Hiring managers who are trying to recruit top talent usually focus on their companies’ amazing cultures, competitive pay, or plentiful opportunities for advancement. They tend to stay away from the negative aspects of the job—and who can blame them? After all, it’s not like you talk about all your flaws on the first date.
But Jeff Bezos takes the opposite approach at Amazon. When courting candidates, he warns them, “It’s not easy to work here.”
Surprisingly, this technique works well—really well.
Think about the sort of personality that’s intrigued, not intimidated, by such a statement; it’s a self-selecting type that thrives on challenges. It therefore makes total sense that Amazon’s employees are known to be especially passionate, determined people.
“Our culture is friendly and intense, but if push comes to shove we’ll settle for intense,” Bezos said to Forbes magazine.
In addition, being upfront about the rigors of the job makes a potential employee more ready to believe all of the positive things he or she is being told—after all, if the hiring manager is honest about the bad, it follows he or she is honest about the good, too.
If you’re ever in the recruiting position, you may have just found the perfect statement to round out your pitch. However, anyone in a professional setting can use this same strategy.
Suppose you’re describing a project to your co-workers and you tell them, “This won’t be an easy task—but it’ll have huge rewards.” Now they feel like you trust them and consider them capable. They’ll want to prove you right.
Or you’re talking to a client and you tell him or her, “Delivering on X will be difficult, but I’m fully committed to making it happen, because your company’s success is important to us.”
The key is to use it authentically; don’t turn molehills into mountains. But if a task, project, or job is going to be challenging, admitting that definitely motivates the people around you.