Two Candidates + One Job = Two Different Outcomes

Recruiters have always headhunted (sidenote: I do not like this word, in general I think the type of people who use the phrase “headhunting” are the ones who are trying to sound more important than what they likely are). Any serious Recruiter engages in direct recruiting activity, it is part and parcel of the business it is not something unique.

With the uptake in Social Media the past 4-5 years, we have seen an increase in the number of Recruiters proactively reaching out to people about job opportunities. We have also seen this activity increase across all levels of hire, from help desk roles to C-Level Executives. While getting approached about a role can be a nice boost to a person’s ego, do not let it give you an inflated sense of entitlement. It is The way that people handle themselves during these calls and subsequent interviews will have a large impact on their potential to land that job.

Last week I spoke to two very different candidates, both about the same position and both with very different outcomes. Note: Both candidates had previously contacted me and expressed an interest in the opportunity.

On paper, Candidate #1 looked fantastic; they ticked many of the boxes that we were looking for. The person is working at global IT company and working in a similar role as the one we were hiring for but not in as senior as the role we had. This role would have been the perfect step to getting involved in more complex work for the person.

Candidate #2 had less polished IT experience, ticked some of the boxes we were looking for and on paper in comparison to Candidate #1 was not as close a fit as Candidate #1 was. It seemed like I was comparing apples and oranges. After speaking to both candidates it turns out I was comparing apples and oranges except the person better suited for our role was not the one I was expecting it would be.

The first candidate on paper looked great – they had the experience we were looking for and appeared to be just right for the role, but after talking to them, they gave me the impression that they thought the world owed them. The impression I was left with was that they did not equate success with hard work, they seemed more interested in “what is in it for me”. Rather than having a proper conversation with me, I was often cut off and asked to hurry it up when explaining our business, what we are doing, etc… . This person seemed more interested in the job title and money rather than think about ways to make the role successful.

Candidate #2 who had limited experience, made up for any perceived lack of experience and them some with a demonstrated motivation to succeed and do the things needed to make that happen. Candidate #2 made a great first impression, they did not seem afraid of hard work and demonstrated a “team player” attitude. In talking to them they kept me engaged, listened and asked thoughtful questions that made me think this is the type of person who creates their own luck and who would thrive in a place like Oracle.

Skills, capabilities, experience and a good resume can certainly get your foot in the door, but the wrong attitude or approach to work can close those opportunities just as easily. On the other hand, hard work, effort and a genuine work ethic may help open those doors that would otherwise be closed for you. A resume with all the credentials gets you in the front door but that is just the beginning of the process.

It is not how we start the race that is important, it’s how things end that matter most.

2 thoughts on “Two Candidates + One Job = Two Different Outcomes

  1. In other words, candidate #1 did not need you, as they already had a good job, and were trying to get to the meat of the issue. Are you sure you didn’t have the attitude yourself that they owed you their time and attention? They do have a job they’re being paid to do, and they’d be able to get back to it faster if you could just give them the relevant information about the offer and stop trying to extract a conversation out of them.
    In addition, if you’re going to write articles, you might want to run them past an editor first to correct the punctuation, capitalization, and overuse of management jargon.

  2. Hi GG,
    If this was my first contact with this particular candidate I would agree somewhat with your comment, however the candidate and I had spoken previously and they had signaled their interest in the role.
    One thing I always do when speaking with someone is first ask if it is a good time to talk – I realise that people are busy and not always able to speak.

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