Straight Answers to Real Questions
Question: I’m the Vice President of Finance for a fairly large retail concern with stores across Canada. I recently promoted one of my divisional controllers into a regional Director of Finance role and I needed to backfill that position. Since I didn’t have anyone in my accounting group ready to move up into that role, I decided to use a recruiter.
I get calls from recruiters all the time telling me that they have the perfect Financial Reporting Manager, Tax Manager, Controller, Financial Analyst etc., etc. for me so I thought I’d put them to the test.
I sorted through my e-mails and picked three recruiters who I knew specialized in accounting and finance and sent them all an email with the job description and salary range. I listed my key criteria in terms of technical skills and industry experience and asked each of the recruiters to submit their one or two best candidates in the next few days.
The net result of this exercise was that I may have got resumes, but I didn’t get good candidates. I wouldn’t characterize any of the resumes as bad but I also wouldn’t characterize any of them as good either. I could do just as well by posting the job on LinkedIn but I don’t have the time to sort through a ton of resumes and frankly, I’ve never been that impressed with the quality of resumes I’ve gotten from job boards in the past.
So what’s the deal here? These recruiters have been after me for months and months for my business and when I finally give them a shot, they drop the ball. If they’re so specialized in accounting, why didn’t any of them produce the perfect candidate?
Answer: Even if the recruiters you reached out to are all specialists in the finance and accounting market and have access to an in-house database of hundreds of resumes of readily available candidates, that’s no guarantee that any of them will happen to know the right candidate for you at the time that you ask for them.
For one thing, active candidates have a shelf life and the more junior the candidate, the shorter the shelf life. Very good candidates don’t tend to linger very long in a placement agency’s database; they find jobs fairly quickly, either through the agency or on their own. Which means that the majority of candidates a recruiter can access quickly are what you saw – average.
That being said, it’s possible or even probable that one of the recruiters did happen to know of someone who was dead solid perfect for your divisional controller role. But when approached on the job, that perfect someone wasn’t interested in your job. Job seekers have a list of criteria as well – geography, industry, career path, etc. and just because they’re a fit for you, that doesn’t mean you’re a fit for them.