The official blog of Abacus Group — a place to share our knowledge and thoughts on trends in recruiting

August 29, 2017

How to Best Manage Realistic Hiring Expectations


As an employer, you naturally want to have the best talent on your team. Unfortunately, however, no one is perfect or is the perfect employee, and it’s therefore essential to prioritize what you look for in a candidate to ensure that even if not every box is checked, at least the most important ones are. To set realistic expectations, it’s essential you understand the hiring market and how your business fits into it. Don’t get swept up in search of the elusive purple squirrel.

‘Purple squirrel’ is terminology used by recruiting professionals in reference to a candidate with the right education, experience and perfect range of skills that prove them to be exemplary and an ideal fit for the advertised role. Much like a purple squirrel, however, it’s impossible to find.

Assistant Director of Temporary Staffing, Melissa Perez, “In today’s market, finding the perfect candidate is like finding a needle in a haystack. Perhaps employers should focus on identifying that person who is closest to being their perfect candidate and giving them a chance to succeed in their organization. Sometimes it’s all about taking a chance.”

Before even consolidating your needs or writing up job specs, it’s important to get informed about the job market and your competition. If you are filling an existing position in your company, you are likely not able to use the exact same job posting as last time. This is because requirements for the role may change; the previous employee in that position would have set a precedent about the actual demands of the position. The passing of time will undoubtedly cause a change in the job posting, even if it’s simply a change in vernacular or updated technology used in the role.

Know what your competitors are looking for and already have on staff. Get informed about market value so you know that what you are offering is comparable to what you are asking of candidates. The hiring process on the side of the employer can be equally as competitive as it is on the side of job-seekers. If you can’t necessarily offer more money to prospective employees, learn what you can do to sweeten the deal. Recent studies on employee retention have shown that employees are willing to accept lower salaries and longer work days in exchange for higher quality healthcare or vacation time.

It helps to write out a list of what you seek in an ideal candidate then rank the attributes from most important to least, even eliminating some along the way. This will not only aid you in writing the job posting but also in ensuring that what you seek isn’t a purple squirrel. In doing this you will come to realize what skills can and cannot be taught, or at the very least, what you are willing to invest time in by teaching and what you want to be a part of the candidate’s total package. You may even need to revisit the job posting if you realize it has been on the market for a while despite a consistent stream of worthy applicants.

If the supply of impeccable talent is stronger than the demand for it, you can afford to be picky, if that’s not the case, you need to work on managing your expectations. There will come times when as a hiring manager, you have the upper hand due to an oversupply of skilled candidates however you will only come to learn this through doing research on the hiring market. Ultimately you do not want to be passing up great candidates in search of someone who may not be out there or is out there but is gainfully employed already. Think of the value of your time and the importance of filling this role. Naturally, you shouldn’t have to compromise on your wants and at Abacus we pride ourselves on delivering quality candidates however, it’s also important you don’t sweat the small stuff.

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