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Either I’m losing my touch, or Recruitment is getting harder. Once upon a time, I’d take a job brief, perform a quick search on the mobile database between my ears, and call an invariably keen candidate, all before I made it back to the office. A few cogs would turn, and a week later I’d have a signed contract and a bottle of wine waiting for me at Reception. Older recruiters spoke of “candidate control” and I assumed it was a hair product. And then, as if to spite my cruisey life, the economy only went and grew. Increasingly, candidates no longer bit my hand off. And sometimes, sometimes, my candidates had another offer to consider. How dare they??

In candidate-short markets, power inevitably shifts towards the candidates. What follows this is a shift in behaviour, and for a recruiter trying to align two moving targets, it’s for the worst. Candidates go from being amenable, responsive, eager, well-prepared, and mature adults, to intentionally obtuse and surly teenagers. When I first came to New Zealand in 2011, there were far few internal recruitment opportunities and many more candidates. The simple task of booking interviews was much more…simple. A client would give me a time, and the candidate would invariably make themselves available. Currently, the client needs to give me three times just in case the candidate is having brunch with their cousin or Grand Designs is on Prime.

This extends to the job offer. Talking to an engineering recruiter recently, he told me how the initial job offer was very much the start of the process. A bidding war, often with multiple parties, ensues; the candidate’s value sky rocketing like Grey Lynn real estate. Once the final bid is placed, according to this recruiter, candidates can take over a week to “consider” the 40% pay rise on offer.

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We’re currently seeing the same phenomenon in New Zealand’s ridiculously drawn-on election process. By some quirk of fate, the balance of power once again sits with a man who only obtained 7.5% of the vote. And, like the .net developer with 5 job offers, Winston Peters is in no hurry to return phone calls. As a skittish Bill English and Jacinda Ardern pace the halls like rival recruiters battling to make a placement on the last day of the quarter, good ol’ Winston is out on his boat, no doubt guffawing at his own racist jokes. And although NZ First’s policies are (surprisingly) more aligned with Labour‘s, it seems that Peters, like the most mercenary sales rep, will go with who ever offers him the fanciest job title. What a fantastic public servant…

Some would say this is supply and demand. A scarce commodity which meets a requirement will always call the shots. This may be the case with diamonds, footballers, and heterosexual men who can actually dance, but for us in the people game, it isn’t as simple as that. Like out of season Avocados, there comes a point where they’re just too unobtainable. Candidates who are too laissez faire during the recruitment process, especially at the pointy end, will all too often be left high and dry. Clients who tell us recruiters “Get them at any cost!”, really mean “Get them at any cost! Except if they act like a dick or have unrealistic salary demands”.

I fully support candidates who are considered and discerning in their approach to the recruitment process. However, at some point, a job seeker needs to put their proverbial cock on the proverbial block and say “Yes Hiring Manager! I want this job!”. Regardless of how scarce your talent, there is someone, somewhere, who can do your job. And unlike you, they may be hungry for it. It was The Beatles who sang “Don’t you know that it’s a fool who plays it cool?“, and when it comes to seizing that great new job, they have a point.

They also sang “I am the egg man, they are the egg men. I am the walrus, coo coo cachoo” so they’re clearly not always on the money.

Have a great weekend one’n’all.