By definition, Black Friday is the day following Thanksgiving Day in the United States, traditionally the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Depending on the source, the term dates either from the 1980s or as far back as 1966, although its usage was primarily on the East coast. On Black Friday, many retailers open very early, with most of the retailers typically opening at 5AM or even earlier, at midnight.
The day’s roots may have originated in Philadelphia, where it was used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic which would occur on the day after Thanksgiving. It is not uncommon to see shoppers lined up for hours before stores with big sales open. Once inside the stores, shoppers often rush and grab, as many stores have only a few of the big-draw items.
So what would it look like if there was a ‘Black Friday’ for jobs? Companies would open or advertise “great deals” on jobs (a.k.a. the best positions with the best compensation, to be attractive to the consumer/employee). Companies would put on an advertising blitz to promote the positions and potential candidates would line up hours before corporate doors opened to be the first considered for the job. Now let’s think about this for a moment, does this really apply to non-retail corporate human capital management??? No, it doesn’t.
First of all, an organization that’s trying to fill a premium job with attractive compensation is going to be more selective and targeted in their approach to finding and attracting qualified candidates rather than taking the ‘cattle call’ approach. Second, when non-retail corporations open their doors, the least likely to get the job are the ones that are waiting in line the night before to get in the door first (a.k.a., they’re often seeking to uncover the “passive candidate”, or person not explicitly seeking the job, versus “active candidates” for the premium, high paying and highly skilled roles). In fact, the “more active” you are as a candidate the less desirable you may appear to the hiring manager. It’s a delicate balance between appearing interested and knowledgeable on the company/role with good follow through and coming across as needy and desperate for the position. Can you imagine how a prospective candidate would be perceived by a hiring manager if they acted as they do on Black Friday during the feeding frenzy of being the first to the cash register with the new shiny object that is heavily discounted? Or pushing and shoving other candidates (or shoppers) to get the last standing product on the shelf (or job) – not so attractive and it’s definitely not recommended behavior to land yourself the top job.
It’s safe to say though, that this may be how many of us felt this past year trying to land our next job. With national unemployment hovering around 10%, it’s no wonder that many people (candidates) have felt a similar level of desperation and neediness to land that next job, as they have felt to grab that last item on sale at Wal-Mart. It’s a classic matter of supply and demand. As mentioned in our Thanksgiving blog, what a difference a year makes. A good indicator of organizational growth is an increase in the hiring of sales individuals – the revenue producing arm of a company. We’ve seen substantial changes from this time last year with our clients, providing a good indication of a promising 2011 for improved employment.
Let’s learn from the characteristics of “Black Friday”, and vow not to conduct ourselves in the same manner through our career search in 2011! Discount shopping behaviors do not translate well to behaviors necessary to land a job!