Know what you need and don’t set the bar too high!

Know what you need and don’t set the bar too high!

Setting the bar too high misses out on great people, wastes time and money and delays projects.

I share this story often when I am in consulting conversations with new clients or even new hiring managers.

Many years ago I encountered a classic case of setting the bar too high. The client I was working with was looking to recruit software test engineers and in fact was under quite some pressure to fill the roles but having been recruiting for 5 months they just could not fill the roles.

Now at the time the company was one of the big names on the Nasdaq stock exchange and quite rightly had a view that they only recruited the best of the best of the best! This, however, was part of the problem in this case.

It should not take 5 months to recruit 3 test engineers and in fact the impact of this was that the existing team was overloaded and starting to show signs of strain.

The edict from on high was that only candidates who had a 1st class degree in software engineering could be considered, even those with relevant commercial work experience in software testing. Much of the interview process was biased towards software engineering and design and possibly not so aligned to the test role. This came from a time of growth when candidates were plentiful, and the allure of the company could not be matched by most other employers.

However, the market had started to shift, and jobs were plentiful with numerous other strong companies hiring so candidates now had choices like never before. What we were finding was that the bar was set so high that only top of the range software engineering prospects were being offered the role and these people all preferred to take on a software engineering role rather than one in test, so the offers were being turned down. In the meantime, candidates who would be very interested and well aligned to test were being bypassed. So, when I joined as the recruiter I was able to review what was going on, and through a meeting with the hiring manager we agreed to change our sights slightly to focus more on people currently in test regardless of their degree and to focus on the aptitudes for test within software development more than pure software development. The hiring manager was quite open to this but had been given a bit of a wrong steer by senior management who had drawn on their experience of recruiting for smaller less function specific teams.

I reworked the vacancy and provided a shortlist of 12 candidates from which 8 were interviewed 4 were 2nd interviewed and 3 were offered and started. Importantly they were able to get up to speed quickly helping to reduce the pressure on the existing team which aided retention of those staff and clearing through the projects. Not to mention the clearing of a significant headache for this relatively new manager.


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