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One in hand vs. Two in the Bush

I am sure we are all familiar with the old story/proverb of the value of having one of something vs. the potential of having two or more of the same “something.” In many countries this is known as A bird in hand is worth more than two in the bush.  Essentially, the lesson learned is that having something in your grasp or in fact, something that is “yours” is far more valuable than the potential of having more things but with the risk of having to give up what you already have.

bird-in-handI have found this proverb to be very applicable to modern day recruiting and dealing with hiring managers. You see, at the end of the day, hiring managers are always looking at the value of two in the bush. Meaning, while they may have a candidate presented to them by you as the recruiter that meets a significant portion of the job requirements, many of them are always keeping an eye out for that other potential candidate that meets all of the requirements, requires no training, is a superstar, comes from an identical industry and doesn’t mind working 40 hours of overtime a week with no extra compensation. I am being a bit facetious here, but you get the point.

This is a constant struggle for recruiters – managing hiring managers – and the acceptance of a highly qualified candidate is probably at the top of the list. I know we have all felt the frustration of a hiring manager’s indecision. You source, recruit and present a great slate of candidates. The hiring manager interviews and is impressed, especially with one in particular and indicates to you that they would be a great hire, but…they want to wait “to see what else is out there.” WTH? It is at that point in time the recruiter snaps and wants to put the hiring manager in the rear naked choke hold .

How can recruiters avoid this scenario from happening? Well, the tough answer is that generally speaking, you can’t. Hiring managers often suffer from decision-making paralysis. They have been brought up thinking that there is a “right” hiring decision to be made and all other decisions are wrong. They have been led to believe there is a perfect candidate out there and they want to wait (for you) to find that candidate, because, well you know, they EXIST (yeah right).

How can you minimize this from happening? Well, this is the good news. You can control this a bit.   A lot of this occurs at the intake meeting. Make sure you get a hiring commitment up front from the hiring manager – this works best when it is in writing (can be as simple as an email). You want the hiring manager’s commitment/agreement on:

  1. Providing you with an accurate performance profile: what a person in the job needs to be able to do (this is different form a job description). The reason this is key is because if a hiring manager gives you a job description, it will simply be a laundry list of wishes of things they want in the perfect candidate. Don’t fall for this trap.
  2. Their availability – get a commitment up front as to when they will be interviewing for the role, because well, you WILL find them good candidates. If possible, schedule some dates in advance. This way, you can progress with your screening and your hiring manager has to review potential candidates efficiently as they already have interview times set up.
  3. Agree in writing as to what constitutes a good candidate vs. a great one and get commitment on hiring any “great” candidates. This should be done before the interview and scored immediately after the interview. That way, if a hiring manager agrees that a score of 4+ overall is a “great” score, anyone that scores a 4+ will be made an offer.

Point number 3 is a key one because you are getting the buy in before you meet candidates. This will help you avoid the scenario where you have a candidate interview, they get scored a 4.5, and the manager (despite loving the candidate) still defers and wants to see more candidates. You then need to ask the manager: “So, Bob, you agreed going into the interview process that anyone that scored a 4+ would be considered a GREAT candidate based on the performance profile. Therefore, we were looking for 4+’s during the selection process. We have found you a 4.5 – which is better than the 4+ considered to be great…why would we not be hiring this person? Has the selection criteria changed? Is a 4+ not great? Have the expectations/standards changed? What have we missed here?” It is at this point in time you have to remind them of one in hand vs. two in the bush. “Bob, we can certainly continue to source for you. It may take us another 2-6 weeks to present more candidates that may or may not be as good as this one. In the interim, it is highly likely you will lose the candidate you scored a 4.5. Are you willing to take that risk? This means your job will have been open for over 2.5 months? If you are willing to take the risk, we are willing to continue to source for you.”

