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December 17, 2017

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Candidate Control: The Key to Recruiting Success

Like any other professional service that deals with the public, recruiters continuously struggle with the issue of control. The same way doctors wrestle with "patient control" and lawyers boast about "client control," so recruiters agonize over "candidate control."

If you look at recruiting realistically, you'll recognize that you can no more "control" the actions of another person than you can control a speeding vehicle that's hydroplaning down the interstate at 70 miles an hour in a driving rainstorm. That is, the force of momentum will to a greater or lesser degree affect the direction your candidate takes, just like it will a 3,000-pound car.

The best you can hope for is that you've selected the right vehicle for the trip and that your preparation, training and reflexes will guide you safely towards your destination. Your degree of control, in other words, is relative to a variety of external factors, the most important of which is the candidate's true motivation for change.

Revealing the Source of Discontent

I've found that people experience dissatisfaction with their employment situation due to one or more of the following reasons:

  • Personal. The candidate's relationships with those at work are unfulfilling. Perhaps the peers and/or supervisors are incompatible with the candidate, or they have different goals. Or maybe there are vast differences in political, religious, socioeconomic or educational backgrounds. Or the overall corporate culture seems out of synch to the candidate, or the "feel" or "look" of the company's surroundings leaves something to be desired.

  • Professional. The candidate's ability to achieve career goals or technical fulfillment is stalled, or unattainable. As recruiters, it's on the professional aspects of a candidate's employment equation that we most often (and erroneously) focus our attention.

  • Situational. The candidate's dissatisfaction has nothing to do with the personal or professional aspects of the job; rather, the dissatisfaction is tied to circumstances. For example, the candidate's commuting distance might be intolerable, or the air quality or school system in the candidate's city might have deteriorated; or the candidate's spouse might have recently accepted a job in a different city.

The point is, there may be a hundred different value-related reasons behind a candidate's apparent discontent. As recruiters, it's our job to develop an awareness of the factors that motivate a candidate to explore his or her options---and to offer viable career solutions.

Unless you've pinpointed the precise motivation behind a candidate's interest in interviewing for another position, you'll have no leverage in the job-changing process. And worst of all---if the candidate has no real motivation for making a change---you'll find yourself as a mere facilitator in a tire-kicking exercise, in which your efforts will serve only to satisfy a candidate whose only interest is to extract a counteroffer.

At which point, you need to ask yourself: Who's really in control?

- Bill Radin, President
Innovative Consulting, Inc.
www.billradin.com