It’s no challenge to place a “great candidate” – you know the typ: the right education, the right career history, cookie cutter objective, perfect fit. But what about a “great candidate” who doesn’t tick the conventional boxes but you know could deliver on the job?
The biggest leap story we heard was from a nationwide recruiter who said one of her most satisfying placements was rebranding a vicar as a sales executive. He successfully made the transition and was able to use his transferable skills in a completely different environment – perhaps an extreme example of flexibility and adaption to change. We’d love to hear your stories of similar...so jot down your comments in the box below.
But to return to the question that increasingly arises for recruiters of what to do with people who are a ‘round’ candidate for a ‘square’ position. Naturally this places recruiters in a dilemma. Recruiters want to make the placement and win the fee, so they have a natural incentive to place the best fit conventional candidate. But often there are stronger candidates, with a more unconventional background who represent a potential boon to the client if they can be “sold” in the right way. And there are recruiters who identify with the human aspect of the story – faced with a candidate who wants a chance to shine in a different setting – recruiters want to facilitate the candidate achieving that goal.
So if you’re presented with a great candidate who doesn’t fit the standard mould, what’s the best way to proceed?
1: Communication with the candidate
We always recommend open lines of communication with the candidate. By having the discussion with them of the discrepancies between their own profile and standard candidates for the jobs they want to go for, you can perhaps stumble upon ways to close the gap.
2: Recommendations for the candidate
Candidates may be unaware of skills training opportunities that would bridge their knowledge gap. The candidate may indulge in extra curricular activities, such as volunteering with a charity, that they can use to demonstrate skills or experience that is missing from their career history and thus provide stronger evidence of suitability for a role. They may decide to address their unorthodox route head on with an explanatory line in their Personal Statement on their CV or in their covering letter.
3: Communication with the client
Often clients haven’t taken the time to prioritise their real needs in a role and have generated a standard person specification. The recruiter is well position to provide an opportunity for the client to assess whether they would prefer to hire on attitude or on skill. Presenting a client who is motivated, driven and teachable might be a better fit for customer service role than a candidate who has the experience but lacks the motivation to achieve.
4: Think creatively
You, as the matchmaker between vacancies and individuals really hold the key here. By thinking creatively, consultants can prompt innovative hiring. The better the consultant knows the company and the culture, the more opportunity they have to think big and think how candidates skills could contribute to company growth and success. This can really embed your relationship with the client, they'll be impressed at your understanding of their business needs.
Why is this situation arising with increasing frequency? Well, the economic picture is probably one of the major contributors. With people having been laid off or facing redundancy they are open to a broader range of jobs than previously. Sometimes people are ready for a change of direction. The portfolio career is a phrase that has crept in to the recruiters dictionary. We know that a job for life is an increasing rarity, but now people move sectors and industries more and more frequently so these situations are becoming more common place. Good candidates present opportunities for consultants - learn how to cash in.