SmartRecruiters Blog

The Key to Closing Interested Candidates

I hear the most outrageous garbage advice every day, and one of the latest bits is “The hiring manager doesn’t have to sell the job to job candidates. It’s the job candidate’s job to sell him- or herself to the hiring manager.”

Let’s deconstruct this idiotic statement. If a hiring manager has a flock of sheep dying to sell themselves to him in hopes of getting the job, what does that tell us? It tells us that our hiring engine is designed to attract people with low enough self-esteem that they don’t need to be sold.

They’re desperate. They’ll take anything. You’ve got an open position? Great. I want the job. I don’t need to know anything about your company. I just want to get hired!

We can feel compassion for these folks, but let’s not delude ourselves that the more desperate a job applicant, the better a hire s/he will be.

If you break down the typical corporate or institutional recruiting process, you see that in many ways our traditional recruiting systems reward compliance and docility, which is to say sheeplike behavior. We’re pleased when a job-seeker waits by the phone for weeks to hear back from us when we’re too rude to follow up after a phone screen or a face-to-face interview.

Key to Closing Top Candidates

Years ago I sat on a with the recruiting guru Bill Vick. Somebody asked, “How long should a job-seeker wait before bailing on a job opportunity, if the employer doesn’t get back in touch after an interview?”

I was thinking that  a week sounded right. Bill, who makes his living placing people into jobs (not telling his candidates to bail on job openings) said, “Ninety-six hours. That’s plenty of time. If they can’t call you back within four days, it’s best to get out of the pipeline.”

There was an immediate reaction to Bill’s comment among the other panelists. “That’s way too short!” said one. “It might take some companies weeks to get their ducks in a row.”

“Then they’re bad clients for me and unworthy of the excellent candidates I bring them,” said Bill. “Why would I reinforce bad behavior?”

Bill had it right. A woman said, “I tell my candidates to go home and paint their apartments. It could take six or twelve weeks for the offer to come.”

Is that what our customers and shareholders would want on our teams — people willing to paint their apartments while we take our time making hiring decisions? In my book a manager who can’t make a decision on a candidate in a week shouldn’t be in a management job.

We have a broken, toxic recruiting framework that hurts productivity, hurts our financial results and hurts individuals every day. We treat job-seekers like garbage instead of the valued collaborators they are, and when we say, “We don’t need to sell job candidates, because they should want the job already,” we add insult to injury.

If you aren’t willing to sell your opportunity to a job-seeker, maybe you’re afraid that you can’t. Maybe you’re afraid that there’s nothing special about the job or about working for you. Maybe you need a supplicant, grovelly job-seeker because you’d hate to have to answer the question, “Why should a smart and capable person take this job?”

We’re delighted to sell our customers on working with us. Why should it be any different with the talent community? The only difference is that deep down we’ve talked ourselves into the fiction that we hold all the cards in the recruiting process, and that applicants are nothing, dogmeat, far below us in the pecking order.

If we believe that, we’re dooming our organizations to hire fearful people who’ll never question a decision or voice an independent thought. We deserve to fail in that case.

It’s easy to sell a job candidate. All you have to do is ask questions, the same way a savvy job-seeker will ask you questions about what you’re up against in your job and where you could use help. If your job offers international travel, you’ll be excited to meet someone who really wants that exposure.

If your job is all about innovating, you’ll be able to let applicants know that they’ll have lots of room to try stuff and figure out what works. Fear of selling candidates on your opportunity is a fear of treating them like equals in the hiring tango.

If you don’t see your team members as equals, why in God’s name would anyone want to work for you?


liz ryan

This article was written by Liz Ryan from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Learn more about SmartRecruiters, the only platform managers and candidates love.

Ryan Salerno