How To Find The Best Job Candidates (Looking Past The Resume)

Posted on January 17, 2020

For the last decade, unemployment rates in Canada have been plummeting. It’s a trend that’s great for our economy, but one that results in a highly competitive market for quality talent. Employers are feeling the pinch, as it’s continuously more difficult to find and retain successful employees. Job postings seem to return only unqualified candidates, with inadequate experience and lackluster resumes. Are all the good ones taken?

Getting clear on what makes a high-quality candidate is the first step in alleviating the hiring pinch. Senior Consultant and Partner at MacDonald Search Group, Jeff Danis, has over 3 decades of experience identifying top candidates. In this article, he provides valuable insights on where employers are going wrong and how to find and hire incredible candidates, even in a tough market.

What Makes A Good Job Applicant?

Good candidates, like good employees, come prepared. They have thoughtful questions for their interviewer on the company, role, past employees, and current team. They show curiosity and invest time to do research on the company's products and or services.

Good candidates are friendly and genuine. They approach the interview as a collaborative discussion and see the recruiter as a partner in the hiring process, rather than as an obstacle to get past. They also have self-awareness of how their skills, education, background, and interests help them qualify (or not) for the role.

What Separates The Good Candidates From The Best Ones?

The best candidates are professional, confident, engaging, and competitive. They’re focused on success and look for ways to stand out from the crowd. Rather than passively waiting for someone else to do things on their behalf, they take ownership of the interview process and the outcome.

The style and cadence of communication can be an insight into the candidate’s calibre as well.

A great candidate is able to speak to their accomplishments effectively and in a humble manner. They also follow up promptly, showing engagement and respectfulness.

Where Employers Go Wrong In Assessing Job Candidates

It’s easy to follow a script during the recruitment process, playing the role of the evaluative interviewer. But sticking to the strict way of how things have always been done will ensure that you remain stuck in your recruitment efforts as well.

Everyone is looking for the best candidates, but some are more successful at hiring them. If you want to come out on top, avoid these common employer mistakes:

Hiring Competitors

The allure of getting a peek behind the curtain draws employers to seek out candidates who are direct competitors. Although on paper this experience could make them appear to be a successful candidate, they often don’t fit the culture of the company they’re being hunted for.

Employers can miss the impact that cultural attributes have on the quality of a candidate. Attitude, mindset, character, and integrity are highly valued, though less quantifiable than a title. A person’s innate nature is much more related to their long-term success than the skills and jobs they’ve acquired.

Falling In Love With The Jerk

It’s comical how many similarities the hiring process and romantic relationships share. One such parallel is a tendency to be impressed by the one who’s hard to get. In today’s tight market, the best candidates are often Headhunted. They aren’t actively looking for a new job and need to be convinced that making a move is the best in their career.

A lack of motivation is not an indicator of their ability to be successful. Candidates who are overly confident, braggadocious, and disinterested or unprepared are never going to transform into prince charming. Neither will those who won’t take no for an answer, who are determined to win at all costs.

Key Takeaways For Employers

Recruitment isn’t just filling the hole in an organization, it’s about finding the best solution to your business needs for the long term.

Honesty Is Paramount

Those who are open, honest, and transparent in the interview and hiring process are highly valued candidates and employees. Applicants and employers want to make a great impression, but even small lies can snowball into costly mistakes. Honesty on both sides of the interview is key to making a great placement that will endure.

Experience Isn’t Everything

The job market is radically different now than it was just a few years ago. Unemployment is low and the successive generations behind the Baby Boomers are significantly smaller--the market is tight!

It’s important to embrace flexibility with your experience criteria, consider traits and attributes versus experience alone. For example, we screen candidates for more than just job and skillset-oriented criteria, we evaluate their suitability as professionals working for your organization. In addition to considering their experience, we look at candidates from an ethics and integrity standpoint. We investigate their background to learn more about what makes them tick.

A quality candidate is more than what they’ve done, it’s who they are.

We Help You Find The Diamond In The Rough

Companies we work with often have job openings advertised in their careers sections in tandem with our recruitment efforts. That’s a great way to cast a wide net, but it’s important to remember that your search firm’s candidate submissions are fundamentally different from an open application to your posting.

Macdonald Search Group consultants meet every single candidate before we submit them for consideration. We recognize that candidates may not always be overly impressive on paper, that’s why we spend the time to identify indicators of exceptionalism even behind a poorly composed resume. While we don’t have the time to be resume writers, we know a quality candidate when we meet them.

If you’re ready to find the best job candidates on the market, contact MacDonald Search Group today to speak with one of our highly skilled consultants.