“I want the truth” “You can’t handle the truth”

I've got your talent, right here.

Sometimes I think the one big safety-pin that’s holding the 3rd party recruitment industry together is the widely-held belief that the best candidates (aka “talent”) are currently doing the same job for a similar company.


Let's be honest here – what’s really attractive about candidates already doing the same job somewhere else is that they’re seen as potential employees who won’t really need to be assessed, trained or managed.


They sometimes go by the term passive candidates.


Hiring someone who doesn’t need to be assessed, trained or managed seems to have become the holy grail for many risk averse managers. And if recruitment agencies have one skill, it’s knowing how to feed the insecurities of their target market.


Whenever a candidate is described as “talent”, invariably one of the people involved in that conversation is a hiring manager. The other is an agency recruiter.


If they’re working for a large corporate and they weren’t already lazy or naive, then the chances are they’ve become imbued with a disease that inflicts all very large businesses eventually.


That disease is called institutional arrogance.


Institutional arrogance manifests itself when a hiring manager believes that they don’t have to sell their employment opportunities. That just by having a job vacancy, they’re doing the world a favour.


Agency recruiters buy into this because they think the job will be easy to sell - like in this completely made-up phone exchange:


Recruiter: “Hi, I have a role I think you’ll be interested in at Starbucks.”


Candidate: “Why do you think I’ll be interested in it?”


Recruiter: “Because it’s with Starbucks.”


For some reason, a lot of people involved in hiring seem incapable of putting themselves in the prospective candidate’s shoes. You just need to look at 90% of job ads for evidence of this.


The kinds of hiring managers and HR folk who, when asked why someone would quit their job and work for them, take-on the facial expression of a dog that’s just been shown a card trick.


They struggle to see that genuinely talented people don’t often look to make a sideways move into a company they don’t know, unless the money on offer is obscenely high, their current employer is in some kind of trouble or the new employer genuinely offers better learning opportunities.


The primary exception is when someone has been made, or is under the threat of, redundancy. Then, all that person wants to do is maintain their lifestyle by getting another job as similar to the last one as possible.


However, recruiters have a tendency to think that anyone who’s been made redundant is somehow inferior to someone who’s in a job. That them being made redundant is somehow a reflection of their ability, which as we all know deep down, often isn't true.


The world is littered with “star performers” at one company who become at best average performers at their next company. Or to borrow a phrase from my friend Marcus Cauchi; candidates who act like James Bond at the interview and Mr Bean when they start work.


In my experience, the people that do tend to become star performers are those for whom the new job represents some kind of logical career progression – or a change of direction.


These people tend to work harder because they’ve got something to prove.


And, believe it or not, people who work harder have a habit of becoming star performers. I know, go figure.


But, the problem with these types of candidates is they’re tougher to source because they’re often doing different jobs with different job titles.


If companies ever stop believing the bullshit that “talent” is defined as someone already currently doing the same job, then the 3rd party recruitment industry would have to have a serious rethink about the kind of “talent” they themselves employ to work for them.


Because then, recruiters would have to start getting good at candidate assessment and less good at keyword bombing.


And that would be one long hard road for some – especially those who have yet to work out who they are, let alone who anyone else is.


So there we have it.




A word more abused than a Mexican at a Trump rally.


Mitch Sullivan Find out more about Mitch Sullivan by visiting his LinkedIn profile




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