For whatever reason, people don't tend to appreciate the things in life that take little or no effort. Think about the lucky kid whose parents bought him a brand new car for his 16th birthday - did he treat it with half the respect you had for the 1962 clunker you spent your life's savings on? Probably not.
Whatever it is, most people have a greater appreciation for that which takes some work to achieve, be it a possession or a new job.
When I think back to the hires I've facilitated, both at an agency and in my current role, the candidates that had the most drama during the process usually turned out to have the best longevity. The candidate had more job satisfaction, did better work, and stayed in the role or with the company for longer than those who landed the job with relative ease.
Not so coincidentally I have a theory about this.
The more I get to thinking about it, the more it makes sense. If a candidate sticks with it through any of the innumerable mishaps that are made possible by dealing with people as a product, chances are it is because they badly want the job. While this could be due to unemployment, it could also be a dream role, a targeted company, a much needed career change, an exciting new technology to work on, and the list goes on. Each person has his or her own reasons for searching, and having the perseverance to work through a few sticky patches will make the reward of getting the job that much sweeter. Whether or not we consciously think about it, good recruiters must somehow instinctively know this.
After all, why else would we ask tough closing questions? Why tell a candidate that the scope of the job has changed slightly? Why admit that the bonus amount had to be cut a bit? Why tell them the location changed and the commute will be double what was anticipated? On one hand, because we need to keep the candidate abreast of the situation, but on the other, to test them a little. If the candidate runs off at the first sign of trouble perhaps it is for the best. We know there is no such thing as a perfect job, and once the honeymoon phase is over with the new employer a decision will have to be made - stick it out, or pack up and move along.
Chances are, the ones who had to run the recruiting gauntlet to get the job will dig in and stick around much longer than those who had a cakewalk.