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Analyzing Companies Ongoing Quest for the Perfect Candidate

by | Jul 29, 2010 | Recruiter Training, Top Echelon Blog

Matt Deutsch

I’ve recently blogged about the fact that more companies are mandating that they’ll only consider employed job seekers for their open positions and that they’re using credit checks more frequently when deciding which job seekers to hire and which to not.

What these developments represent are clues as to what is currently going on in the marketplace, especially as it pertains to what hiring authorities are thinking.  Of course, what hiring authorities are thinking dictates what they do in terms of when they hire, why they hire, and who they hire.  While some of their behavior may not seem logical (see previous paragraph), why they’re engaging in that behavior is easier to understand once you realize the thinking and the reasoning behind it.

In order to do this, though, we have to look at events in the economy during the past two years.  Those events, by and large, have helped to shape the way in which hiring authorities are thinking—and by extension—how they’re taking action.  Below is a rough timeline of events, along with the reaction of companies to those events:

  • During the recession, companies cut staff.  They obviously weren’t looking to hire new employees.
  • In the immediate aftermath of the recession, companies still weren’t willing to hire new employees, at least not on a full-time basis.
  • Now that the economy is slowly improving and companies have an actual need to hire, they’re still reluctant to do so.
  • As a result, some hiring officials have made the decision—maybe even subconsciously—that if they are going to hire a new employee and add to their headcount, they’re only going to hire the “perfect candidate.”  (I used quotation marks because, of course, there are no perfect candidates.  But just try telling that to hiring officials.)  This is one of the reasons they keep asking to see one candidate after another after another after another . . .

So—in their quest to find the “perfect candidate,” companies are coming up with mandates like not considering job seekers who are unemployed and checking credit reports more frequently.  That would stand to reason, because the “perfect” candidate would be employed and would have a good credit report.  Are these arbitrary screening procedures, ones that could potentially hamper a company’s efforts to hire the best and brightest employees?  Sure . . . but when you’re trying to make sure you hire the mythical “perfect” candidate, these procedures seem sensible.  Unfortunately.

Now obviously, not every company and every hiring official sees things this way, but it appears as though an inordinate amount of them do.  If they’re going to hire somebody, then that somebody had better be “perfect” because that’s about the only way they can justify the expense of hiring the person.  (This is in stark contrast to the dot.com boom times of over a decade ago, when such stringent screening techniques wouldn’t have been thought of, much less implemented.)

How long will this continue?  Will companies conjure up even more tactics for screening out job seekers in their quest for the “holy grail candidate”?  Only time will tell, but if the recovery of the economy continues its slow and plodding pace, chances are good that other tactics will surface and be utilized widely by companies in a variety of industries.

Here’s the ironic part.  By implementing screening tactics designed to help find the “perfect” candidate, companies run the risk of overlooking good, quality job seekers who could become as close to the perfect employee as anybody . . . if they were just given the opportunity to do so.

What are you seeing in the marketplace right now?  Are your clients looking for the “perfect” candidate?  How much are they dragging their feet during the hiring process?  In your opinion, what’s the state of recruiting?

(Communications Coordinator Matt Deutsch is a writer for the Top Echelon Recruiter Training Blog.)

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