Recently a great recruiter I know called in total frustration with one of his HMs. John was working on a req for which there were very few interested candidates. He had finally found a great one, and was blown away with his HM’s response. She was declining the as-perfect-as-we-going-to-get candidate because they are missing something not even on the requirements list—a college degree.
Sometimes these kinds of objections come at us from left field, and there would be no way to predict the HM would respond this way. And on the surface they don’t seem to make any sense, just as this one doesn’t. How can the HM turn candidates down when they don’t have something that wasn’t even required in the first place? Aughhh!
In these situations, we are probably tempted, as John was, to point out to the HM that what they are supposedly looking for wasn’t required in the first place. He was eloquent in pointing out how difficult it is to find candidates for the position, how lucky the HM is to have this candidate, etc.
That approach probably won’t move your HM from their position even a little bit. Just telling them what they probably already know isn’t new information and isn’t compelling enough to change their mind. In fact, if all you’re going to do is one of these party-line type of conversation, don’t bother. It will feel like push-back to your HM and when people push at us, it’s human nature to push back, even if ever so slightly.
Try this approach instead:
- Ask questions to understand what is really motivating your HM to take such a position. You cannot deal with a situation until you understand it. And reciting that what they are looking for isn’t required doesn’t help you understand anything.
- After #1, if the HM hasn’t come to the conclusion that this really isn’t important, ask if this will now be a requirement. If it wasn’t a requirement until now, it’s possible the HM just didn’t realize how important it was to them. So we have to be careful not to “cope an attitude” about this addition—though I totally understand the temptation! But it is appropriate to talk about what you’ve been seeing in the marketplace, and how adding this requirement will impact the search.
- Now that the HM has seen a couple of resumes, are there other changes to the requirements that they think would make sense? Are there other things that would be nice to have but not requirements? Ask more questions to see if there are other things the HM hasn’t shared with you yet.
If you do this as a conversation of exploration and sharing what you know about the candidate pool, it will help the HM come to a decision that you can count on. And you got to it and improved your consultative image at the same time.
So as John goes back to have the conversation outlined above, he knows that no matter what she decides, he will have strengthened their relationship and her perception of him as a business partner. Plus there is a much stronger chance he’ll get his candidate accepted.
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