In Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club, the nameless narrator (played in the film version by Ed Norton), rebels against the corporate ladder and what he calls “the IKEA nesting instinct”, by dropping out of society and exposing himself to the raw emotional reality of cancer support groups and the physical violence of extreme fighting. In the sequel, he might choose to attend INSEAD.
Recruiting is hard because companies woo you to apply by sponsoring cocktail parties, bombarding you with free pens, bags, corkscrews, and dinner invitations. Like a homely girl with braces and acne in high school who is flattered by the slightest attention from boys, your self-esteem is boosted and you are lulled into applying. But then you are unceremoniously rejected because based on a 30 second scan of your resume, you are deemed too old, too technical, too artsy, disloyal, too international, not international enough etc.
The companies that you thought were safe fall backs, reject you, while the obscure long shot can’t wait to interview you for a position in a country whose name you can’t pronounce. One frustrating aspect of recruiting is that companies will never tell you that the reason they don’t want you is that they’re overstaffed and not hiring. I was rejected for an interview at one place that I really wanted, and so I used my INSEAD alumni network connections to glean the following information:
“… I can share with you a conversation that I had back in January of this year with someone from HR. I was trying to find out why another friend of mine was not invited to interview [with them] and was told that recruiting is closed for 2008. They wanted 5 and got them: 2 from INSEAD and 3 more that I haven’t met. ”
My self-esteem might have been spared had the company shared this information in their PFO letter, but alas why would the company want to share their hiring targets and staffing needs with an applicant? Better yet, the company and INSEAD’s Career Services office should have told me to apply back in fall while there were still positions open.
And so without this information, we applicants tend to internalize the rejections. What did I do wrong? If I was good enough for a free corkscrew, coffee chat, or dinner, why not an interview? Where is Meatloaf with his hormone-induced man-boobs when you need someone to hug?