Is Your Recruiter a Painter or a Sculptor?

Is Your Recruiter a Painter or a Sculptor?


Creativity is crucial in recruitment.

And, before you comment, I don’t mean making up qualifications or selling the non-existent skills of an unsuitable applicant. That sort of creativity is what gives us a bad name.

When you care about your clients and candidates, as most of us recruiters do, you want to get as close as possible to that ideal of the “perfect” match. There are often many grey areas which are open for exploration, and that is when the creative recruiter comes to the fore.

Their creative challenge will vary, depending on the type of role that they are recruiting for. In this article, I would like to look at the differences between new roles and replacement roles and suggest the qualities that a client should look for in a recruiter in these two scenarios:

With new roles, recruiters and hiring managers have a blank sheet of paper and have to work together to paint the picture of the ideal candidate, which often happens as they go along. The painting will have to be defined by the types of candidates that exist, with the recruiter playing a key role in education the client about what is and isn’t possible. It is often the case that the recruiter finds a candidate that the client “likes” and the role is moulded around the qualities of that person.

A recruiter in this “new role” scenario acts far more as a consultant and is more focused on solving a business need than filling a seat. It is therefore vital that they have an in-depth knowledge of the industry and their clients business. Clients should pay particular attention to the recruiters track record of successfully filling such roles with candidates that stick (by which I mean their candidates staying beyond 18 months) as attrition in the new role segment is far higher than for replacement roles.

With replacement roles, the recruiter is more often than not tasked with finding a sculpture as similar as possible to the one that has just vacated the plinth. This also requires creativity, as often the client will only remember the “best bits” of the previous incumbent. However as the expectations are so clear, the focus has to be more about how well the candidate “matches” what has just left.  Finding candidates for these briefs should be relatively straight forward as the requirement tends to be for “proven” or “defined” profiles. In this case the creativity comes when, as is invariably the case, the candidate is “different” to the previous incumbent and so the recruiter needs to take the time to explain where “match” and “fit” meet.

A good recruiter in this “replacement role” scenario will have a clearly defined area of expertise and will likely know people who do similar roles in competitive environments. There is a higher quantity of these requirements and you tend to see similar needs, across multiple clients, so only the very best recruiters care enough to be creative with the process. If you find a recruiter who is ready to ask the difficult questions and who tries to mould your job description to fit the market, you know you have found a good one.

So, are recruiters painters or sculptors? Well, the answer is both, but it is worth asking your recruiter about their experiences. The challenges in recruiting for different roles require different types of recruiters.

I personally see myself more as a painter….

Written by Alex Turner, Edited by Paul Drury.

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