Don’t Let the Skills Gap Cloud Your Judgement

In the fast-paced world of staffing, an agency doesn’t make a dime until it staffs a position. Finding the right person for the job, however, is often easier said than done. And it’s getting even harder: thanks to unemployment rates falling to their lowest point in years, fewer qualified candidates are on the job market.

The practice of “selling” jobs to candidates has been around for a while and certainly isn’t anything new in the staffing industry. Recruiters who do this try to “sell” a job to a candidate who—on paper—meets most of the minimum requirements (as they pertain to skill set) but in actuality may not be the best fit for the job.

During the 1990s this practice fell out of favor and developed a bad reputation, mostly because it’s not the best way to match a candidate to a position. With the recession firmly behind us now and top talent becoming scarcer, some recruiters are turning once again to this technique in an effort to fill open positions from a fairly small pool of possibilities.

The problem with following this trend, though, is anyone who does so runs the risk of communicating to clients and candidates alike that making any placement as quickly as possible is better than finding the best fit for both parties.

Over the past several years, the staffing industry has made great strides toward becoming a true business partner with its clients. But that progress can all be undone in short order if the focus returns to making a quick buck rather than making decisions that are in the clients’ best interest. Great recruiters and staffers know that they are successful only if their clients are successful—and put all their effort into working toward that mutual success.

So stay away from the “quick buck” approach, because it will only cause you problems in the long run. The next time you have an open requisition, keep in mind the following considerations when evaluating candidates.

It’s really not all about the money. Take the time to make sure that your client’s needs align with your candidate’s qualifications and interests. Different groups prioritize different things. Millennials, for example, often value organizations that have a great company culture and provide exceptional work/life balance. Generation Xers, on the other hand, may be busy raising their families and therefore highly value a flexible work schedule. And baby boomers, realizing that they may have to work longer than they had planned, may consider stability and retirement benefits most important.

Make sure the family is on board. Once you and a candidate agree that he or she is a good fit for a particularly position, don’t hire that person on the spot. Instead, encourage the candidate to go home and first discuss the opportunity with his or her family. For example, a one-hour commute might not look too bad to your candidate at first, but he or she may have a completely different perspective after a family discussion that examines how such a commute could affect the whole family.

How does a candidate fit with your client’s culture? As I noted above, millennials have a reputation for placing a lot of weight on company culture when deciding whether to accept a job. But the reality is that when any candidate—regardless of what generation he or she belongs to—doesn’t fit with your client’s culture, that particular employer-employee relationship will be short lived. So before making any placement offer, try to gauge what type of culture your candidate thrives in (by asking questions such as “Tell me about the worst company culture you worked in,” for example).

Before you present a candidate to your client, make sure that he or she is actually suitable—a good fit, not just a fit—for the role. Putting the time and effort into doing this up front not only increases the likelihood for a successful placement but also increases the likelihood for a successful long-term relationship with your client.


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