Many of us would have started out our recruitment life as candidate managers/sourcing specialist/talent finders or any semantical variation of the former. It’s a tried and tested path trodden by many a recruiter with airtight logic; learn the market from the candidates. As a junior consultant, there is an obvious aversion to asking a client to break down an acronym or some subject-specific lexis because it goes against our consultant commandments “thou shalt faketh till maketh.” Mr. Candidate is a much better sounding board to ask day 1 questions to as he/she needs you to find them a job! They will endure a chorus of questions fielding back crucial information on not only the market as a whole but where they have interviewed and reputations of firms amongst the industry professionals. Before long, you have mastered your destiny, informing candidates of latest trends, delicately adding to the word on the street with confidence, receiving referrals from placed candidates.
Then it happens. In a systematic decision similar to when you take an agencies top biller and think “that ruthless borderline sociopath will make an excellent leader!” we pluck CM’s from a comfortable embryotic sack, not unlike Neo in the human farm from the first Matrix and instruct them to go and develop business. It’s a scary transition as you just feel as if you are finding your feet and in a change of focus you are balancing the egos of clients with the expectations of candidates. I have seen this transformation happen with ease in some cases and in others it can overwhelm consultants. The problem with having people cut their teeth in candidate management that it is viewed as the entry-level position, the first phase of an evolutionary journey as if a senior consultant is the Charizard to an associates Charmander. But is that exact thinking that has caused a huge void in the current market.
The comparison I always give to emphasize the candidate shortage in NZ is that London has a population of 8.1 million, New Zealand has 4.7 million with reports of hitting that 5m mark by the end of the year. Out of those 4.7 how many are .Net developers or Chartered Surveyors? An even smaller pool of candidates emerges. With such a shallow candidate pool it stands to reason that the person with good relationships with a network of sought-after candidates is essentially the guy with fuel and toilet paper in a zombie apocalypse. This is especially true in the ITD industry with experienced well-networked candidate managers being worth their weight in gold!
So, what do we need to do to ensure a steady flow of candidate managers in the market? I think first the perception of the candidate manager needs to change. No longer should we perpetuate the idea that CM’s are positioned next to the caped crusader in the sidecar of recruitment. Not to position myself as the voice of the voiceless but they also need to be properly remunerated in a fair and proportionate way. Potentia IDT has catered a commission model that is focused on activity instead of the end result. The thinking was that a lot of the process is out of the CM’s hands, having to trust the consultant to close the deal in order to receive their bonus. This can be potentially problematic and leaves the door open to frustration. A lot of us work in candidate short markets where bringing in a job isn’t the difficult part.
We place a lot of emphasis on the ability to BD which in reality isn’t the crux to the deal, the candidate is. For some their skill set falls firmly on the candidate side and we should encourage and applaud that. I don’t possess the inflated sense of self to think that my wee blog will inspire industry-wide change and reform but just to put things in perspective; if I am working with a senior Candidate Manager with an established network and a history of consistent fee generation then a salary expectation of $80K-$90K is being realistic, considering there is bonus’ to be earned on top of that we may see more of a drive from consultants that want to remain in a CM role, fingers crossed anyway, it would make my life easier!