As a recruiter, I can make you one guarantee: I will do everything I can to find you good talent.
I have to do that. My success depends on repeat business and referrals.
That’s my guarantee. I will bring talent to your doorstep.
But I—or any other recruiter—can’t guarantee what happens next.
I can’t guarantee talent will accept the position—but I can tell you why talent won’t accept a position, even if he or she has great chemistry with the hiring manager.
Ultimately, a candidate’s choice comes down to three factors:
- Company Brand
- Job Content
A candidate may accept a lateral position for roughly equal pay at a company with a better brand. For example, a Marketing Manager at a small, regional consumer electronics manufacturer may jump at the chance to accept a similar position at Apple, even if the pay isn’t significantly different and the job content is the same.
However, a Marketing Manager at Apple would almost never move to a smaller company without a significant increase in responsibility or more money.
Think of it this way: If you tell friends at a dinner party where you work, and they are impressed, that matters. This “prestige factor” is its own form of compensation.
Like company brand, job content also matters.
Candidates may be willing to sacrifice some company brand prestige in exchange for a more challenging job with a bigger title. A Vice President of a single division at a large company would likely take an opportunity to be CEO at a smaller, regional company.
One of the more obvious examples of a candidate trading company brand for better job content was Ron Johnson, Apple’s former Senior Vice President of Retail Operations. He left Apple in 2011 to become CEO of J.C. Penney, a much smaller American clothing retailer.
A candidate may also sacrifice some company brand prestige and job content for better compensation. While it’s true that money won’t buy happiness, it’s also true that being unnecessarily cheap won’t get you the candidate you want.
Money is important to candidates, and it’s not because they are greedy.
Changing jobs—even in the best of circumstances—is traumatic, but the trauma is lessened if a candidate knows he or she is better able to provide for themselves and their families because of the job change.
Company Brand + Job Content + Money
This tryptic forms “The Risk Premium” for the candidate!
Ultimately, those three factors will determine whether the risk premium is high enough for a candidate to accept a position.
“But we have a great culture,” you say.
Company culture is subjective, and known only to those inside of a company.
Brand, job content, and (particularly) money are objective—and candidates make choices based on objective, known factors.
A recruiter can bring you all the candidates in the world, but if those candidates aren’t offered a better company brand, a better job, or more money, you won’t fill your position—and it usually takes more than just one of those factors being better to get the candidate you want.
Before you engage a recruiter, make sure you do the following:
- Be honest with yourself and other stakeholders involved in the hiring process about your company brand and its position within your industry. If you aren’t a market leader, you’ll need to factor that into your recruitment strategy.
- If possible, build flexibility into the job content. For example, if you find out your candidate always wanted to be an entrepreneur, maybe there is a way to have her work on a task force launching a new brand—even if participating on the task force wasn’t part of the original duties.
- Don’t kid yourself about compensation. Money matters, and is probably the most important of the three. Don’t expect to be able to get the candidate you want by underpaying him.
At Robertson Associates, we will do everything in our power to bring you qualified candidates.
But, as much as we would like to be, we are not magicians—and recruiting is not magic. In the end, whether a candidate accepts a position depends on the three factors discussed here.
Pierre Collowald is a Senior Partner at Robertson Associates, a European Executive Search and Leadership Solutions boutique. Pierre is working out of Brussels, Paris and Zurich. firstname.lastname@example.org