I have recruited for some of the top companies in the third party recruiting industry. 

And no matter what company it was, upper management loved their buzzwords – “Forward Thinking”, “Deep Dive”, “Manage Expectations”, “Synergy” – the list goes on and on…

I don’t disagree with all of them that are out there, sometimes you really just can’t find a better phrase to describe your thought process.

However here is one we need to throw away right now: “Candidate Control”.

In fact I petition that not only do we throw this term out, I think we need to start fining people for using it.

What is candidate control?

First let’s look at the word – it’s pretty simple, the first word “Candidate”, the second “Control”, literally meaning you have control over the candidate. Managers use this term to justify coming down on you the recruiter for a mistake the candidate made. I can’t recall exact situations where this has happened to me, but I do know how the conversation went anytime one of my candidates messed up:

“You know Chadd, you really should have had better candidate control on this one.”

Candidate shows up late for an interview? Candidate Control

Candidate lies on their resume? Candidate Control

Candidate falsifies education experience? Candidate Control

I do agree that we should limit these issues because recruiting can be a pretty expensive service; however, to think you can control another human being is almost laughable.

Ask any parent with a toddler – see how much “control” they have in the house. The same goes for candidates! They are going to act, think and handle situations how they see fit. If you assume you have control over your candidate you need to re-evaluate things, and fast. And if your manager uses this term to you, I think it is in your best interest to challenge them and their position in the company.

But this article is not written to complain. I always say if you have a problem with something you better come to the table with a solution. So I present the industry with a resolution to this issue.

Candidate influence:

I would like to officially coin the phrase: “Candidate Influence”.

Candidate showed up late for an interview? Did you send them the exact address and tell them to arrive 15 minutes early? If you did not, then yes that is your fault. If you did and they still showed up late, minus you physically driving them to the interview yourself, you did all you could.

Candidate lied on their resume? Did you check references and verify the information? If not, again shame on you. If so, shame on them.

And so on and so on.

It is our job as a recruiter to do our due diligence with our candidates. If you aren’t talking about money, job location or any other major factor that will ultimately play a role in a candidates decision making process from the first time you meet them than you are not doing your job. We compile all of this information so we can influence the candidate’s decision. At the end of the day a candidate will make the decision that is best for them and there isn’t much we can do about it if it doesn’t agree with what we want. But if you know your candidate wants 65K, a 15% Bonus and a 20 minute commute, then you should be able to play a major influencing role in the decision that the candidate makes. Hence, “Candidate Influence”

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Comment by Matt Charney on December 10, 2014 at 4:26am

Chadd: Great post, but do people actually say this? It seems if you assume you can control candidates, you lead quite a blessed recruiting existence. Most of the time, it's the other way around :)

Appreciate your insights and expertise as always. Keep the good stuff coming.

Comment by Chadd Balbi on December 10, 2014 at 8:35am

This phrase is more common than you think and it surprises me people can feel this way. Thanks!

Comment by Linda Ferrante on December 10, 2014 at 12:37pm

I remember this phrase.....I looked at your profile on LI, Chadd, and saw you are an Aerotek alum, as am I.....

I learned the 'basics' of recruiting when I started out, but a lot of the common sense stuff I either knew, or learned as I grew as a recruiter.  The reason I mention this is because the first time I heard 'candidate control' I was FLOORED.  How on earth can I 'control' someone else's behavior?!  All I can do is provide them with enough information to make an intelligent, well informed decision.  As far as the 'control' part...well, wouldn't that be lovely.  To be honest, however, I am not sure I'd want to hire people I can 'control'.  I don't think that's in the best interest of our clients, either!

Interestingly, one of the things we tell our clients is that while we can control many things about the recruiting process, the one thing we simply cannot control is the candidates themselves.  Providing we do our due diligence for each candidate we select, our clients know the candidates employ free will and life happens.  Fortunately, we have had very little (only once instance in the past almost three years) problems with this!  

Thanks for blogging about this, Chadd!  

Comment by PAUL FOREL on December 15, 2014 at 1:24am

Chadd, you are suffering with a misunderstanding-

"Candidate control" is a necessary facet to the business of executive search/the employment agency business but the confusion that exists here is that none of the cause and effects you describe have anything to do with candidate control as it was originally taught.

Candidate control has nothing to do with controlling a recruit's behavior. Somewhere between 'back then' and now, the true meaning has been lost, I guess.

Comment by Chadd Balbi on December 15, 2014 at 8:25am

I'd be interested to know your take on its true meaning, Paul

Comment by PAUL FOREL on December 15, 2014 at 9:22am

Hi, Chadd....

Let's just say that in its best form, candidates don't blink without checking with me, first.

They don't apply for other jobs behind my back, they don't send resumes out on their own and basically we move as one.

If a headhunter can't control his/her recruits, s/he should drop them since while we are zigging, they are zagging.

Nothing good can come from that.

Candidate control means the recruit/candidate has total trust in us and lets us do the driving. An example of that is having a recruit who cruises the job boards, sees something appropriate and sends it to us for processing.

That is a partial list of examples of what is considered cc.

Those examples you described are paper-thin and are not worthy of conversation, Chadd; they remind me of the old days when secretaries were coached to not cross their legs or chew gum and the interview prep was based on conversations about one hundred and ten over one hundred and went no further.

We need to elevate the conversation to where it belongs. You serve yourself in doing so and you serve the candidate.

And I don't need to be reminded this is all more achievable in the executive search business than the employment agency business. Believe me, I know that already which is why I am in search where I recruit mature professionals who are capable of placing their trust in me versus working in the agency business. You who work on the agency side have a much tougher role to play with regard to cc and I don't envy you in the slightest.


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