Perhaps you’ve seen the television show Leverage, the one that starred Timothy Hutton. According to the all-knowing Internet Movie Database (IMDB), the show is about “a crew of high-tech crooks attempting to steal from wealthy criminals and corrupt businessmen.”
How were these crooks able to steal so effectively? They had leverage, of course.
Whenever there are dealings between human beings, leverage is a factor. Dictionary.com defines the word as the “power or ability to act or to influence people, events, decisions, etc.” When you have leverage, you can influence people and the decisions that they make. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?
But what does that have to do with the current employment marketplace and the recruiters who find themselves within it?
It has to do with this: top candidates are the people who hold the leverage in the current market. (That’s why it’s called a candidates’ market.) And since they hold the leverage, they have the ability to influence people and the decisions they make.
Which people, specifically? Hiring managers mostly. That’s because hiring managers don’t have much in the way of leverage in a market like the one we’re now experiencing.
So the question becomes this one: how did candidates acquire this leverage in the first place?
More options = more leverage
The answer to that question is a rather simple one. When a person has leverage, all it really means is that the person has options. “Options” could mean two options. Or it could be 10. The more viable options that a person has, the more leverage they have over their situation—and the other people who are in that situation with them.
By that same token, the person who has fewer options (or no options) therefore has less leverage (or none at all).
In this current market, who has more options—high-quality candidates or the employers that are attempting to hire them?
If you chose high-quality candidates, then pat yourself on the back. That’s the correct answer.
As we established in a previous blog post, there are three main rules regarding a candidates’ market. Those rules are as follows:
- All job seekers and candidates have more employment opportunities and professional options.
- The best job seekers and candidates have the most employment opportunities and professional options.
- The best job seekers and candidates have the best employment opportunities and professional options.
The key words here are “opportunities” and “options.” Top candidates have more of both, which give them more leverage. The best candidates in the marketplace could receive multiple offers from employers during their job search, maybe as many as three or four. This depends upon the quality of the candidate and the scarcity of talent within the respective industry and/or niche.
And multiple offers definitely means multiple options.
And then there’s the option that top candidates have of simply staying with their current employer. This option is made all the more attractive when their employer uses a counter-offer as a true retention tool. And when you have a multitude of options, you have the luxury—and the leverage—of choosing the one that you believe is the best.
Hiring managers and leverage
What about hiring managers? What are their options in this market?
If there is a hiring manager attempting to find and successfully recruit top candidates in an industry and/or niche where such candidates are scarce, their options could be much more limited. They are not likely to find top candidates who are unemployed. They are not likely to find top candidates who are even looking for a new job.
Instead, if such candidates do exist, the hiring manager must find them and recruit them. Lacking the ability to do that, they might consider promoting from within the organization to fill the position. However, that’s usually a stop-gap measure and not a long-term solution. (And then, of course, they could engage the services of a recruitment agency.)
So while top candidates have multiple options and have the luxury of choosing the best one, hiring managers have a lack of options and are often relegated to choosing the one that’s the least unlikable.
That’s the difference between having leverage and having little to none.
Make no mistake. Hiring success in this market is a matter of leverage. Top candidates have it, and they’re using it. Most recruiters already know this, but some hiring managers have failed to make the mental shift necessary to position themselves better.
Because outside of a tremendous shift in marketplace dynamics, hiring managers are not likely to regain their leverage anytime soon.