In a recent post of mine that drew some parallels between David Mimet’s Glengarry Glen Ross and recruiting, I included a section called “Selling to the Nyborgs.” This section addressed the importance of being able to identify candidates that will talk the talk, but won’t walk the walk. In other words, candidates who from a macro perspective look quite attractive, but in the end, after all of your efforts, you’ll end up right back where you started, and so will they because for whatever reason, this is a candidate you will never place. So how do we identify the difference between persistence paying off, and an exercise in futility? FONT>

Know When to Hold ‘Em

As the sayings go, good things come to those who wait, patience is a virtue, and where determination is, the way can be found. Not every difficult to place candidate is a “Nyborg.” Top notch candidates very rarely jump at the first opportunity presented to them. They are looking for the right opportunity, a recipe with equal parts money, job description, location, industry and culture. Unless you are offering a job as a shiatsu massage tester, or professional chocolate eater, there are a lot of reasons why your candidate may pass on the opportunity you are presenting. Most of us have a success story in our pockets about the candidate we persisted with for months, or even years that we finally put in their dream job. Giving up immediately is not an ingredient for success. Top talent will wait for the job that is in every way better than what they have, which commands patience and persistence from the recruiter. But how do we determine which ones to hold on to? Pay attention to what your candidates say as well as what they don’t say. If they tell you what they’d be looking for in a new opportunity, then that is your key, and when they waiver you can remind them of what they may be lacking in their current role that the new opportunity will provide for them. If they don’t know what their motivation is offhand, dig until you discover it – as this will be their biggest catalyst in deciding whether or not to accept a new role.

Know When to Fold ‘Em

It is important, however not to let the past success of perseverance muddy the waters of reality that most candidates have a shelf life. What that shelf life is, varies from candidate to candidate, and is determined by multiple factors, but if it’s been over six months and you are still treading water, it may be time to move on. In these scenarios, the candidate usually falls into one of three categories of “Nyborgs.” Either, the candidate is not serious about leaving their current opportunity, just perpetually “putting the feelers out there,” or they look good on paper but can’t quite put their money where their mouth is, or in some instances, this candidate burnt some bridges along the way which has caught up with them. Sometimes after investing so much time and energy on a candidate, we become reluctant to pull the plug, but knowing when to call it quits and move on is an important part of the job.

Know When to Walk Away

Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to move on entirely and never look back. Sometimes you just need to take a break, re-adjust, re-charge and re-focus your energy somewhere else for a period of time. Many companies enforce a Break in Service to their contingent workforce. In doing this, they are not necessarily ending the relationship with that employee, just taking a break. Though this is done for co-employment reasons and not utilized as a hiring strategy, as a recruiter, I have often found that taking a “break in service” from candidates can often help in placing them later. We’ve all heard that time heals all wounds, but also, time can help to manage a candidate’s expectations by giving them a realistic picture of what else is out there. It can also help the recruiter determine whether or not this candidate is a “Nyborg,” or serious about their search. At the very least, it allows a recruiter to take a step back, focus on some other things, and then re-connect with that candidate with the vigor and energy that will more likely bring success.

Know When to Run

The quickest way for a candidate to break my perseverance and send me running, is with dishonesty. If I provide all of the information up front including salary, address every concern, and pre-close the candidate to then have him decide he wants more money after an offer has been made at what was discussed and agreed upon ahead of time, it becomes a credibility issue for him, as well as for me with my hiring manager. If we’ve all been on the same page up to this point, and nothing has changed about the role, like say for example finding out that every morning before you log in to your computer you have to kill a puppy, then the salary originally agreed on is the salary. Likewise, if a candidate accepts my offer, then backs out after accepting, I turn around and run, don’t walk. Even though it may have seemed like progress at a certain point, in the end, these candidates were “Nyborgs,” and never serious about moving forward, which is a waste of your time to begin with.

We’ve all been a “Nyborg” in some capacity – window shopping, trying on seventeen pairs of shoes at Nordstrom’s but leaving with nothing, stopping by the neighborhood open house just to check out that craftsman with the water view and cathedral ceilings fully knowing it is about four hundred thousand out of our price range, or even just sampling the spinach and feta sausage at Costco in order to satisfy our appetite, not our shopping list. In any kind of transactional situation, this pattern is usually accounted for to an extent, but the key thing here is knowing when to draw the line. If I asked my realtor to show me the same craftsman thirty times, but never made an offer, she’d draw the line. If I returned to Nordstrom’s every day for a month and tried seventeen pairs of shoes, eventually the sales team would run and hide at the sight of me. And if I submit the same candidates time after time with no analysis of the viability of success, eventually, I become a “Nyborg” recruiter, only interested in going through the motions, but not truly doing what it takes to make the hire.

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Comment by Dean Da Costa on April 1, 2010 at 8:18pm
Cute, you a big Gambler and Kenny Rogers fan? Nice post.
Comment by Kevin Womack on April 5, 2010 at 11:03am
Great post. I look forward to more articles and pop culture references.
Comment by Pat Meehan on April 25, 2010 at 11:13am
Great blog post Mindy. It really hits on the importance od self awareness.



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