The job market has changed, but some hiring managers haven’t received the memo.
Many use the same practices as they did when they enjoyed an employers’ market, when job seekers jumped at every open position: they expect candidates with a dazzling list of skills and experience, they fail to respect candidates’ value by offering mediocre salaries, and they want the perfect candidate now.
An article from the Society for Human Resource Management points to two key reasons for this “unicorn” mindset:
- The job market was so bad for so long that employers are used to getting what they want;
- Hiring managers are under tremendous pressure to make a fast hire who can ramp up quickly.
It’s not rocket science to see the dangers of this approach. Candidates get rushed through the process and don’t understand the culture of their new employers (and possibly the realities of the job itself) until it’s too late. Communication breaks down between hiring managers and recruiters who can’t deliver stellar candidates ASAP. Filling open positions takes longer than ever.
If recruiters are pressured into finding candidates who are “good enough” to speed up the process, the long-term results can be disastrous when the employee doesn’t measure up to over-the-top expectations and the relationship crumbles. Replacing a new employee is far worse for productivity and company budgets than managing the hiring process correctly from the beginning.
To be fair, hiring managers are under extreme pressure and may not understand the realities of the outside job market. Others are filling jobs that are designed by committee, with too many stakeholders and too many expectations. In some cases, the person is simply inexperienced in the process. And some hiring managers don’t understand their company’s unique culture and brand, let alone articulate it.
That’s where recruiters can serve as consultants, as counselors, and as windows to the world of talent. Like a good reporter, recruiters need to dig past the job description and learn about the manager’s goals for the position: what are they trying to achieve with the hire? What makes the role unique? What talent already exists on the team? Who occupied the role previously, and what potential is there for the new hire?
Once the story has been uncovered, recruiters need to wear their counseling capo and empathize with the pressure and uncertainly the manager is facing. But they need to be the voice of reason. They must set realistic expectations about what the market will bear, whether a talent shortage exists in that industry or specialized field, and how long it may take to find the “perfect” candidate.
That’s why it’s critical to include managers in the discovery and execution of the plan to fill the job. One idea for recruiters is to show employers a wave of resumes of who they consider as top candidates, and those who have great potential. Ask managers to rank the priorities of those skills and competencies that matter most.
Next, review the company’s culture with the hiring manager. A recent Talent Culture article notes that many managers are great employees but they don’t quite understand their company culture, much less have the ability to explain it. This information is critical to a great candidate experience and can be the catalyst that helps a candidate choose your company above a competitor. Once again, don that reporter’s fedora and talk through the details of a company’s culture with the hiring manager. Is the work environment laid-back or high-stress? Does it allow for creativity and open collaboration? The manager should be able to discuss the candidate’s department or team in a positive and realistic way.
Another area of focus is interviewing – is the hiring manager a good interviewer? The Talent Culture article points out that the number one complaint from candidates is about their interview. In years past, the article notes, a hiring manger could appear at the end of the process, meet the top candidates and pick the one he or she wanted. Now they have to be on message, in line with the company brand and ready to “sell” the company.
If the manager isn’t delivering a unique, authentic message that top candidates want to hear, they risk driving those candidates away. Craft some key messages to connect recruiting efforts with a candidate’s experience interviewing. Offer role-playing scenarios and practice until they can say in their sleep what makes their company unique.
There’s no perfect solution to “Talent on Demand” syndrome, but with open and honest conversations that begin on day one, you’ll help manage expectations, establish a strong collaborative process, and land that successful hire.