27

My boss and I are the only people currently working at my company's new branch. We are in the process of hiring new employees in the area and my boss has stated off-hand that he'd like to arrange for me to talk face to face with prospective employees about the company. I gather that he wants me to do this to give the prospective a better idea about the day to day work at the company. It seems that he also wants me to say, as an employee, how great the company is.

The trouble is, I'm not particularly satisfied with the company and I don't think I would be able to recommend it to a prospective employee. I'm not vindictive enough to directly tell the prospective not to apply, but I also don't want to lie and say it's great when I'm not happy with it.

If there were more people at my branch, I could say something like "I don't think I'd be the best person to talk with prospectives. Have you asked John?" However since I'm the only person aside from my boss, I don't have that luxury. I'm also not willing to voice my dissatisfaction to my boss at this time lest it interfere with my future job prospects.

Concrete plans have not yet been made, but I believe he intends to follow through with this and expects a commitment from me. So how can I deal with this request to speak to prospective employees about a company I'm dissatisfied with?

  • 1
    I agree with Joe. If you are not happy about something then you need to bring it up. That way management has an opportunity to either change the situation or explain to you why it isn't going to change. This doesn't have to be confrontational, nor does it have to be a career limiting move. I've had several employees over the years express dissatisfaction about one thing or another and I've usually been able to correct the situation. – NotMe May 22 '14 at 21:39
  • Be careful - if your boss asks you to talk up the company to encourage prospective employees to apply, and you end up scaring away all prospective employees, you will likely be perceived as having failed the task. – bd33 May 22 '14 at 22:21
  • 3
    Above all else, those prospective employees deserve your honesty. But also your objectivity. If there are legitimate issues with the company, then you should not be glossing them over. However, there's a difference between a subjective comment like "it's miserable working here" and a more objective one like "the culture has been becoming progressively more rigid/corporate, which personally does not appeal to me". Separate your personal opinions from the facts, and present them independently (or just present the facts). – aroth May 23 '14 at 1:40
  • I'll play devil's advocate and say that your job can be regarded as not to provide an honest testimonial, but to do marketing. When a famous actor goes up on TV and praises a TV dinner as his favorite food, is it ethical? Who knows. But that's what his paycheck is for, and perhaps your boss considers "advertising" part of your duties. Also, a more tactful way of refusing: "I have certain private reservations about the company; these may make it difficult for me to speak with the prospectives..." – Superbest May 23 '14 at 4:48
  • 3
    Consider that regardless of your reservations, you are in point of fact choosing to be employed by this company in preference to being unemployed. Maybe you can't recommend it over other companies you can think of, but there must be something to recommend it to unemployed people. Find that and use it to motivate your performance ;-) – Steve Jessop May 23 '14 at 8:04
30

First, remember your "I don't want to work here" may be someone else's ideal workplace. So keep it professional, talk about what is expected, where this new group is planning to go, and tell them about what you perceive to be positives and do not be negative. It is up to them to decide from what you tell them. You don't have to be a Pollyanna all excited and cheery. Just be professional and stick as much as possible to the facts about what you do. If they directly ask you if it is a good place to work, then you can honestly repeat whatever positives there are and point out that everyone has a different idea of what is a good workplace, so what the place is like may or may not be what they are looking for, but this is what it is like. Strive for friendly, neutral and professional.

If you are not a naturally extroverted sort, you could tell your boss that you don't thimk you make the best salesperson for the job because you are introverted and don't think well on your feet in a pressure suituation. Tell him you feel you might inadvertly drive folks away and you don't want to do that to him. This of course will not work if you are extroverted and do think well on your feet.

  • 5
    A lie by omission is still a lie. If the 'negatives' have a factual basis behind them, then those facts should be mentioned. – aroth May 23 '14 at 1:45
11

Focus on the Positive: Hopefully there are some positive things you can focus on. The Industry, the product, the fact it is a new branch, the manager, etc.

Present things that need work as an opportunity for new employees to make an impact. In the past when I have been unhappy about a situation in the organization I worked for I made a point of saying "we don't do XYZ well but here is your chance to come in and help us do a better job."

I would obviously try and be honest as possible with any prospects, but not come across as negative. In addition, I would certainly bring up with your Manager that fact that there are areas of the workplace that need work and does he have suggestions on how you should deal with it if it comes up in the discussion.

  • +1. It's same as an interview "Bring yourself, in your best frame of mind." => "Show your company as it is, but keep it positive." I've had to recruit and do just this, and I did not feel that I had to compromise. – Neil Slater May 23 '14 at 9:21
3

When I signed up for a short-term assignment with this client, I did not realize that his staff was bailing on him. And I was not aware of the reasons his staff was bailing on him either. His key person walked me through my responsibilities with not a hint of the baggage. I was also focused on my responsibilities because I had to take over from her, and I had to keep the existing systems running while the CTO was starting and completing the migration of all systems to a new, untested platform. The skeletons spilled out of the closet within less than a week.

I was certainly not upset with the key person nor with any of the staff for not telling me why so many were bailing out. I found out for myself easily enough. I know of no other working environment where you had to bring your own toilet paper if you wanted to use the bathroom. "Nough said.

My advice is,just stick to the objective facts. Walk them through their responsibilities. Don't pass judgement. They are smart enough to make up their own minds and see for themselves when they get in. And who knows? They might thrive in that environment.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.