B-Level Candidates? Then It's a B-Level Company

When the hiring manager at one of your clients informs you that unemployed candidates will no longer be considered for their job openings, the best question you can ask them is also the simplest:


It's not the only question, by any stretch of the imagination, but just like any objection, it must be overcome by finding out the true reason for the objection. Once you find that reason--and are able to address it--then you can overcome it (in most instances).

Educating the hiring manager about why they should consider an unemployed candidate starts with asking questions and listening rather than talking. It's important to discover what's fueling their objection and understand their personal stake in the reason they're presenting that objection before attempting to overcome it. You can use a number of different questions to make that discovery, some examples of which are listed below:

  • "Why do you feel that unemployed candidates aren't worth your time?"
  • "What is it about considering the employed only that you believe will ensure that the best person possible is hired?"
  • "Once the economy recovers, do you believe that you'll once again consider unemployed candidates, or is this new requirement a permanent one?"

And here's an excellent question, a hypothetical one, for drilling down into the objection and determining what exactly is behind it:

"Are you saying that I should present a B-level candidate who's currently employed rather than an A-level candidate who's unemployed, no matter how small an amount of time they've been without a job?"

If the hiring manager acknowledges the fact that they want to see a B-level candidate who's employed rather than an A-level candidate who's unemployed--end of story--then there's not much you can do at that point.

Besides moving the company onto your B-level client list.

Companies who aren't interested in hiring the very best, regardless of employment status, can't be considered among your best clients. If their hiring managers don't want to see the very best candidates you have to offer, then they won't. Instead, you'll be presenting those candidates to other companies, those that do want to hire the best.

B-level candidates . . . for B-level clients.

A-level companies don't let extenuating circumstances (and the economy can be placed into that category) dissuade them in their quest for excellence and their corresponding search for those candidates who will help them to achieve that excellence. In fact, they're probably the companies who are actively seeking to find superstars who are unemployed, the "diamonds in the rough," because they know that their competitors are less likely to do so. That's what makes then A-level companies.

So in their attempts to pre-screen candidates by only considering those who are currently employed, companies are actually pre-screening themselves for recruiters who are looking to represent and work with the very best.

What are your thoughts? Do clients who won't consider unemployed candidates deserve to be downgraded to "B-level" status? How many unemployed superstar candidates have you presented since the first of the year?

(Matt Deutsch is a writer for Top Echelon's Recruiter Training Blog.)

Views: 220

Comment by Sheldon Campbell on June 22, 2010 at 10:37am
Excellent topic, Matt! I have faced this only once, and it was very difficult to keep a positive expression on my face, when faced with such a negative attitude. Here's how I responded:

You realize, of course, that you're removing most of my candidate base from consideration? Because I have a lot more unemployed candidates than I do, those that are employed, but looking for a change? (Yes)

So my next question was whether this criteria came from her own personal feelings, or if it was pushed upon her from above. (CEO's mandate).

My only response at that point was that I would send her the best candidates I could find, under those conditions, but that she shouldn't expect to be scheduling a lot of interviews. I also told her I'd be more than happy to sit down and explain it to her CEO, or provide her a letter, explaining how such a policy would probably keep them from finding the best candidates. She jumped at that, so I sent her a letter, explaining how "her" policy limited my ability to meet their schedule. She forwarded it to her CEO, and three days later, the limitation was lifted.
I have no doubt that the intention was still to favor employed candidates over unemployed. But at least I gave the best candidates an opportunity to sell themselves.
Eventually, they hired the boyfriend of the CEO's granddaughter! Should have seen that one coming, huh?
Comment by Chrisman Wilkey on June 22, 2010 at 11:05am
In almost twenty years of being involved in recruiting and human resources it continues to amaze me how inept and stupid some so called leaders can be. One wonders often how they arrived there.


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