Confessions of a benefits manager: Candid joins in ‘the great resignation’


All around me, my colleagues are resigning. It seems like quitting is in fashion this spring.

To make matters worse, many of our HR business partners and talent managers have also left or are in the process of leaving, so we just can’t get people in the door fast enough to fill the holes. Then, as vacancies lie open, remaining colleagues are left to pick up the extra work, and soon they get fed up and leave too.

Luckily, my little team has not been directly affected by the Great Resignation. I know that Big Bad Boss has so many restricted shares it would take an awful lot to prise him out of that comfy chair, and my colleague Lazy Susan simply doesn’t think enough for it to even occur to her. That leaves me.

I’ve certainly had a lot of head-hunter calls of late, but they haven’t been for particularly interesting roles. My next step would naturally be a something at the level of Big Bad Boss, but I know what that involves: far too much schmoozing with the Higher Beings in C-suite.

Also, the higher up the organisation you go, the more it becomes about managing people rather than getting things done. Still, not to be left out I decide to take a quick look on a couple of job sites, just to see.

It is a shock. The world of compensation and benefits is pretty niche, and usually choices are fairly limited. Not right now; I have never seen so many openings. Can this simply be that people came back from the holidays and decided to move on? Or is it that organisations are all drained of staff and looking fix the problem through their reward offering? I suspect a bit of both.

Testing the water

I hadn’t been thinking of leaving but seeing so many juicy roles out there is very tempting. Many are including salary information and it would appear I could add 20% to my pay just for moving. Strange times indeed.

After much dithering, I decide to go ahead and apply for three of the roles, just to test the market you understand. It takes a whole day out of my weekend.

I know from our own applicant tracking system that it is no good putting in a generic CV. If you don’t put in the exact keywords in the ad, you will not get through the first round of screening.

For example, if the ad says ‘benefits benchmarking’, it is no good mentioning experience analysing ‘benefits market data’. To a machine, these are not the same thing.

Even a talent acquisition specialist (typically qualified only in media studies) will not make the connection. No, while cutting and pasting from the job ad would once have marked you out as a fraud, it is now quite necessary.

After three days, I have had an immediate rejection for one of the roles and an invitation to interview with the other two. Two out of three is a pretty good success rate, but still I am offended by that rejection. I have experience in all the areas they were looking, and I had been careful to use the right language. Of course, they could have already found a candidate, but then why not take down the ad? It hurts.

First interview

The first interview is for a company in another industry, one much more interesting to me than tech. I am meeting first with a talent manager. I look her up on LinkedIn. She is barely out of university and yes, it was media studies. Ah well.

In the interview, she focuses on my experience, which is great because I can tick every box. She is bubbly and I automatically mirror her style a little. Within a couple of the hours, the recruiter gives me the feedback I am not going through to the next stage. Really? When I ticked every box and the interview went well?

The reason given. Fit. In other words, she didn’t like me. Again, I am hurt. Of the three, this was the most interesting company, and it comes down to a subjective judgement by a teenager. Did I mirror her too much? Should I have come across as more measured? Would I want to work somewhere where that was necessary? Still, there is one open application left.

This time, I meet a talent manager based in eastern Europe. There is much confusion when I start to ask questions based on the job description because it turns out the role they are interviewing me for is not the one I responded to. Really? In that case, perhaps they could share the job description with me?

She does, and it is virtually the same wording but doesn’t refer to a business unit. That’s fine, but what is written is completely different to the job she is describing. I think it is perhaps a generic description.

Lost in translation?

It doesn’t tell me what I need to know, such as: who it reports to, and is it regional or global? The talent manager says I can cover that in the line manager interview. Well, I guess that means I am through to the next stage, but I still don’t know exactly what I am being interviewed for.

The interview with the line manager is even more confusing. Her whole team is in a state of flux with most of them having resigned, and while she doesn’t know where I would fit in, she thinks I would be a great fit.

Indeed, I soon receive an invite to meet her boss and an HR colleague, but I am not sure. If I hated my job, I might take the risk of joining a company that hasn’t worked out what they want.

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For now, I’d rather stay with the devil I know. Still, I bookmark those job sites. You never know.

Next time… Candid is invited to help with global wellbeing.