Before there were computers (gasp!), video games (not even Space Invaders), text messaging (people actually wrote letters), or cell phones (remember that avocado green wall phone with the loooong cord?), we had to get creative and make our own fun as children. I grew up “back in the day” on a family farm out in the middle of nowhere (Google Earth may never find it), and more than once, to combat some of the boredom of my early teen years, I’d invite some of my city dwelling friends out to the country for a Snipe Hunt.
As a veteran Snipe hunter, it was my job to give them some tools for the hunt (burlap bags and flashlights), and convince them to enter the dark woods to search for and capture a creature they’d never seen or heard of. Of course, <*spoiler alert*> my friends were never successful in capturing a Snipe – – because they don’t exist. The only goal of a Snipe hunt is to get your friends out on a dark night to scare them and make fun of them – which was never hard to do. (And where I lived, we were equal-opportunity Snipe hunters – girls were sent on Snipe hunts too.)
As a recruiter (internal or external), many aspects of the Snipe Hunt may sound oddly familiar. We’ve all had those times where, at some point in a search, we start to feel like we’re on a wild goose chase, and may begin to wonder if the “right candidate” even exists. In my experience, here are a few “red flags” to watch out for in the beginning that could mean that you’re about to embark on the recruiting equivalent of a Snipe hunt:
-The ideal candidate is described in extraordinary detail. In general, when the Job Requirements listed for a successful hire are longer than the Santa Wish List of an 8 year old – including things like certain degrees, specific industry or product experience, job experience no more than ___ and no less than ___ , you could be in trouble. If a client isn’t willing to consider candidates who have a demonstrated history of success, but don’t exactly match all of the requirements, you may end up searching for a creature that exists only in the mind of the hiring manager.
-Restricting where or how candidates can be sourced. Sometimes clients spend more time discussing where or how they don’t want candidates to be sourced than what they do want in a successful candidate. This can include things like dismissing candidates who are in between jobs (“passive” candidates are great, but there are many talented folks who are unemployed due to a variety of reasons), or requiring that no candidates be sourced from job postings, job boards, social networks, etc. (depending on the type of position, some of these tools can be very useful in a search). If you’re starting out, not being able to utilize all of the tools in your recruiting tool box, you may be missing an important tool that could help you to be successful in completing the search.
-A desire to hire only the best – with a salary range well below market. Sometimes, you can sell top candidates on making a move and taking a pay cut due to the company culture, future growth opportunities, etc. – but you’re usually starting from behind the line, if your low-paying client wants to attract top talent. “A” players typically won’t make a move for less, so it’s likely only some of the B & C folks will be interested. If the client only wants to talk to superstars – but doesn’t want to pay for them – you’re likely in for a frustrating experience.
Don’t want to spend your time on the recruiting equivalent of a Snipe hunt? Do your research before you meet with a client, so you can ask great questions, build credibility and trust, and get them talking about what the new hire needs to be able to successfully DO in the job. Once you’re able to consult with your client on the ideal candidate profile, provide your recommendations on how to approach the search, and advise them on what they may need to do to attract the talent they are seeking, you’ll be able to avoid the frustrations of an impossible search. That means you can leave the Snipe hunting to the less experienced recruiters who charged off on the hunt without asking the right questions, or doing some research to find out if a Snipe actually exists.
Have you ever been sent out on a wild goose chase by a client or hiring manager? When did you realize you were searching for a candidate that didn’t exist?
Jennifer McClure is a Vice President at Centennial, Inc.,a Cincinnati-based recruitment and coaching firm, where she’s charged with strategic recruiting efforts, executive coaching and business development for the firm. Send her an uncustomized LinkedIn invite at your own peril…