Here’s a story:
A few weeks ago, we received a new role from a great client in the automotive service sector. Our contact at this organization had used Argentus’ services in three previous senior roles, and we had jumped into our network and found him talent for a variety of Procurement roles in the past. He’d moved into a Procurement leadership role at a new organization, one with an entrepreneurial spirit and rapid growth – so rapid, in fact, that he reached out to us immediately to find him a Sourcing Specialist.
What happened next illustrates a crucial aspect of the process of working with a recruiter, and a critical aspect of how companies should leverage specialized recruiters in particular to find them the best talent.
The successful candidate for this role needed 5 years of Procurement experience with strategic sourcing exposure, as well as the kind of dynamic background that showed high potential. One of our top recruiters, after sourcing a few candidates, sent along a resume and profile (as is customary) describing his background. The profile described his experience and tried to convey the fact that, while he was closer to the beginning of his career, he had a depth of varied experience in Procurement and a strong understanding of contracts and strategy.
The job was about fit. Our client needed a high-potential go-getter who could anticipate needs and take ownership of the Procurement process. Having worked with this client for years, at a number of different organizations, we knew this candidate was a fit. But for whatever reason, it didn’t come through on the resume. The client felt that the candidate didn’t have the required years of experience on paper and passed.
Which happens all the time. It’s an inevitable part of the recruitment process. But in this case, our recruiter knew this candidate – not to mention the field of Procurement itself – well enough to know he had the chops. She had a frank conversation with the client where she insisted on the candidate’s potential and depth of experience even though the client had declined to meet for an interview. The strength of her relationship with both the client and the candidate caused the client to take a second look. He met with the candidate, and everything our recruiter had seen came through: the poise, the sound understanding of the fundamentals of Procurement strategy, the experience. He was ready. But it took an in-person meeting for the client to see it. A few days later, the client sent along an offer, and the candidate accepted.
Success! For all involved. But it’s worth taking a second to think about this story and what it tells us about the practice of recruitment. It’s pretty instructive about how companies work with specialized recruiters, and how they can get the most bang for their buck. Two main takeaways from this story:
1. What makes a candidate great isn’t necessarily going to come through on paper.
A resume isn’t everything. It’s a written document in a genre nobody really likes to read or write, attempting to convey the whole of a person’s professional goals and accomplishments. And a great resume writer can convey these things through a resume. But even a great resume writer is going to have difficulty conveying the all-important intangibles: Personality. Character. Fit. That’s a huge part of what this client was looking for, and it wasn’t on the paper. It took him meeting the candidate in person.
A resume is, to an extent, a venue for the expression of a candidate’s written communication skills. But when you send a resume, or when you read a resume as a hiring manager, you’re taking it on faith that these intangibles will come through. And if you hew too closely to what’s on a resume and the way it’s written, it’s possible to miss those intangibles. Which brings us to our next takeaway:
2. Recruiting is about trust.
If a recruiter is a specialist with a strong bedrock understanding of the job they’re recruiting for (in this case, Procurement), and strong relationships with both clients and candidates, they’re going to be able to make connections and be a voice for the resume in a way that you just don’t have when hiring directly. When hiring directly, it’s easy to overlook great talent because a candidate whose resume doesn’t quite sing isn’t going to have that advocate who actually knows them. But a strong recommendation from a recruiter comes with a level of trust and credibility. That’s the real value of working with a recruiter when hiring, something that often gets overlooked when recruiters sell themselves based on the size of their databases.
Because this client had a strong working relationship with the Argentus recruiter, he was able to trust her opinion well enough to see that what made this candidate great wasn’t exactly coming through on the resume, and take a flyer on meeting him. And once he made the decision to place that trust in the process, and see the candidate, he made the hire and everyone comes away happy.
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