The Black Hole of Candidate Submittals

By Brian Hochhalter

Understanding the Problem

NASA defines a black hole as “a place in space where gravity pulls so much that even light cannot get out.”

When you enlist the help of an employment agency, have you ever wondered why your open position isn’t being filled more quickly? Does it seem like your search project is going nowhere, as if a black hole has sucked it away? What causes this black hole to open up? Often, when you are in the process of receiving candidate submittals from your recruiting firm, a lack of communication can be the problem.

Along with many recruiters, I’ve experienced the frustration of working on a staffing requisition where there is little or no feedback offered on the candidates that I submit. That frustration can lead recruiters to assume that the requirement is not urgent to the client. We often place these staffing requisitions on the back burner (the black hole of candidate submittals!) while we work on other orders where we have more specific information and a better chance of finding candidates who are a good fit.

Employers sometimes think, The recruiter has the job description, so what more do they need? I remember a client telling me, “If we are interested in a candidate, we will let you know.” That may sound like a reasonable proposition, but remember that we are dealing with people and a lot of variables. To me as a recruiter, learning why the client isn’t interested in a candidate who has been submitted is very important information.  Surprisingly enough, it’s also very important to you, the hiring manager!

Anyone who has been in the professional staffing industry for any length of time can tell you that recruiting is a process that includes both the client and the recruiter. As recruiters, we understand that you may not know exactly who or what you want until you see the candidates available in the field.

When you wrote your job description, you likely constructed an image of the “perfect” candidate. However, once you see the candidates available to you, you become aware that it’s often unrealistic to expect to actually find someone with ALL of the qualifications in a job description. Even if your recruiter can find an exact match of experience and qualifications, there is also the cultural fit to consider. Now we venture into the personality of the individual, which is not an exact science.This is why communication between client and recruiting manager is the key to locating and delivering the most qualified and best-suited person for the position. Based on feedback from you, your recruiter is able to modify their query, zero in on a solution, and better qualify candidates.

Solving the Problem

What can be done to improve the effectiveness of the candidate search? Let’s start with the job description. Prioritize your qualification list and differentiate between what are essential and what are desired experiences, skills or qualities to look for in an individual. Also, a laundry list of requirements is fine, but without a clear description of the everyday duties and expectations on the job, the candidate and recruiter are left guessing.

Next, describe the cultural environment in which they will be working (this might include the company vision as a whole and/or the make-up of the team with whom they’ll be working). What kind of personality traits would a successful candidate exhibit?

As the hiring manager, you may not even realize that you may be rejecting candidates based on criteria that have not even been communicated to the recruiter! Maybe you didn’t realize that you have a preference for candidates with experience working in large companies, rather than small companies or start-ups. Maybe it is the other way around! In order for your recruiter to present candidates you’ll think are a good fit, he or she needs to know that from the get-go…or reshape their search filter after getting your feedback from the first round of candidate submittals.

Finally, establish a means of communication between yourself and your recruiter. The recruiter should offer you a weekly summary of candidates submitted in a format where notes/comments can easily be recorded next to each candidate. If you carve out five or ten minutes each week to review candidates together over the phone, that can be even more effective in finding the best candidates in the timeframe you need.

As they say, “It’s not rocket science!” Although science tells us a black hole can take 10,100 years to dissolve, a few common-sense steps can open up good communication and smooth out the recruiting process in an instant.

Are you a good manager, or could you be frustrating your direct reports? Find out here.

Do you worry about making a hiring mistake because you don’t know how to ask the right interview questions? Since the best predictor of candidates’ future behavior is their past performance, behavioral interviewing is crucial to making a well-informed hiring decision. This coming May 29, 2014, join Scott Kuethen, Amtec’s CEO, in a free upcoming webinar that will cover this topic in depth. Your newfound knowledge will give you confidence to better conduct future interviews and make smarter hires!

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