Kilpatrick Executive

Insights

The Obstacle Course Of Headhunters In The Era Of The Pandemic

Most of company’s activities in this period have been, for obvious reasons, digitized and even the selection of personnel is experiencing the same phenomenon by moving into an almost completely virtual environment.

The transformation of the process has certainly been dictated by events, but it has accelerated a phenomenon that was already well known in many countries and most companies have found these new digital methods effective and extremely fast. Therefore, what was born out of necessity will become the norm in our near future as regards the search and selection of talents.

Those who have benefited most from these new methods for recruiting are certainly the same candidates who, in the normal course, in facing a selection process for a company, were obliged to carve out time taking time off to be able to sustain the numerous interviews with the selection company and with the company itself.

In this period characterized by the pandemic and, consequently, by smart-working, we recruiters have noticed a greater willingness on the part of eligible candidates to undertake a selection process. Surely for most of them there is the usual interest in evaluating professional growth and an improvement in their role but, more than usual, it happens to run into people with little motivation but who, given the ease of organization and the little time commitment required by the interviews and the fact of not being controlled by their company working from home, they go on through the various steps of the selection process and then withdraw at the last moment.

Hence the great frustration of the companies and of the headhunters themselves who, having arrived at the moment of greatest satisfaction of the exhausting selection process, that is, at the moment of the choice of the candidate and the formulation of the offer, find themselves with nothing when this last decides to refuse. The much sought-after goal is not reached at the last moment and the candidate decides not to get on board for the new adventure and the search must restart.

Surely the reasons for a refusal can be different, from an inadequate offer by the customer, to an alternative proposal that is more interesting for the candidate, to the famous and feared counteroffer of the outgoing company, to the real fear of accepting a new challenge and the risks it entails.

In this specific historical moment this last point is more present, people want to change and face the selection process willingly also because, as mentioned, it is facilitated in the modality, but greater hesitations than in the past take place related to the fear of facing the unknown and going to a probationary period with an unknown employer.

Surely the headhunter, in their role, must pay more and more attention to the signals sent by the candidates to try to anticipate the problem and the risks. Sometimes the candidate is honest and shares their concerns or informs us of the alternatives that he is considering, and we can work with them, not create too many expectations in the client or find a plan B with valid alternatives in the final roster. In short, sometimes the possibility of rejection is in the air and the news does not take us by surprise. Others, unfortunately, even for us the refusal of the offer is unexpected leaving a bad taste in our mouth for not being able to understand the poor motivation of the candidate and the strong doubts regarding elements that seemed to us evaluated, considered and fully accepted.

Surely our job is not easy, and it never has been, but I feel like saying that in this pandemic period things have become even more difficult. When companies can hire, they look for particularly competent people from complex and structured contexts and find it hard to be satisfied and the candidates, in turn, have many doubts, many fears and think about it before leaving the old road for the new one. Often then a sort of gratitude arises for the employers who, in this difficult period, have been able to support their collaborators practically and emotionally and the candidate finds it difficult to do him wrong and fly to other shores.

It is undoubtedly easier and less risky to move to applications that are actively looking for a job and who spontaneously respond to advertisements or request to be entered in the database. Normally, however, companies that turn to headhunters need to go and “hunt” talented people who are not actively considering a professional change. It is therefore clear that most of the refusals come from this type of candidacy that must be attracted, understood and supported in the choice up to the last moment and even beyond.

In conclusion, the mistake not to make is to reduce the attention threshold, to assume that it is now done, that the road to closing the project is downhill. On the contrary, it is necessary to remain on guard until the moment of the much-needed signature and, unfortunately, sometimes, until the moment the candidate enters the company.