Above all, you need to get the manager to understand that THEY were the ones who identified what they were looking for and what GREAT looked like. They have found GREAT and now GREAT is no longer GREAT. What has changed? At the end of the day, the pre-commitment approach will work with many managers. There are still others (who shouldn’t be managing or hiring) that will want to look at other candidates regardless. My advice, if you are an agency recruiter – work closest to the money. If you are in-house, you will need to focus on other clients reqs. if you have them. If you don’t, you still have to suck up the hit to your time to fill metric and soldier on…or move into HR. As always, I welcome your feedback and comments.

Photo courtesy of Pezibear/Pixabay.com


Recruiting and the Art of Push vs. Pull

Followers of The Armchair HR Manager will recall that back in early January, I blogged about the “5 Attributes of Exceptional Recruiters.” Since then, I have received numerous inquiries and questions asking me to further expand on this topic. I figured since so many people were asking, it was worth another blog post on the topic! A lot of the dialogue I had with colleagues after the blog post went up centered on how lacking these skill sets are/were in many recruiters today – both in-house and agency. When I take a 2nd look at what makes a successful recruiter, setting aside sourcing and sales/negotiation skills (as a given), I think what fundamentally separates good from great recruiters is their communication skills. Now I know for many of you this may seem obvious but I am not referring to things like the ability to communicate effectively verbally and in written form (although that is sorely lacking as well!) What I am getting at is how a recruiter “owns” communication during the recruiting process.

PushBased on my experience running recruiting shops and HR departments, the very best recruiters have an innate ability to “own” communication during the recruiting cycle – both with the hiring manager and with the candidate. They do so by utilizing a “push” approach vs. “pull” when it comes to communicating to all parties. The best recruiters are those that push communication to hiring managers in the form of candidate updates, potential obstacles, “gateways” that been successfully passed during the hiring process (i.e. pre-employment testing) and they are able to create a sense of urgency with the hiring manager so as not to lose the best candidates. By employing a push strategy, these recruiters instill a sense of confidence with their clients as they are showing that they are on top of things. They also push communications with their candidates by keeping them in the loop when hiring managers are delayed in their decision making. They find reasons to contact candidates on a regular basis in order to continue to create those communication touch points. This allows for greater rapport building with candidates and it also prevents a recruiter from being blindsided by the candidate coming forward and saying they have another offer. Great recruiters know when and where their candidates are during the hiring process for both jobs they are staffing for and for other positions the candidate is applying for.

By utilizing this push strategy, the recruiter provides the hiring manager with a sense of confidence that everything is under control during the hiring process, in essence they bring a sense of calmness that all is under control. They also give the hiring manager an opportunity to address/respond to obstacles that may interfere with a potential hire (i.e. salary, start date, counter offers, etc.) and are able to effectively partner to remove those obstacles whenever possible. In the ideal world, hiring managers would own more of this process and be accountable for timely decision making; however, the reality is that for many recruiters and organizations this just isn’t the case. That is why, in order to be successful, the best recruiters take ownership of this and make themselves personally accountable for pushing the communication and decision-making process. In essence, they force-feed all the data points to the hiring manager as they press towards a close with the candidate and the manager.

Conversely, the pull approach, as you can imagine, is the complete opposite. Without going point by point, this is simply a case where the hiring manager is the one reaching out to the recruiter to find out where their candidate is in the process, asking why they aren’t hired yet and trying to ascertain what else needs to be done to get that person onboard. The best recruiters have regular check-ins with hiring managers to keep them apprised of their progress, thereby eliminating the need for a manager to even need to pull communication from a recruiter. I have seen far too many cases where a recruiter allows communication to dwindle between themselves and a hiring manager because they had not been receiving any feedback/responses from the manager re. candidates, etc. Recruiters then tend to leave it up to the manage to get back to them, unfortunately, unbeknownst to the recruiter, things suddenly take a magical urgent turn and the manager is left wondering where their candidate is and why they aren’t hired yesterday! The solution – be proactive and push communication! That is what separates the best from all the rest.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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