In Association with 'The Recruiter Index'

Written By Maria Titan

Dear client, you can’t have everything

The other day I received a call from a frantic client. The client had been struggling to fill a position, their employee had resigned and given two weeks’ notice which is standard practice in Cyprus. In those two weeks, Mr. Client had advertised on various platforms, received many CV’s (most of which were irrelevant) and had conducted several interviews. He felt that nobody was right for the role. The intention was to hire a person within the first week so that the current employee would have time to train and do a proper handover. Insert eye roll here. Seriously???? Yes, we are recruiters, and this is what we do for a living, however, it is now a candidate market and most people are currently employed. Few are idly sitting around and the people who are searching need to give notice to their employers so even if they are available to attend the interview and all goes well, they would need time to resign and work their notice period. This is assuming that they can attend the interview on day one and be made an immediate offer which by the way, never happens in recruitment.

We felt confident that we had the candidates and understood that the client needed to hire immediately but were concerned that the client had a very rigid idea of what he wanted with little room for outliers. We relayed our concerns and got to work. We advertised, interviewed and sent a small batch of quality candidates. The client wanted more. He acknowledged that the candidates were strong, but he wanted more to choose from. He was particularly impressed with two people; however, he wanted a comparison.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but after you have met five and are down to two, that sounds like a comparison to me. He didn’t want to reject either candidate, because, you know, just in case…. but both were currently attending other interviews and were becoming increasingly frustrated with the pace.

Mr. Client was getting increasingly stressed. The department was without an administrator and slowly descending into chaos.

The position was a junior administrative role. His ideal candidate would speak fluent Greek and English and have stellar IT skills. Experience in a corporate environment with invoicing duties was essential. All five candidates matched the description and the two that were shortlisted came with the character and soft skills he desired.

As a business owner I know that hiring the right person is what can make or break an office, recruitment is built on this belief. I also know that time is money and sometimes you need to decide, cross your fingers and hope for the best. Any new person, no matter how good, will need training and time to adjust to a new environment. I have an 80/20 rule. If the person matches eighty percent of the job description then it is up to you to train, assimilate and invest in the other twenty.

With close to two decades of recruitment experience, I have heard it all. The candidate is too old. What does this mean? Age brings a wealth of experience and having different demographics in your office leads to a balanced workforce with diverse skills. The candidate is overqualified yet within budget. Correct me if I’m wrong, would it not be wise to hire a person who can do their job and then some for the same amount as the less qualified candidate? The candidate didn’t have a firm handshake. What? Seriously. How many hands will this person have to shake in a day? Is this a good enough reason to disqualify a person who possesses every other skill on the job description? And my all-time favourite…drumroll… The candidate was perfect. But we want to see if there is anyone just as good, just in case. Just in case of what? It takes one person to do the job so you can count yourself very lucky that perfection happened to walk through your door, saving you endless time and money on average interviews.

I am disappointed to tell you that this story did not have a happy ending. Mr. Client wanted to see more people. The existing candidates accepted other offers and we decided to stop the search. Recruiters work on several positions with several clients and prioritise their search time. Working on a contingency basis, we spend money on advertising and time on searching and screening. We only get paid once a placement is made so if the search is never ending and the reasoning behind it is unclear, we move on. Although candidates do not pay fees, our reputation is important so when we keep them on hold with no feedback, the frustration increases, and they look elsewhere.

Whether you advertise and conduct your own interviews or choose to use a recruiter, the hiring process takes time and time is money. Having a rigid idea in your head of what the perfect candidate is with no room for differences leads to failure. Here’s the stone-cold truth, there is no perfect candidate and there is no perfect office, most of the time, 80/20 is good enough.