Why Is It Hard To Fill a Position?

Almost every week we are asked by clients why it is so hard to fill some positions. Recruiters often carry the stereotype that they know a ton of people and can almost always find a candidate quickly—unfortunately, that is not completely true.

Your Purple Squirrel

You may have heard the term “purple squirrel” when talking to a recruiter about a position you have open or simply in conversation if they are in the middle of a tough search.

Purple Squirrel (according to the all-knowing internet) – is a candidate with the perfect and precise amount of experience, education, qualifications and is willing (and happy) to work for the salary stated.

In other words: A uniquely talented, niche professional that you couldn’t find if everyone was jobless and you had an open role.

Have you ever seen an albino squirrel? Most have…and although they are very rare, they are more common than the elusive “purple.” Most jobs that cross recruiters’ desks are specific (that’s part of what makes it worth paying for help), but their target candidate is often not as rare and elusive as Mr. Purple. If you have a purple squirrel of a job, it can take quite a bit longer to find the exact right person.

The Salary Debacle

This will be its own ATG (Ask Talance Group) in due time, but salary offering is one of the key differentiators in filling jobs quickly. As a business owner, CFO or key decision maker, you have a budget and it is completely understandable that you must stay within it (we make these decisions with our own company too!), but keep in mind that a lower price point or salary does make it much more difficult to find that purple professional.

Figuring out salaries for positions is no easy task. Below are some simple best practices:

  1. Do your research. Look online to see what others are paying for these positions. Heck, even look at what your competitors are paying for similar roles
  2. Talk to your recruiter. They most likely have their thumb on the heartbeat of where the market is and what similar positions require.
  3. Know your budget—sometimes certain candidates may be out of your price range.

“Job Position” Yoga

Flexibility. We all know it’s healthy us, but it seems like we forget to stretch on a consistent basis. The same is true with your job requirements, if there are hard lines in the sand for years of experience, especially with specific skill sets you may run into some issues.

The truth is that smart, talented people learn quickly. Try an exercise…make a list with 3 columns:

  1. Absolute, bottom line “musts”—If they don’t have any of these, they are out!
  2. Pluses—You really want these in your candidate, but they are not deal killers, because you know if they are smart and driven then they can acquire these skills quickly.
  3. Nice To Haves/Reaches—You would be smitten if they had these attributes, but are not expecting it.

Look through your 3 columns—is there anything you could move from one column to the other? Are you ok with 8 years of experience compared to 10? Is it ok if they are not an expert in your CRM but have some experience with it? Thinking these through will help you find someone faster and make you happier in the long run.

Remember that flexibility is healthy—for both sides! You want a candidate who can be flexible on-the-job, and you should keep that mind when searching for that specialized professional.

Unless you have all the time in the world, (and let’s face it who does?), the less purple the candidate the less time you will have to spend hunting them! You may also be pleasantly surprised at some of the other skill sets you GAIN in a candidate that you otherwise would have ruled out.

Strive For Relationships…The Results

If you have a great recruiter, they will be up-front and honest with you (you typically find this with smaller agencies or more tenured employees). In the recruiting world, relationships mean everything, and it is not good practice to push a candidate on a client (and vice versa) if the person is not the right fit. A recruiter worth their salt will be able to admit defeat on a certain search before ruining a relationship or his/her reputation in the long run.

The goal is always to find the perfect candidate, but if you are not seeing what you want from your recruiter PLEASE give them feedback as early and often as you can, especially if it is the first time you have given a search to a firm.  Let the recruiter know… you call me too much, send too many resumes, the candidates are all wrong and you are not listening to me! If they are good at what they do, they can take it! Sometimes that is the only way to really get to the bottom of if you are indeed are looking for a purple squirrel!

If you have read this to the end (quite impressive!) and have gone through the suggestions to no avail, please give us a call at 713-357-9565. We want to give unbiased answers to your questions, whether you are able to hire us to help or not.

Happy Hunting!