The Recruiter’s Conundrum

People Science Reimagining Talent Acquisition

Anyone who has ever worked in Talent Acquisition and has had the job of finding the right person for a position is probably familiar with what I call the ‘Recruiter’s Conundrum.’

The Recruiter’s Conundrum is trying to fill a position with very specific and strict requirements, only to find that interested candidates aren’t qualified and qualified candidates aren’t interested.

What do you do when you come to this recruiting catch-22? As I see it, there are three options:

Option One: Take a good, long, hard look at the requirements. How do they directly relate to the day-to-day work of the position? Then, consider what other criteria might make a good fit. Would a candidate from a different sort of background or slightly less education but more experience still be a potential match for the position? You need to be careful with this option and really do your homework. Take into account the particulars of your market, including population size and competitors. Perhaps get in touch with the Chamber of Commerce and find out the climate towards the same type of work you’re trying to place in that area.

Then you need to do the difficult part: have a conversation with your hiring manager. Explain the challenges you face and how expanding the parameters of the requirements will greatly benefit not only the search effort, but also the end result of getting a fill. Provide the hiring manager with sample resumes and be ready to explain those how individuals with their particular experiences and qualifications would fit the position. Also, be sure to stress that reconsidering the requirements can shorten the time to fill.

This approach is tricky. We all know that some hiring managers are simply more open than others. It cannot be stressed enough that you need to tread carefully. You don’t want it to seem as though you are incompetent, but at the same time, such a conversation may give you just enough wiggle room to get that fill. Remember also that just as you are hoping the hiring manager will be open to you and your ideas, you must be open to them and their suggestions. There is a very good possibility that this is not their first rodeo, and you can really benefit from listening to their experiences.

Option Two: Take a good, long, hard look at your sourcing methods. When there are no more Boolean search terms, when job boards go dry, when work-related social media yields nothing, when current employee referrals are nil, it is time to get creative. Who exactly is it that you’re trying to reach? Put on your thinking cap and try to walk a mile in the shoes of someone who would be a good candidate. What is their day-to-day life like? Where do they eat, shop and play? Find a way to network and/or advertise with these places. If you’re unsure where to start, try to contact individuals who already work for the client. They may be able to give you some insight. Consult with your colleagues as well. What have they done in the past to creatively source? Brainstorming is a great way to get your creative juices flowing.

This option is always viable because it is within your control. The extremely good news is that considering things from another point of view—the candidate’s—does not cost a cent.

Option Three: Take a breath, and then keep on keeping on. When the requirements are not flexible, when the creative sourcing methods still do not yield anything, when you feel like giving up, take a step back. Read an article. Work on another project. Talk a walk outside. Give yourself some down time. Then come back refreshed.

This option is also viable for you. While temporarily walking away from something that requires your attention sounds like a bad idea on the surface, it actually isn’t. Taking a step back will also allow you to look at the whole picture. Sometimes focusing too much for too long on a small section can make you less aware of other factors. When you look again with fresh eyes, you may see something that you didn’t see before.

In summary: When you come to the Recruiter’s Conundrum, consider speaking with the hiring manager to modify the requirements; assess your sourcing methods and try to think of new ways to connect with candidates; and when all else fails and you want to give up, take some time to refresh.

Good luck and happy hunting!

By JoAnna Tumminello | People Science Talent Advisor


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