Is candidate management like a visit to the dentist?


I am writing this blog whilst waiting for the anaesthtic to wear off following a fairly painful visit to the dentist. Don’t get me wrong, I like my dentist, he’s a good guy and as far as I am aware he knows what he is doing but let’s be honest none of us exactly look forward to visiting the dentist. I hate to say it but many people feel the same about working with Recruiters.

Yesterday’s visit was to remove a troublesome crown to “see what’s happening underneath”, something that maybe the X-ray had failed to reveal and it got me thinking (whilst I was lying there pretending to be brave) that this experience has a lot of similarities with how we should be assiting candidates who are looking for a new role.

Why? I believe that there are some fundamental steps that a lot of recruiters miss when they are working with candidates that make the role of a recruiter much harder than it needs to be. They are mainly very simple but also very effective.

Why are they looking for a new role? In many cases candidates have a tendency to give a fairly topline answer to this. It is only when you dig a bit deeper and find out what else is happening that you have a full picture of the circumstances. Without this information you are (a) unable to discuss suitable roles with them, and (b) reduce the risk of a counter-offer when they resign.

What are they really looking for? What are their key motivators? Is it money, role, location, work / life balance, progression or a host of other things that could be in play. I have known of sales candidates who have turned down a role because it came with the “wrong car”. You need to dig a bit deeper and see what is going on beneath the surface to ensure that you are only discussing their ideal role with them and ensuring that you have the best chance of placing them.

The best solution may require some short term pain. We have all heard (and probably used) the phrase “short term pain for long term gain” but what does this really mean? At the dentist yesterday it was pretty apparent that some drilling, prodding and poking might sort this toothache out once and for all but in the context of a job seeker it is equally relevant.

Perhaps they need to wait for the right opportunity instead of just accepting the first offer to come along. Maybe they take a slightly more junior role to get in to the right organisation where they can be trained and develop. They may even need advising to stay where they are for the time being to improve their skills and experience for another 12 months. It may not be what they want to hear (or you want to tell them because there’s no fee there) but if it is what a recruiter believes then they should have the guts to say so.

I am not suggesting in this blog that candidates are dishonest but they will only answer the questions that they are asked and without probing further you will only ever get a top line view of the real issues. In doing so, you may place them but you are only giving them a temporary crown that won’t last and will need to be removed at some stage and replaced with a more permanent solution.