10 Ways to Recognize An Unfillable Requisition

The empty chair.  The "no hire".  Let me tell you, it happens.  There are some positions that are just not going to get filled.  You can argue with me until you are blue in the face, but it is the honest truth. I wish it weren't true, but it is a cold hard fact.

How can you identify an unfillable requisition?  As a recruiter, what are the signs of a requisition that has absolutely no chance of getting filled?

The good news is that it can be avoided.  Here are 10 ways to recognize an unfillable requisition.

1.  The Budget is Not There  The good people are expensive.   As a manager, you should have an idea of what it is going to cost to bring on the person you want.  Do you have the budget to hire the person with the skills you desire? You can't have your cake and eat theirs too.  If you do end up hiring this person that takes your job for less because of budgetary reasons, they will leave you.  Guaranteed.  Someone else will pay more.

2.  A Manager is Trying to Fill 5 Positions With One  On an executive level, you can ask someone to wear 5 different hats.  You can probably even find a well educated individual that COULD do all of the jobs you are asking.  Realistically though, are you asking too much from your to- be- hired?  Most people are really good at one or two things.  Don't ask the world of them.  It isn't fair to the employee.

3. A Manager OR Recruiter is Unresponsive  You can't get very far if there isn't communication.  LOTS of communication.  If a manager doesn't get back to you within a certain time frame, then you WILL lose your candidate.  If the recruiter doesn't respond back to the manager when they say "go", you will frustrate the manager and the candidate. 

4.  A Manager Can't Articulate What They Want  Recruiters aren't mind readers.  Tell us what you want and we will find it.  Recruiters, ask deep questions.  Have a thorough intake session with the manager.  Ask questions that they may not think to ask.  A question a recruiter could ask is: "What would your ideal candidate look like?"  You could also ask "What companies would you like your candidate to come from?" or "What skills are most important to you?"

5.  You Have Too Many People Involved In the Interview Process  Hold your horses Mr. Manager.  Do you really need 25 people to interview this candidate?  Don't you think that is a little overkill?  Who do you think really needs to be involved in this decision making process.  I can almost guarantee someone will dislike this candidate. 

6.  Analysis Paralysis   Don't over-analyze your candidate.  If you over- analyze then you will most certainly dislike something about this candidate.  It is okay to do testing.  I encourage it.  You will know what kind of individual you are getting.  Some people don't test well though.  It is okay to look at metrics, but don't get paralyzed by them.  You will end up talking yourself out of a candidate every time!

7.  The "No Decision" Makers  At some point you have to pull the trigger. If you have interviewed a number of candidates and still can't make a decision because you are gun shy, you may never have enough confidence to pull the trigger.  Sometimes you have to roll the dice.  I understand you may make a bad decision, but a bad decision (in my opinion) is better than no decision at all.  Recruiters will get frustrated and work on other requisitions as they will take priority. 

8. The "Hiring Freeze" Candidate  If you have been in recruiting or management long enough, you have experienced the "Hiring Freeze".  If a manager is pushing for a candidate to be hired and there are parameters from HR not to hire an individual for a certain amount of time, unfortunately, the requisition may not get filled.  As a recruiter, you must be proactive, but also it is important to be realistic. 

9.  Inflexibility  Sometimes managers need to be flexible.  You may need to hire an H1 candidate or F1 candidate.  You may need to relocate someone from a different city and pay relocation fees because the skill set you are looking to fill isn't in your city.  You may need to look at telecommuting as an option to hire the right individual.  If you aren't flexible, you may not ever find your candidate.

10.  You are Working With the Wrong Person  Recruiting is Sales.  If you are working with the wrong hiring manager and he doesn't have the hiring authority, then you can't get a position filled.  Sure, someone may need someone to fill a seat, but if they don't have HR approval, then it will never get filled.  If you are an agency recruiter, work on qualified requisitions.  If you are a corporate recruiter, work only on the requisitions that have been signed off on to be filled. 

If you liked this article, please follow me on Twitter @WThomsonJr and connect with me on Linkedin.  Click on the below link to subscribe to my weekly newsletter.  Will

Views: 3954

Comment by Malia Jorgensen on May 21, 2013 at 1:09pm

Great post, Will!  Another one that is frustrating is a hiring manager that pulls the trigger too soon. You start recruiting and then have to stop because they don't have all their "ducks in a row". 

Comment by Chris Bailey on May 21, 2013 at 1:11pm

Very true Will, very true, the other side of it is the cost of not hiring the individual can often positively affect the budget if presented in the right way but its a trait seen time and time again. The other point not raised above is that the client over estimates the power of their brand... they may think they are an employer of choice but the market thinks the opposite. Recruiters should also be consultive on this topic giving factual examples of turnover and what the competition is doing that they are not. again this often breaks the deadlock and position you as a person of intellect and results...good blog though :)

Comment by Will Thomson on May 21, 2013 at 1:35pm

@ Malia- That is very frustrating.  Before recruitment begins, the manager has to be ready to interview and make a hire.  It gives the company a bad name when you begin recruitment and there is a "no hire"

@Chris- Great points!  Everyone thinks their brand is the best.  You are also correct by saying not hiring can help the budget.  I guess you could also say by not hiring the individual, you lose productivity and growth potential.  It is frustrating from a recruiters stand point to go through the process with no end result.

Comment by Derdiver on May 21, 2013 at 3:46pm

Will!!!!  There is a lid for every pot...oh never mind.  Nice read man!

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on May 21, 2013 at 4:03pm

it's not unfillable - you just didn't find a purple enough squirrel. :) J/K this is awesome thanks Will!

Comment by Will Thomson on May 21, 2013 at 4:07pm

Thanks Derek & Amy!  I know you have seen this.  

Comment by Will Branning on May 21, 2013 at 4:11pm

Thanks for this timely post - I have a client coming back to me for the third time on an open position. I need to have a heart-to-heart conversation with the hiring manager - in the past he phone interv'd a few of my candidates and said he would move forward with them but did not...also, he was inconsistent in providing specific and timely feedback on my candidates. He may be hung up on wanting to from a competitor, but not offering enough $ to lure them away. I am going to do my due diligence before I spend any more time on this search...

Comment by Gail on May 21, 2013 at 4:17pm

Will nice post.  I couldn't agree more that recruiting is sales.  If you don't have the right factors you will never fill the position.  We benchmark jobs and the process guarantees that we have all of necessary commitment before we start.  It also provides buy in of the "right" candidate so we don't get any change of mind/heart after the fact.  Keep up the good work.

Comment by Suzanne Levison on May 21, 2013 at 4:32pm

Excellent Topic. Back to qualifying the search project.

Comment by Alexander Korbeck on May 21, 2013 at 5:28pm

And my personal recent favourite - the contractor who is screening CV's for a permanent member of staff to fill their position! Because they are bound to want to lose that contract aren't they?


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