Our industry used to be governed by the 6 Degrees of Separation, click here for more information on a very interesting concept.
Basically, everybody could be connected to everybody else through 6 well chosen links. Look at how many second and third level connections that you have on LinkedIn to prove the concept. In fact, Facebook and LinkedIn would be out of business if the concept was not practicable.
Ironically, as recruiters have become better connected via social media and as electronic communication has become more scaleable we’ve now had to compete with corporate recruiters who have the same tools available to them.
So should it come as a surprise when ABC Company says “I’m looking for a unicorn” or “I’m looking for a purple squirrel”. As recruiters we love to use the term to look down our noses at clients who are looking for the candidate that doesn’t exist.
But think about it. If they were easy to find, we’d be out of work. And if you can’t find the difficult to find, then you should be out of work. Recruiter fees are not inexpensive, as I say to my clients “you’re paying for my failures”, working on contingency my fees have to be high, I’m not 100% successful and I have expensive tastes. So surely it makes more sense to earn the fee and to operate at a level that befits the fee, that is, act like a consultant and consult.
The client is not calling you to place a graduate trainee.
You don’t get a job order, you get a request.
It’s your job to identify the request as one for a purple squirrel and suggest to the client that by changing such and such, the squirrel is now grey. Maybe it still has purple paws but at least you have a fighting chance. And if they’re insistent on the hard and fast spec then offer it up on a retained search basis. But if you want to take orders go and work in McDonald’s, this isn’t an orders business.
So what will happen if you engage on those more challenging searches? You’ll outlast your competition. Everybody else will move on to the next low hanging apple while you dig deeper beyond the first and second level. And you’ll fill those jobs.
The alternative is to keep moving on to the next easy recruit. The trouble is, we all know what they look like and we all want to chase them. So we all do and it becomes a lottery. An effective strategy is to hang in on the unicorn hunt for a while and then start consulting once other recruiters have lost interest.