I want to share a story with you. It’s about a particular pain in the backside who has caused me no end of problems lately. Here goes.
As you might have guessed, this story is about a candidate. I’d been working with ‘X’ for several weeks; we’d covered what salary he was on; what he was looking for; his ideal role and overall motivations. His type of profile is extremely sought after in my industry, so naturally he’d won numerous interviews, one being with my best client. He’d made it right to the final stage, and when offered the role, decided he wanted more money than we’d discussed. Why? He’d cottoned onto the fact it’s a candidate-driven market, and thought he’d milk it for more money, and vie for an unrealistic pay rise. Needless to say, placement lost.
Dealing with divas
Many recruiters operate in an entirely candidate-driven market as I do; a market where a shortage of quality people means, instead of dealing with Fred the mild-mannered Sprocket Noodler from Garstang, you find yourself dealing with Maria Carey-inspired candidates, demanding every outrageous thing on the rider (white linen overalls and a fur-lined tool bag, please).
Candidate-lead markets can be great to work in (find someone remotely competent and it’s a probable placement). They can also be a complete nightmare, as salary expectations hit the roof and demands for bigger and better packages spiral out of control.
Supply and demand is a phrase used in many circles, yet it’ll never be more apt than when talking about recruitment markets. Clients will be desperate for Fred to join them, either because of a genuine need for his services, or the knowledge that quality candidates are hard to come by, so better get in early. When clients go above and beyond to secure candidates, it can have a knock-on effect on the existing candidate-market (the thought process: “well if Fred is worth that much, so am I”). This trend can even force clients to re-think their recruitment strategies and possibly suspend recruitment to look at other options, such as graduates or even training school leavers.
It’s this we want to avoid – we want our clients to hire, not be burned by candidates who think they can call all the shots. So then, what’s the secret to recruiting in a candidate-driven market?
Managing salary expectations
Being able to manage a candidate’s salary expectations is one of the harder aspects of recruiting. Let’s face it; the better the package they get, the bigger your fee will be. Knowing your clients’ limitations (salary, vehicle & package) is paramount in finding a solution that satisfies both parties. Asking the right questions to both client and candidate is an absolute must-do. Armed with the right information allows you to temper old Fred’s expectations (no, Fred, gold-plated spanners aren’t on offer), yet still sell the job to him (guess what Fred, you’ll still be working in Garstang and the salary is £3k higher than what you are on now). Your client will be happy in the knowledge they are getting the guy they want, at a salary they can afford, thanks to you having already schooled Fred about salaries and other opportunities in his new role; i.e. he’ll finally get that Widget training his current firm has been promising for two years, as well as being sent on a course to learn the fine art of fettling. Everybody’s happy.
In short, although dealing with divas can be stressful, if you can manage the expectations from the start, it will make your job a hell of a lot easier. You’ll also make your clients love you even more than they do already (if that’s possible).
*Sprocket Noodles should be real but are not
*Widgets are a thing, usually in the bottom of a can of Guinness or some such
*Fettling is a dying art still practiced in the Lancashire and Yorkshire Countryside
*Garstang is a place in Lancashire… I once walked into a pub there; the music stopped and everyone stared at me like they do in the Old West
About the author: Paul Murphy has been working for SER Limited in Engineering Recruitment for over 11 years specializing in the intelligent buildings sector – especially BMS (Building Management Systems). He is also it seems a part-time keyboard warrior on behalf of recruiters everywhere.