Lack of clarity? Your biggest obstacle.

Lack of clarity? Your biggest obstacle.

Author: Laura Mazzullo

One of the ways to measure success in recruitment is to ensure we are placing talent in roles that align with their goals, and that we’re providing hiring managers with the talent they are seeking. The biggest obstacle to doing this well: lack of clarity.

Think about it: If a candidate struggles to identify what they want next, how will they know which role to select? If a hiring manager can’t define what they are looking for in a candidate, how will they be able to select the right candidate when they come along?

It seems obvious and straightforward, but I see this as a pervasive challenge for both hiring managers and job-seekers.

Let’s look at it first from the hiring perspective. The most common reason managers see themselves with roles open 6-8 weeks or longer is because they haven’t truly identified what they need.

I can’t tell you how often I hear the following:

“We want someone more junior, but these candidates lack executive presence…”

“We want someone more senior, but I’m worried these candidates will be bored…”

“I want someone strategic, but will they be able to roll up their sleeves…”

“I want someone tactical, but I’m worried they’re not strategic enough…”

They’re often left stuck, just meeting more and more people-and having trouble identifying who would be a good match for them. Why is this a problem?

1) It negatively impacts candidates who are taking time to interview for these roles. Candidates have a negative perception of the organization. They feel their time was wasted because a manager didn’t really know what they wanted. It doesn’t’ bode well for this employer brand as candidates start thinking “ooooh, that job. Yeah, I’ve heard of that one through my network. They’ve interviewed everyone. That’s been open forever! They don’t know what they want” (I hear this a LOT).

2) It negatively impacts the current employer’s team. Employees start to work harder than ever because of the vacant spot on their team. Employees may become disgruntled and bitter, and resentful that their boss can’t make a clear hiring decision. Having your staff work on an understaffed team may mean that you risk additional turnover that could have been avoided!

3) It frustrates the hiring manager! Who wants to have to interview dozens of people and work on a role for months? It’s incredibly hard work. Managers: help yourselves by having clarity, clear expectations and a realistic vision for who you are going to hire.

How to improve this? Talk to your Recruitment partners. Talk to any decision-making leaders in the process. Ensure you are all on the same page. Gain clarity! Understand what the market bears. Have realistic expectations about who you can find within your budget. Understand what you may truly need, and what can be learned on the job. Know what’s been missing on the team thus far. Know what problems you need to solve. Know what your main goals are for this incoming candidate. The more focus and clarity you have at the start of the search, the easier the process will be!

Now, it’s not just hiring managers who are struggling with clarity. The same has been evident on the candidate side…Some candidates I talk to see their job-search from a strictly externally-motivated perspective (what roles are out there?), but they haven’t thought internally about what they want/need next.

Some comments demonstrating lack of clarity I hear from candidates:

“I want a bigger firm to round my experience, but I like a smaller environment better so I don’t know….”

“I want to change industries but, well maybe not– because I love my industry…”

“I am better on a team, well…I actually prefer to work autonomously, and I’m not sure what I want…”

“I think I just want to stay where I am but want more money where I am, but maybe a new job would make me happy, I’m not sure if I’m ready to leave, I don’t know…”

Why is this a problem?

1) It can create enormous anxiety for candidates. Because they’re struggling to determine if they are ready to change jobs or not, they are losing sleep and may be feeling really exhausted! The key is to really determine if you’re ready for change or not. Vacillating between readiness and fear of change can really drive you nuts!

2) It can create frustration for hiring managers when they meet candidates who can’t articulate what they want/need next. Most interviewers will ask candidates about their goals going forward. If there isn’t a clear motivator for changing jobs, or a clear visionfor the future-it concerns employers. Why? Well, they want to ensure they can retain and engage their new-hires. If they don’t know what they’ll have to do in order to retain/engage someone, due to the candidate’s lack of self-awareness, they feel apprehensive to move forward.

3) Your career can only thrive with your own participation. Self-awareness is the first way to identify what it takes to make you happy at work. Without that clarity, you may just be going through the motions without any passion or enthusiasm. This is fine for some, but most HR pros I know would prefer to feel fully engaged at work. That comes from knowing what you need/want.

How to improve this? Write down your goals. Stop thinking about it and put it to paper! Reflect upon your career. Think about your favorite boss, company culture, role you’ve had thus far. Why were they your favorites? Do the same for your least favorites. Really dig deep and know what motivates you. What’s missing for you now? What would you need next to feel better than you do know? The more clarity you have in this process, the easier your job-search will be! You’ll be able to identify the perfect role when it arises, and a future employer will be comforted and impressed with your self-awareness. They’ll then be able to offer you what you need.

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