Why the idea of the “perfect candidate” is costing your business money!

Posted 16/11/2021 by Benet Hanley

I see it all the time, the gap between what the candidate market expects and what employers expect. It is a constant cause of missed opportunity.

I also can see how it happens, I can close my eyes and imagine a hiring manager sitting in his or her chair and writing out a job description. First off, they visualise someone they know doing the job which is the first point for unconscious bias to filter in. Within the deep tech industry usually it is a man that is doing that job or is visualised as doing the job as often in society we are programmed to see men as the engineers and the figures confirm that with women only making up 14.5% of engineers.

We also assume or expect that the ideal candidate will be someone local, working at a similar company, doing the same job for them but for some reason being attracted to do that job at our company.

Then the skills, the ideal candidate will have all the skills required and will require no training or development to take on the job. In fact, we believe they are likely to be so good that they will be adding skills and knowledge to the team.

Now the challenge is that this is a very good well-balanced and hard-working team, so we don’t want to imbalance it by bringing in a new employee that maybe does not fit socially or culturally. Consequently, we then subconsciously set up barriers to a whole range of personalities and people who are just “not quite like us”.

The result is that the job description and candidate brief become an almost impossible role to fill. Strong candidates are rejected because they only match 85% of the brief.

There is also a real cost to your businesses having unfilled vacancies and we often see a slow process of realisation after months of interviewing and rejecting candidates, “urgency” (not desperation) sets in and it’s at this point that hiring managers reset their expectations and open up to a strong candidate as opposed to the perfect match.

My point is that if this had been the starting position a strong capable but not perfect candidate may have been hired months ago. They could be fully up to speed by now and delivering, which means the existing team members would be less pressured and your delivery targets are more likely to be being met.

Not enough time is spent after picturing the ideal candidate to understand what an acceptable and strong candidate looks like that could do the job well. Who’s available in the marketplace. Who in your team could step up into the role? How far may they develop in a short period of time and quickly grow to being an asset to the business/team?

The most recent November RBS jobs report produced by IHS Markit in conjunction with the Recruitment Employment Confederation showed some trends that employers must react to now. Permanent vacancies rose at near-record pace in October but the growth in placements is slowing. This is because the availability of staff has dropped at near-record pace and with this the pressure on salaries has risen by close to record levels

The perfect candidate rarely exists and while you spend time chasing the unicorn your team and business are being held back. The price of that perfect candidate may be alarming as well.

In a candidate short market where there is less access to international talent following Brexit, recruitment has become an even greater challenge for employers. Employers and hiring managers must realise that their ideal expectations are unlikely to be met. There needs to be an acceptance and understanding of what can be hired and an eagerness to snap up strong candidates quickly.

Here is how Enigma People Solutions has helped our clients recruit leading technologists.  

Enigma People Solutions is an award-winning technology recruitment consultancy. We find technical leaders for the emerging and enabling technology industries. Visit our job search page for the latest vacancies in photonics, electronics, semiconductor, software and IoT in Scotland and the UK. Check out our blog page for the latest in the technology industry. You can get in touch with us hello@enigmapeople.com or call us on + 44 131 510 8150

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