Talent Doesn’t Just Want A Job…

I once had a client who was baffled that candidates didn’t want to work for him. He’d put out several offers, only to be rebuffed.

The more we looked into it, the more we saw there was a disconnect between what he wanted for his company, and what his candidates wanted for themselves.

On paper, the candidates were perfect. It seemed like a good match. Recruitment processes were smooth. But they weren’t on the same trajectory.

When you’re hiring in demand generation, performance and growth roles, it isn’t just a case of “we’ve got a job so find us someone who can do the job”, you have to reverse engineer the project to “let’s find a candidate who wants to do the job”, and that’s not the same thing.

Sometimes, it’s just your brand

This can be a tough conversation. You may have bags of ambition, but do you have the brand to carry ambitious people with you?

You may, for instance, have your eyes on a very specific performance marketer who has achieved fantastic results wherever she’s gone. She’s open to work, she’s interviewing, she rejects you outright. Why? Because she has very specific requirements about the type of brand she wants to work for, e.g.

  • Must be sustainable
  • Values have to align
  • Needs to be female-led

I’ve had all of these, and more. It doesn’t matter how hard you try, if you’re not what the candidate wants for their next step, you’re not going to hire them.

It’s the stage you’re at…

This matters most in start-up world. I recently spoke to a couple of heavyweight demand generation specialists in the US who both said the same thing:

I’ll only work in a Series A or B funded company with good investors

Actual real candidates

And what’s more, they’d already gone out and investigated the investors. Talk about due diligence.

These are the elements that are often hidden – but implied – within a candidate’s CV, and you may be able to extract the implication by reading up on the background of their employers at the specific moment they joined.

Very often, revenue or pipeline-influencing marketers seek to capitalise on their revenue or pipeline metrics from past experiences, knowing where they have succeeded, and in many instances, knowing where they have failed.

It’s your clients…

You may have noticed the kerfuffle around McCann’s pitch for Aramco, and the fake agency that publicised its rather tongue-in-cheek pitch. I can tell you right now that there are at least twenty candidates in my database who have now scratched McCann from their prospective employer list.

The damage this bid has done to McCann’s employer brand is huge. They may not feel it due to the sheer volume of candidates they receive anyway who don’t care – but imagine if you’re a smaller player and you have to work to get your candidates in.

Younger generations especially are doing due diligence on agency clients. Is this an account I want to be working on? And perhaps more importantly – what budgets are they playing with?

Attractive as the employer brand may be, and as smooth as the recruitment processes may be – the talent rejects the agency on the basis of their connections.

The Trajectory Is All Wrong

And then, you have the case of the perfect candidate and the perfect client, but a misreading of the candidate’s trajectory.

There are – especially in the US – former directors of marketing who will take a backward step to Senior Manager or Head of if the fit is right. And there are Senior Managers who will only consider a step up to Head of or Director.

There are equally those who would consider a sideways step in title, but not a sideways step in responsibilities.

One man’s strategic title is another man’s hands-on title, and vice versa.

While there are plenty of demand gen and performance people who would gladly get their hands dirty in Google Ads and LinkedIn Ads, there are others who have moved on. They’ve had teams, or they want a team, to do that while they helicopter.

So what do I do now?

A few takeaways:

  1. Long-list according to perceived fit, but recognise only 20% may be on the same trajectory as you…
  2. Screen for their values and ambitions as much as their capabilities – talk about how they’d create their ideal next role if given a blank piece of paper
  3. Be up-front about exactly what is required day-to-day & where you hope to be in 12-18-24 months’ time with team structure.
  4. Ask the candidate to be up-front about what they want from the role, and what they expect of you. If you can’t meet their expectations, it may not be a match that lasts a long time.

By the way, we can get your long-list down for you so that you’re only interviewing candidates who are on the same trajectory and who share your values and outlook. Talk to us today (0203 441 6961) or email Gareth on gareth@theexample.co.uk


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