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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

The Recruiting Jedi Mind Trick

“These are not the droids you are looking for….” For the Star Wars aficionados out there, you will all remember this classic line from Star Wars when Ben Kenobi uses the Jedi mind trick on some unsuspecting Stormtroopers. For those not as familiar, the gist of what occurred is that Ben Kenobi and Luke Skywalker (the good guys) were stopped by Imperial Stormtroopers (the bad guys) as they were trying to get two droids (R2D2 and C3PO) to safety because they contained important information. The Stormtroopers were “on to” Ben and Luke until Ben used the Jedi mind trick to plant the thought into the Stormtroopers heads by “telling” them, that, “These are not the Droids you are looking for.” The Stormtroopers were “convinced” and let Ben and Luke go.

Ben_KenobiAs HR Pros and Recruiters, a big part of our job is us utilizing the recruiting Jedi mind trick to convince hiring managers that the desired candidate/person they want to hire is, in fact, “not the candidate that they are looking for.” The typical scenario we are faced with is a hiring manager that comes to HR/Recruiting with a specific need. They then provide a laundry list of knowledge, skills and abilities that a person coming into the position is required to have. Basically, they provide the recruiter a magical list of all the desirable attributes that they believe someone needs in order to hit the ground running.
This is where the recruiting Jedi mind trick comes into play. The likelihood of finding that software developer with 10+ years of experience in object oriented programming in C++ and Java, with a Bachelor of computer science from M.I.T. and who is willing to relocate to your firm in Tuktoyaktuk (look it up, it exists) are slim to none.

You need to be convincing the hiring manager they need to look for someone else. Now, don’t get me wrong, if you are looking for someone who is willing to make a lateral move and/or you can compete solely on dollars, than you are probably able to find a reasonable facsimile of this person. However, if you are like most companies, you need to compete on the basis of it being a career opportunity. Lou Adler really drives this point home in the numerous speaking engagements and training sessions he does. Lou drive home the point that you need to focus on the opportunity as a career move and focus on why someone would want to make this move to your company. Lou advocates that you don’t look for a set of skills and qualifications; you focus on what it is you need someone to be able to do in the position – i.e. what is the most important thing someone needs to be able to do in the role to be considered successful. Lou teaches his recruiting students to focus on what candidates need to be able to do…not what they need to have. Quite frankly, I couldn’t agree more!

This really hit home for me the other day when I had a conversation with a colleague in the industry about her recruiting challenges. She called me up wanting to chat about the difficulties she was having finding an Engineering Safety Manager to lead the safety function in her manufacturing environment. Due to the complexities of the role, it did require a professional engineering background and they wanted someone who has done this before in the same environment. The icing on the cake was that the plan was located in a very rural environment. They were having an extremely difficult time finding someone and the use of 3rd party search firms was not helpful either. She asked me if I thought that these types of candidates even existed.

I asked her who was performing the role now and she indicated, in fact, they had someone who was in the role temporarily but didn’t want to continue to do it based on the location. She said they were working out quite well but can’t be convinced to stay in the rural location and wanted to be back in the home office (city based). I asked her if prior to this person going into this role, they had any experience leading a safety function in a large manufacturing environment. When she told me no, I knew that the Jedi mind trick could be used.

I spoke to her at length about leveraging this knowledge with the hiring manager and working with him to identify what makes the incumbent’s performance so good, and then start your search based on that. In other words, if you know that you can train on safety knowledge, than you are really looking for someone with the analytical ability to identify and diagnose mechanical issues at the plant that can cause safety impacting concerns. You need someone who has displayed vision and foresight in a previous capacity and is looking to make their next career move and are willing to go to a rural location to do it. Bottom line – anyone doing this role now is not going to make a lateral move to a new company at a rural location to do the same thing.

This is the classic case of where the recruiting Jedi mind trick can work – you need to convince the hiring manager that the person that is currently an Engineering Safety Manager with the full set of skills and qualifications desired is, in fact, NOT the candidate they are looking for. What they really are looking for, is someone with transferable skills that can show you that what they have done in a previous/current role correlates to what you are looking for in your open position.

What about you? Do you think the recruiting Jedi mind trick can work for you? As always, I welcome your thoughts and feedback.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.org

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