The Wish List: How to Find the People You Actually Need

One of the burning issues associated with the hiring process is that at times, no matter how thorough the process is- wrong people are hired. Truth be told, I recently came to the realisation that in most cases the blame should be pointed towards recruitment consultants and not the employer (who makes the final decision).

The fault of recruiters doesn’t stem from the failure to perfectly match candidates to the job specification. To the contrary: Recruiters should be blamed for blindly following job specifications that resemble wishlists as opposed to realistic requirements. Many recruiters go straight into ‘search mode’ without digging into a particular role, looking into the day-to-day tasks, technical skills, or truly understanding what an employer is looking for.

hiring wish list

It’s not surprising that many people are skeptical about the future of the recruitment business. Those who work and represent the recruitment market forget that a recruiter’s job isn’t to simply find the people who match a job description. My job as a recruitment consultant is to firstly help employers understand who the ideal person they should be looking for is. We are consultants first.

A few weeks ago I was contacted by a hiring manager in a large law firm looking to hire a new EMEA Infrastructure Manager. In our short conversation, he told me that the position has been unfilled for the past 8 months, and even though he reached out to a number of recruitment companies – all 7 candidates that were presented did not reach past the second stage of interviews. After booking a meeting, I had a chance to look at the Job Spec and the problem became very clear to me. It was a Wishlist made out of an extensive array of requirements: 3+ fluent languages, extensive team management experience, multiple qualifications, a range of technical skills, and a role description that had everything but focus.

When I got to the meeting, I had one goal in mind: figuring out what is the actual role- what will the new EMEA Infrastructure Manager’s daily life at work look like? After answering this question, both the hiring manager and I will know where to start. Prior to our meeting, he was looking for an IT manager with a long record of people management and interpersonal communication abilities across multiple languages. Fundamentally, a people’s manager with specific technical knowledge. Though, by the end of our meeting it was clear that the role description has turned upside down.

“The only way to find an answer, is to ask the right questions

What the Company was actually looking for was a manager with incredibly in-depth knowledge into the technology and systems that were going to be used. The EMEA Infrastructure Manager had to have a knowledge deep enough to set targets and lead a small team to a successful completion of a 6 month long project. In an instant, the Job Spec turned into a search after an Infrastructure Manager with an extremely specific set of expertise; as opposed to the original misleading Job Spec.

It was no sorcery that turned a Job Wishlist into an incredibly specific search after an IT professional. As a consultant, I knew that 5 specific questions will lead to a correctly defined hiring process. These Questions were:

  1. What will his/her responsibility be? (an example of daily challenges and routine)
  2. How important is the Management aspect for day to day work/How hands on are they going to be?
  3. Why are you looking to hire for this position?
  4. Why choose this specific technology or system?
  5. Where have your projects gone wrong in the past?

It is a rule of thumb, that before trying to solve a problem, we must first identify the problem itself; figure out where we want to get and a broad framework to do so. Only then the problem can be solved. In the specific case of hiring for IT roles, whether you are a recruitment consultant or not- correctly defining the role you are looking for is predicated on asking the right questions.

In many ways, Job Specifications and the search after the ‘perfect candidate’ can turn into a wishlist hunt. However, that is the exact reason a recruitment consultant’s job is not that of a middle man. Recruitment consultants are firstly there to consult, guide, and share the knowledge gained through daily conversations with the people who are out there looking for the job. Turning wishlists into a calculated match of potential and need.

Published on LinkedIn By Yasmin Saied / Infrastructure and Network Security Contract Specialist – Financial and Professional Services Sector

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