Recruiting Unicorns

Recruiting Unicorns

This month’s topic is unicorns.   Not the Silicon Valley type, or start-ups, but candidates who are so exceptional that they are on-the-spot-hireable.  Every so often we come across one of these elusive creatures and send them to a client with a strong recommendation to Hire Right Now, or someone else will do it for you.

Unicorns aside, the rest of us are rather more ordinary.We fall into that nice bell curve of ability – most of us somewhere in the middle.  But clients, of course, always want to hire from the right hand tail: the better quality candidates (if they can’t get their hands on a unicorn).The only problem with that is that everyone else wants to as well.  We try to persuade our clients that every candidate we send is worth interviewing – and the reasons why.  Part of our job is to give our clients options, so that they don’t have to hire the best of the worst (the usual experience with a job ad).  We’re trying to secure the best of the best – in that right hand tail. 

But when that is done, we do want our clients to hire someone.  There has to be a balance between ticking all the boxes with a perfect candidate according to the job description, versus finding the right person to fit with the culture who you can train up for skills.  Sometimes employers lose sight of that, and persist in looking for exactly the right candidate when, just perhaps, one of the people who doesn’t totally match the JD is the right hire, and will be even better if given a bit of training or whatever.That old saw – hire for attitude, train for skills – hits the right spot.

Finally, a few words about getting that great candidate on board.  As I mentioned, when unicorns appear they need to be snared.  Quickly.  Or you can be sure that your competitor will do it for you – and instead of having her on your payroll, you’ll be meeting her at the next industry function and wishing that you had moved faster.  Slow HR processes are particularly bad for recruitment in two ways: the candidate is going to get fed up waiting; and the line manager is going to be frustrated that she can’t hire the talent she wants.  The sting of losing great candidates to more nimble employers lasts much longer than the pleasure of having great – but slow – HR processes.

As usual, let me know if you have any particular topic you would like to see covered here.


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