Tags: HR, hr, Recruitment Advice...

Much like in the amusing and unpredictable realm of internet dating, it can be tricky for employers and job-seekers to find their perfect match!

Enter recruitment consultants – the middle-persons between candidates and prospective employers, and ultimately the match-makers of the job market. Search experts in recruitment match-making - Vicky Howard, Principal Consultant for Accountancy & Finance, and Wayne Costello, Divisional Manager for HR Systems – walk us through their process of finding the perfect match for their clients.

Digging deep to find compatibility beyond competency

To make a good match in recruitment, you need to understand what the role entails, how the employer operates, and what the job offers in terms of salary, prospects and benefits. Equally as important is the need to find out what the candidate’s aspirations and expectations are. Wayne believes that compatibility between candidate and client can be deeper than the surface of professional competencies meeting the criteria of an employer. “Although a candidate may tick all the boxes in terms of having the ability to do the job well, they may not be a cultural fit for the role in terms of personality and work environment,” he cautions.

As such, he advises recruiters to dig deep in order to ensure that a candidate is a good cultural fit for an employer, drawing on one of his personal experiences as an example, “I once recruited a Cobol Developer for a distillery in Speyside. The job entailed sitting in a room on their own that had no windows! Although I was initially unsure of what kind of person to search for, I ended up placing a lady who had a very busy life as a working Mum and actually appreciated the peace and quiet!”

The expectations of the client and the candidate must be compatible – and that is particularly important when it comes to skills and qualifications. It’s just as unprofessional to put a candidate forward who is overqualified as it is to camouflage the fact they lack the necessary qualifications.

The need to thoroughly gather information on candidates and clients

The act of gathering information on a candidate’s competencies should be done so with accuracy and precision. Wayne is a firm believer of keeping things simple by doing an analysis based on 3 targeted questions:

  1. Do they have the right professional experience?

  2. Do they have the communication skills required by the client?

  3. Are they showing the right level of commitment to securing the role?

However, recruitment consultants do not always have the opportunity to meet and profile candidates on a face-to-face basis, in which case asking the right preliminary questions and listening with attention is essential to talent assessment. “The roles I recruit for are often quite corporate and have customer-centric responsibilities. So when I talk to a candidate over the phone, I imagine how they would cope when running a Workshop with queries from challenging stakeholders with a firm corporate background, and this helps me get an idea of whether or not they would be credible and competent for the role,” Wayne observes.

Much like with love, it takes two to tango in recruitment. For this reason, Vicky emphasises the importance of researching a client as well as a candidate. “Before you attempt to find the right candidate, it’s crucial to understand the culture of your clients. You should aim to lay the groundwork by setting up a meeting at the employer’s office so that you can thoroughly assess the environment and determine who will be compatible for their organisation in terms of skills and personality. Once you understand the culture and requirements of your client, you can then identify who will be a suitable candidate,” she advises.

Preparing your candidate for an interview

Although a candidate may be highly skilled and competent in the role which they have applied for, nerves, a narrow knowledge of the organisation and other behavioural quirks could cost them the opportunity. “Much like match-makers, it is my job as a recruitment consultant to ensure that candidates put their best foot forward during the interview process, showcasing the elements of their personalities and expertise that will stand out to employers, and increase their chance of securing the role,” Vicky observes.

It makes sense to give the candidate in-depth information about the client company – its size, turnover, business goals and culture. Providing other details, such as how they should best present themselves for the interview and whether it will be one-to-one or with a panel are also helpful. “In an interview, first impressions matter, and it’s not enough for a candidate to just be highly skilled on paper,” Vicky notes. “After providing the most thorough information on the organisation, I encourage my candidates to do their own research, as clients are significantly more impressed when prospective employees invest time and effort towards learning about their organisations. “

Vicky observes that asking questions should be a two-way street, and that a candidate will significantly increase their chances of securing a role by demonstrating interest and commitment through asking questions. “Before they enter their first direct interview with the client, I encourage my candidates to formulate and articulate intuitive, thought-provoking questions about the role in relation to the structure of the company they are applying to, because this practice ultimately shows enthusiasm and dedication to learning as much about the company as possible,” she says.

Alternatively, Wayne cautions that a fine line must be drawn between confidence and arrogance, saying, “Even in a candidate-driven market, many employers will often look to establish some authority in the interview process and will look for the candidate to demonstrate some humility, respect and desire to work for them. This final bit can be tricky because often a very strong candidate will expect to be ‘sold to’ at the interview because they know that they have their pick of the litter in terms of prospective employers. For these reasons, I often have to prep my candidates about positioning themselves as confident in their ability, but not too arrogant in their approach.”

Personal relationships involve compromise - so does recruitment

As the recruiter, you have a more objective view, therefore you may encounter situations where you might have to side-step your client’s or candidate’s wishes and broker a compromise. It might be clear that the match is perfect, but if the salary is a sticking point, you’ll need to dust off your best negotiation skills to get both sides to reach a compromise and seal the appointment.

“After being informed about what the role will entail, it’s common for candidates to have hesitations about whether or not it meet their expectations. In these occasions, I encourage the candidate to give the client a chance by speaking to them and then making an informed decision thereafter,” says Wayne. He goes on to acknowledge that this approach has proven successful, saying, “ In many cases, I have found that a candidate’s pre-conceived ideas about a role or a new potential employer usually melt away in the face of good personal rapport established with an interviewer.”

In negotiating compromises, Vicky is a firm believer in selling the best qualities of a company to candidates who may be hesitant. “I recently placed a candidate who was unsure about the opportunity because my client was new to the city and not very established locally. Having already interviewed my candidate and knowing my client, I drew attention to how the organisation is internationally acclaimed and appreciates the importance of investing in people to attract and retain the best talent. I was then able to enthuse my candidate on the opportunity for career development, and my client walked them through how this would be achieved.”

In closing, while it may not be possible to match candidates to the job they want, it is possible to match them to a job that will bring them professional fulfillment in the long run.

About our Contributors

Vicky Howard

Vicky has been recruiting into Shared Service Centres for over 12 years and is recognised as a true specialist in her field. This extensive experience has enabled her to develop an unrivaled knowledge of her market, as well as the culture, systems and processes of her clients. Her firm understanding of how to position and positively promote brand and culture drives her to consistently deliver service excellence to both clients and candidates. 

Wayne Costello

Wayne is a highly experienced recruitment specialist with a strong interest in the SaaS HR Systems market and technology enabled HR Transformation. He has a network of Functional, Technical and Project specialists who can assist across the full lifecycle of SaaS HR Systems implementations and into Support.

We want you on our team

Are you an experienced recruiter looking for your next role within the industry? Search Consultancy is a nationwide recruitment agency that offers a wide range of jobs from a variety of specialist industry sectors. If you feel you would be an ideal addition to our team, please do not hesitate to contact our internal recruitment manager, Peter Barry by email – [email protected] Take a look at our recruitment consultant jobs that we have on offer here.