Headhunted Candidates are NOT Applicants. Here’s why.

Headhunted Candidates are NOT Applicants. Here’s why.

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OK, so full transparency, I started writing this post months ago. But then COVID-19 happened, and I got distracted by other priorities. That being said, given what’s happened to the Canadian hiring market and, more specifically, what clients perceive has happened to the hiring market, this topic feels more relevant than ever. 

Here at Venor, we focus on building authentic relationships with both our clients and candidates. We do that by giving our clients real market data, even if those insights reveal they only need our services for some roles but not others. Atlantic Canada is a relatively small and insular employment ecosystem. One we know very well because we invest the time it takes to identify and cultivate the elite talent within it. That means learning what makes each potential candidate tick, sensing what sort of roles will resonate, and understanding their expectations. Doing this takes a whole lot of time and even more energy. But it’s essential.

Why? Because, now more than ever, relationships matter. I know which candidates will take a call from me about an opportunity they would otherwise dismiss. That sense of trust is why our team can get the ‘Top 5%’ so many of our clients clamour for. And it’s also why employers need to ensure their candidate experience is top-notch. Keeping the following three things in mind can help you do just that.

  1. A headhunted candidate isn’t looking for a new job.

When you, as an employer, hang out your shingle and encourage candidates to apply to you directly, you’re essentially saying, “This is our hiring process. By applying, you’re saying you’re interested and agreeing to adhere to it. We can’t give you any information on when we want to interview, which stakeholders will be involved or what the culture and remuneration look like just yet, but if we think you’re a strong candidate, we’ll gladly give you more info later on down the line.”

Conversely, when I’m reaching out to top talent, they’re often highly discerning about new opportunities. They often have no shortage of options and may have made a move or two in the past that has made them skeptical about just how green the grass is elsewhere. It’s my job to sell them on your opportunity. If I believe there’s a fit there, I tell them your story in a way that resonates with their values. I take the time to answer questions about things like your company’s vision, how the role plays into that vision, what they can expect in terms of compensation, work-life balance, career advancement, and so on. I also flag what potential challenges they can expect, temper expectations for a long-term fit and, ultimately, do my very best to leave them psyched at the end of it all.

Basically, I take a passive job seeker and make them an enthusiastic one. Then I hand them over to you.

  1. Having a great candidate experience is everything.

What do I mean by ‘candidate experience’? I mean how a candidate feels about your company once they experience your hiring process. Effective hiring processes understand the importance of creating positive candidate experiences and building authentic relationships with people, not skimming resumes.

If a successful marriage is going to occur, there has to be some compromise on both sides. You can’t expect potential candidates to wait weeks for engagement—they’ll have mentally checked out by them. You probably shouldn’t expect them to take a technical test or complete other exercises before you meet them either. Quality hires need more first-hand information before they’re willing to invest the time. While it’s true they need to show you they have the required skills and are genuinely interested, there needs to be mutual courtship at this time. If your tone is transactional, slow-moving or disorganized, your modest chances of obtaining their talents go down. Fast.

That being said, we’re in the middle of a pandemic, so you may be dealing with limited resources. No problem. Just tell your recruiter so they can keep these valuable leads warm on your behalf.

  1. COVID-19 has not made attracting top talent any easier 

If you think this pandemic has led to an abundance of top talent or that you have additional luxuries in scrutinizing and timing, you’re mistaken. If anything, COVID-19 has made recruiting harder. Today’s candidates are more appreciative of what they have, more reluctant to embrace risk, and less tolerant of being under-appreciated. Plus, if you give elite talent a poor recruiting experience (especially in a market as small as ours), you’re potentially undermining any future hiring efforts.

As a company, you’re investing in our services because you recognize the challenges in securing this type of talent. So, trust that the Venor team has your best interests in mind when we advise you to give extra consideration to an elusive profile.

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