JT O’Donnell recently discussed the new tactic that companies are using to get people to work for them: the exploding job offer. We at Structural Stupidists will discuss a firm that uses this tactic and introduce you to another bad engineering firm. This particular one is unique because it is the first one with an exploding job offer. Let us tell you what happened with a candidate.
The Applicant applied for a Project Manager at Hammontree & Associates back in 2012. They have offices in the Akron, OH, and Pittsburgh, PA, areas. At that time, they were a growing Structural Engineering firm. Here is the ad they posted on their website:
PROJECT MANAGERS and SENIOR DESIGNERS, who have demonstrated that they can develop a solid client base & have excellent technical skills in the areas of land development, municipal engineering & planning services, water/wastewater, environmental engineering & structural engineering. Professional Registrations preferred.
The Applicant received his/her first phone call in November 2012 from Charles Hammontree himself.
The Applicant received this email from University of Dayton alumnus Charles Hammontree on November 1, 2012.
Excellent credentials Mr./Ms. X.
Needless to say we are very interested in the prospect of you joining our firm. Thank you for the response.
Charles Hammontree wrote this email:
Ok Mr./Ms. X. Would you appreciate a job with more opportunity to advance in an area with a much lower cost of living and the ability to assist with building your backlog of work? Other firms seem to hire and layoff as the big contracts come and go. We keep good staff between contracts and are slow to layoff especially talented engineers. Of course big salaries with little work is tough business model for any firm.
What the Applicant got as a response back from Charles Hammontree floored him/her. The Applicant received this email on January 15, 2013:
This is obviously a bait and switch because it was not a full-time, long-term career opportunity that he stated earlier. This was an exploding job offer plain and simple.
There were plenty of unanswered questions:
- Where did the full-time position go? Why work for only a month? Would anyone in their right mind move to Akron, OH, to work only a month? So much for career opportunities that he promised!
Imagine if Hammontree & Associates were a car dealership and they ran an ad for a luxury car for $10K. You go to the dealership and the advertised car was not there. Would you trust that dealership again? Absolutely not!
- What happens when someone works more than 40 hours a week? Is the time banked for use later? According to the company’s handbook, there is NO comp time. In fact, the company expects salaried employees to work 5 hours above the 40 hour week for free. So the Applicant would have been screwed out of my money.
- What happened to the job he was offering? According to his job offer letter, it would happen pending an in-person interview with Charles Hammontree himself. Did Charles forget that the Applicant interviewed him for three months for a permanent position with his firm? This sounds like he wastes time. If he were movie characters, he would be Ten Second Ted from 50 First Dates! Perhaps the Men In Black showed up and had Charles Hammontree’s memory erased!
Guess what happened, folks? The Applicant called the firm repeatedly and did not get a call back. It is an exploding job offer because the Applicant had a very short time to respond to it.
The four reasons for exploding job offers are because the employer:
- Tends to have a really hard time recruiting candidates
(b) Is desperate to fill the position immediately
(c) Knows you’ll never choose them if you have the chance to consider other offers
(d) Sees candidates as virtually identical, and is perfectly happy moving quickly to someone else
Hammontree & Associates fits all of these red flags to a tee. Charles Hammontree may have attended a Catholic high school but he is in no way Catholic. In our encounters, Charles Hammontree’s Bible is short a few commandments like “Thou shalt not bear false witness.”
As painful as this situation is, it’s actually a blessing in disguise, and the Applicant handled it correctly by walking away. Because when an employer uses a bait-and-switch tactic, it means at least one of the following:
* The company is unethical.
* The manager Charles Hammontree is unethical.
* The environment is chaotic.
* The company is going through a reorganization.
* The corporate culture is abusive.
* The job is different from what you were told it would be.
* The company will rescind other things it offered you, such as bonuses, benefits, or vacation time.
Hopefully, you never experience a bait and switch, but if you do, count your blessings! You have just dodged a career bullet.
The reason we believe Charles Hammontree only wanted to hire the Applicant for a month is because they had a problem they wanted to be solved immediately. Charles Hammontree was using the Applicant to buy time for the candidate they really wanted. If this is not an example of how candidates are used, we do not know what is!
Clients may have no idea he is doing this. If their deadlines were not being met, they have the right to know why. And Charles Hammontree’s recruiting process may be the key reason. Are you a client of Hammontree & Associates? You are if you are:
Steve Katz, Vice President, Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce
Anna Capaldi, Truste, Perry Township
Steve Paquette, President, Stark Development Board
Bob Sanderson, Director, Stark County Regional Planning Commission
Bob Nau, AICP, Director, Stark County Regional Planning Commission
James McGrath, Project Manager, Ohio Department of Transportation
Joe Race, Executive Director, Stark County Building Industry Associations
Jamie Wagner, Director of Franchise and Corporate Construction, Subway
Paul Pickett, PE City Engineer, City of Green
Bob Fronte, Director, Stark Parks
John Kilgore, P.E., Manager of Trail Projects, Cleveland Metro Parks Engineering and Design
Al Brubaker, P.E., P.S., Summit County Engineer, Summit County
Robert Graham, P.E., Principal, ME/IBI Group
Bill Yen & Ian Ainslie, Elliot & Associates Architects
We do not expect Charles Hammontree to apologize to Applicants ever. But we do want to warn others that exploding job offers are real at Hammontree & Associates. Other firms may have them. The bright side is that people will know who is doing them.