7 No-Win Vacancies: Part 1
The headhunter's incompetency and employer’s unclear demands are two main reasons why the hiring process may be delayed or even fail. There are a lot of tips for headhunters about methods of work, what to learn and what mistakes to avoid. However, the employer’s demand and its professional assessment can be even more important. An experienced headhunter can give the employer a piece of advice on how to optimize their requirements and the hiring process to fill in the position efficiently.
In my experience as a headhunter, I received various examples of job descriptions - that is employers’ requirements: from a blank piece of paper with a signature to precise demands on every aspect on 15 pages. However, there was always one thing that united them all - employers and their subconscious. Sometimes, the manager actually didn’t want to fill in the position, sometimes, he or she didn’t tell the reason why a certain candidate was declined. I developed several ways to work with such employers and would like to share them with you.
1. “I look to the future”
This approach occurs mostly in big companies. The manager sees that other departments are growing and resources are available. Or a possible growth of the company was briefly discussed at a meeting. There is a certain type of managers that cannot miss such an opportunity. They burst in the headhunter’s office like a tornado and demand to find them new employees immediately, right on the spot. Such a search may never end. A similar situation can occur if the manager wants to fill in vacant positions in the staff in fear of losing the funding of his or her department.
However, the manager will soon cool down and will review your candidates for months. And if you stop sending resumes and appoint interviews, the search will gradually fade away. Try to cool down impulsive requests. Ask the manager clarifying questions and let him or her think them over for a couple of days. Tell him or her that you are too busy to deal with the new request right now. Arrange a meeting in a couple of days and it’s quite possible that the request will never leave the manager’s table.
2. “I need this kind of a person”
Yes, employers’ requirements can sound like that. It is a complete failure. Personality is only one of the candidate’s characteristics. If the employer wants to hire a certain personality, it is not easy to say what duties this person will have in the company and where to look for such a person. Such requirements are typical of inexperienced managers or managers relying on their intuition rather than logic in hiring. The first thing you should do as a headhunter is to find out why the employer needs such a type of person. Then analyze and compare the desired personal characteristics with the job description and discuss possible risks and opportunities with the employer. Don’t start your search without the detailed discussion.
3. “I am afraid of rivalry”
Managers driven by this fear will spoil your statistics and make a fool of themselves. Usually, these are managers who got their post only recently and don’t have much experience in management that is why well-qualified candidates make them nervous. Probably, at first, such a manager will try to prove his or her expertise and authority in all possible ways. Even if he or she has a lot of work and needs an independent employee, he or she will choose a less qualified and less ambitious candidate. Over time the manager gets used to the post, their fear fades away and requirements to the new employee grow. It is not rare that the employee cannot cope with the new demands. As a result, the blame even may be laid on the headhunter because he or she has found the wrong candidate. And you will have to start your search all over again but with higher requirements. In this case, you can emphasize the candidate’s motivation. Find experts without too high ambitions so you can fill in the position with a worthy specialist on the first try.
4. “I need a star for common work”
The most spoiled of all employers. They always want the best of the best candidates. Only the cleverest, most beautiful and most ambitious people can work in their company. But the situation is quite different at a closer look. Such employers are skilled enough and have gathered quite a good team. However, their way of thinking makes them set other requirements. Their candidates must have a degree in quantum physics, multiply five digit numbers mentally and write poems in their free time. And of course, they must read a couple of books in their field every day. This list may go on and on and on. But the offered position is a simple sales department assistant.
You might agree with erudition and analytical thinking and quietly leave out all the rest demands without telling the employer about it. The best method, in this case, is testing the candidates in certain skills and rating them. Otherwise, such an employer won’t select anyone at all - all candidates will be a “spoiled generation” and not what the employer actually wants.