Are you Recruiting for Talent or Perseverance?

Posted in : HR Updates on 3 April 2013
Angela Schettino
Think People Consulting
Issues covered:

Angela Schettino writes:

Things in recruitment are finally getting a little bit exciting. So challenging is the recruitment market that we are hearing about the innovative ways some bright sparks are using to get employers attention, for example, Adam Pacitti, the 24 year old first class graduate who put his credentials on a billboard in London, generating thousands of calls from prospective employers.

But what of we employers? Are we getting any better at recruitment?

Unemployment is still very high, however employers complain that they are missing the key talent and capability so needed in new recruits. Recruitment agencies have available to them a greater variety of means to source that talent, from the old fashioned cold call to the plethora of diverse online and social media available to attract talent on the market. Once a number of candidates are lined up... are we facing them with the same old recruitment hurdles? Are we recruiting for talent or perseverance?

The fact is however that top talent never stays on the market for long. Most of us know this, but what are we doing with our recruitment processes? For many employers in Northern Ireland and the UK as a whole, these remain unchanged.

Think about your process. Has it been reviewed? Is it any less burdensome or bureaucratic? We look for innovators, yet what are we doing to innovate our recruiting processes?

What we often see is a form of 'corporate recruiting' that assumes that the best-qualified candidate for a job is the one willing to jump and dodge the most hurdles to get the job. What we get is the person who is more likely to be the most compliant, rather than the most innovative or talented. In effect ‘The Last Candidate Standing’.

Business week recently listed its top ways that recruiting processes conspire to keep great people out while pulling in docile and compliant candidates. We suggest most employers are guilty of some if not all of these...

  • Fail to include information about mission and values in promoting the post. Compose bland job descriptions that list all the tasks the new hire will perform, plus the long list of qualifications the ideal candidate must possess.
  • Write a job description that insults the reader from the start, using such language as: “Only applicants with “X, Y and Z” will be considered. Make sure the tone is such that readers know they will be lucky to get a reply.
  • Send interested applicants to a horrendously slow-moving and tedious recruiting website and require them to spend two hours or so filling out forms and uploading documents.
  • Throw in screening tests and extra requirements at candidates throughout the process, just to keep them guessing.
  • Take weeks or months to get back to people to schedule job interviews. At the interviews, keep them waiting, ask them predictable questions like “What is your greatest weakness?” and get offended when they inquire about the actual state of the team and the company.
  • Finally, leave candidates in the dark while you prepare the minimum possible remuneration offers, and then send the offers via e-mail with a message that says “We must receive your acceptance within 12 hours”.

Many of us have slipped into very generic recruitment processes, partly due to the concern about the need to meet equality legislation and follow consistently rigid procedures. We argue that as long as we cast a wide enough net and consider all applicants equally, we can be much more successful in sourcing movers and shakers by using a little imagination.

Here are some suggested tips from a variety of employers...

Chase the ‘Un-recruitable’

Actively seeking out candidates that are deemed ‘out of your league’ can prove worthwhile. Find out who is extremely happy in their current job, well-compensated, and has no reason or time to consider his / her position. Although counter intuitive, it can produce excellent results. The rising star who is disinterested today may become a motivated candidate next week.


Recruitment is partly about being prepared to get out and meet people who might be suitable for the company in the future. Get to know them. Coffees and lunches can be as good as any interview process and can lead to strong bonds when the timing is right.

Recruit for Attitude and Values / Train for Skills

Consider whether there is an immediate need for certain skills. If the skills can be trained, consider the attitudes and values which a person will need to work well for you. Be honest about these in your promotion of the post and build recruitment process around testing for these.

Make Sure the team likes the Candidate

Fit is not to be underestimated. More companies now build in some sort of social event towards the end of a recruitment process where candidates get to meet and mingle with prospective team members. Essentially this is a sort of likability test. This is often called ‘fit’ and can be built into a selection process using measures of cultural fit to the organisation. Essentially if a candidate is not likeable there may be an issue with cultural fit which often leads to issues down the line.

Target Recruitment Ads to Your Top Fans

The best people (most loyal, innovative and committed) are often the ones who have already shown an affinity for your brand. Utilizing the Facebook ads filtering mechanism, one employer was able to allow vacant posts to be seen only by fans of their site. This technique has been called “Social Talent Acquisition,”. Another means of doing this is to limit promotion of your vacancies to publications which are read by people who already work in the industry or would have a special interest in your work or brand. Checks for affinity to your brand can also be built into the recruitment process.

Require some Homework

If you want to know how a candidate will perform, ask them to do a little homework. From this assignment you will identify who are the passionate candidates, and who has really been thinking about the job they’ll need to perform. You’ll be able to weed out a quite a number of candidates since many simply won’t do the assignment or give you an excuse why they can’t do it.

Host a Contest

You could jump through all the hoops of the traditional recruitment process, or you can make candidates fight for the position by holding a contest. Some employers of young talent are asking potential recruits to participate in Youtube contests to show why they would be the best candidate. Some Marketing recruiters say this is hands down the best method they have used to select talent so far and is cheaper than a traditional assessment centre.

This article is correct at 04/11/2015

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Angela Schettino
Think People Consulting

The main content of this article was provided by Angela Schettino. Contact telephone number is 028 9031 0450 or email

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