Addressing Scarcity by Empowering Recruiters

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Jun 21, 2021

I often think of scarcity in terms of goods available. If you live in Indianapolis and you need a new swimsuit in September…best wishes. However, if you need one in March, no worries; Spring Break prep is in full swing and you’ll have plenty of options. You could shop online at any time of year and have plenty of choices. While you’re at Target or Macy’s in September, though, you’ll likely encounter an extreme scarcity of options..

This is true in recruiting, too. If you’re sourcing for an audio engineer in New Orleans, you’ll have a plethora of talent readily available. That same requirement in Vail, Colo., may feel much more scarce. It is then the role of the recruiter to work with the hiring team to determine the best when, where, what, and how to ensure a successful search that doesn’t consistently lead to a desert of talent. 

Recruiters must take the lead to make sure that the talent pools they’re building and managing will meet the needs of the business. What’s more, because many organizations place entry-level professionals in corporate recruiting roles and don’t train or empower them to lead dialogue with hiring teams in relation to talent pools, the roles for which they recruit can remain open too long and become a source of frustration for all involved.

One way to create success is for the recruiter to lead an intake meeting at the start of a search, and again if the role remains open without viable activity. Elements of this meeting should include:

  • Selection criteria, distinguishing musts from nice-to-haves (ranking works best)
  • Location and relocation possibilities
  • Type of work to be performed
  • Success criteria within the role
  • Training and career-path options
  • Compensation and other benefits

As this list is created through a discussion with the hiring team, it’s important that the recruiter is prepared to relay market research and knowledge of similar positions to ensure that the ideal candidate is likely to be available in the marketplace. This includes ensuring that the ideal profile doesn’t inadvertently create bias within the candidate pool. 

For example, if the team is requiring a specific degree or certification that doesn’t significantly differentiate the ability of the future candidate to meet the success criteria, bias may be created for candidates with better access to higher education. When an example like this is combined with a geographic preference, it can create additional bias and dilute the available candidate pool to a more scarce set of criteria — the proverbial purple unicorn.

One way to empower recruiters to lead these discussions is to include them from the very start when crafting job descriptions. Another is to have hiring managers join recruiters to do regular resume reviews together, which can help identify bias by pointing out the positives and negatives seen on each resume. 

Recruiters can often gain a lot of credibility with a newly assigned hiring manager by serving as an advisor throughout the process rather than a facilitator of candidate flow. Being an advisor means that the recruiter will make recommendations to ensure access to the best talent and to seek pools of talent that may be viable alternatives to the criteria initially discussed. Recruiters can often challenge hiring managers with questions like: Could you consider another location or remote work for places with a more dense population within the skillset? Could you consider foregoing a degree for someone with transferable skills? 

There are almost always options to develop a short- and long-term pipeline of talent for the teams you want to build. However, the path is not always defined up front and will require partnership and communication between parties to find success.

 Back to swimwear. If you couldn’t find a swimsuit locally, would you postpone your September trip to the spring? No. In the same way, why would you leave your position open and run the risk of burnout of the existing team members? In both cases, there are choices to consider and alternatives to solve the challenge. Recruiters can and should lead the dialogue to find solutions and become talent advisors within their organizations.

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