Mr Fussy and Mr Flexible – What To Look For In A Candidate When You’re Recruiting
Via LinkedIn : Mr Fussy wanted to hire a new member of staff. He knew exactly what he wanted: he wanted someone who was exactly the same as the last person he hired to do the job. There are specific companies he wants to poach people from and there are specific skills he needs them to have.
He tried sourcing this person himself from his own networking on Linkedin, but he could only email those people, and they were too busy working to reply to him. So he called a Recruitment Agency and told them what he wanted, and got on with things whilst he waited for the Recruiter to send over CVs. The Recruiter was glad of the business, so he dutifully took down his client’s brief and scurried off to source candidates.
However, it soon became clear that Mr Fussy was actually very good at what he did and had a number of clear differences from his competitors, so it was actually very difficult to find suitable candidates who had strong enough CVs. What the Recruiter did find though, was that people who worked for the competitors that were good at what they did had been promoted into management, and those that weren’t were readily available because they’d moved onto other things. So instead of paying for a relatively junior candidate, Mr Fussy would have to pay an even higher salary to attract good people.
Mr Fussy wasn’t happy about this so he contacted other Recruitment Agencies in the hope that they would somehow come back with more candidates. They dutifully went off to source candidates of their own, but all they ended up doing was contact the same candidates as the first Recruiter.
When Mr Fussy interviewed the candidates he could tell that they knew they were in demand, and frankly, whilst they clearly wanted to leave their current employers and had very good industry knowledge, they weren’t exactly what he wanted. He felt compelled to hire one – the least worst, but when Mr Fussy did make an offer to a candidate, they were counter-offered by their current employer and decided to stay.
Mr Flexible on the other hand was also looking to hire. He thought about the skills he wanted from his new recruit, and ranked them in order of importance with the top five being “essential” and the bottom five being “desirable.” By doing this he thought through which skills he could train and which he would need the candidate to come in with. His justification was that if he could hire a more junior candidate with the right “essential” skills and the willingness to learn, he could spend less on their salary but more on their training to cultivate the “desirable” skills. By doing this, he was able to find candidates form a much broader skillset who had a lot more to offer in the long run.
Both of these stories are based on numerous true scenarios and represent a struggle recruiters often find themselves with clients who are too nervous or too dogmatic to think further afield. From the client’s perspective, they’re paying the recruiter to find them people and if they can’t find them then they’ll someone else who can.
From the recruiter’s perspective, all they’re trying to do is set the client’s expectations so that they don’t end up in a situation where they need the candidate so much that the candidate is able to negotiate whatever terms they like – that’s assuming such a candidate exists.
Training new recruits does involve time and money, and during this time, they are costing you additional money in lost time, but it gives you the opportunity to mould them the way you want them – not bringing over their prejudicial “baggage” from their previous employer.
To me it boils down to the three things that we look for in a candidate: knowledge, skills and attitude.
Knowledge can come from experience or from studying. Don’t get me wrong, there are many jobs where a suitable qualification is not just necessary, but a legal requirement. But we do have to understand that knowledge is relatively easy to gain and in many cases theoretical knowledge is not all it’s cracked up to be.
Skills come only from practice and application. Just as you wouldn’t recruit a bomb disposal technician based on the books they’d read, there are certain skills that you really want to see in a good candidate. But just because a candidate hasn’t demonstrated that skill in a previous situation, doesn’t mean they couldn’t. Our bomb disposal technician may be awful at evacuating buildings that are about to explode, simply because he’s so good, he’s never had to. That doesn’t make him bad at diffusing bombs.
Attitude however is the driving force that makes us all different, and you can’t learn that. It’s what makes me different from you and from my friends, and it’s what gets me up in the morning to rush to work to do what I enjoy. Anyone can read a book, and with enough practice most of us could learn new skills, but if the attitude to motivate you to do it isn’t there it simply won’t happen.
Mr Flexible gets this. He wants someone with the right basic skills, sure, but he knows that if the candidate’s attitude is driving them in the right direction, they’ll respond to his nurturing and training and work hard to be successful for him. Mr Fussy hopes that the candidate he poaches will do as well for him as they’ve done for their competitor – kinda limiting though isn’t it?
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