can help you attract, select and retain your next senior hire.

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