Real World Example: The Logic Recruiters Use To Find Candidates

Real World Example: The Logic Recruiters Use To Find Candidates: "

Knowing how recruiters reason can help improve your chances of being chosen as a candidate.


This is a guest post by executive recruiter Todd Porter.

The following is a unique micro-perspective on the recruiting process as it applies to one specific search I’m currently working on (August 2009).

The classic recruitment problem

Hiring managers and job seekers often feel like they are being shortchanged in the recruiting process.

  • Hiring Managers see too many candidates that don’t fit what they are looking for, whereas…
  • Job seekers often feel that they are perfect and don’t understand why they aren’t being considered.

Have realistic expectations

Here is an e-mail I sent to one of our Israeli customers in Houston.  It explains why I had not been successful in filling a controller position.

This exercise had these goals as objectives:

  1. Explain the points we thought were important in the search
  2. Make sure the compensation range was right
  3. Explain our main problem
  4. Explain what type of candidates we are seeing
  5. Let our customer know we are NOT giving up

From the information provided, the customer can adjust the search criteria or they can decide they will try another method to fill the position.

The e-mail said:


I’ve been trying to analyze why the search for your Controller has been so difficult and why we haven’t been successful, “YET”.

I really don’t think the issue is compensation.  I think candidates with the skills you are looking for should fit into that (US) $70k to $85k base range, where you have asked us to search.

The trouble has been there are a lot of people that do not fit the profile.

If I condensed our interpretation of what you need/want in a Controller, I came up with these items:

  • Nuts and Bolts accounting (preferably with a CPA)
  • Small company as opposed to large
  • Main Finance person at that company
  • Must be a similar environment that relates to a your company (i.e. Manufacturing and Inventory)

I understand the environment of a ’smaller company’ that you want the individual to come out of.  I think the main problem is your COO’s point of reference is Israel, where there are 3,000 to 4,000 businesses.  Most of these companies are in the size (if not necessarily the industry) where an individual has to perform the type of position you are trying to hire.

I think the make-up of most (or a very high percentage) of the companies in the U.S. and Houston don’t fit this profile.  They are much smaller or very large.  On top of that, the vast majority of finance people don’t come close to the exact scenario you and the COO want.

First, most CPAs are probably going to have the wrong background with most just being Tax and Audit people.

Most large company Finance people or even Division Controllers aren’t going to have the breadth of Finance to do the GAAP, FASB…. type of accounting you need/want.

So, when we look for the types of companies and environments where these people live (or have lived), we then find them in these flavors:

individuals faking it and not performing, willing to move but you won’t want or need
just passing through and tough to land because of compensation
not motivated to move to another position
fully happy with what they are doing and nothing could get them to look other places
not working for the wrong reasons.  At best - caught in a situation of either the economy going bad or internal politics or company being bought

Our goal has been to find those Attached individuals where we can motivate and convince them to consider your position. We’re also considering individuals that are unemployed, if for the right reasons.

We’re networking through the financial community and have partners assisting us on the search.

To see if the financial people you are looking for exist, we have skimmed the Internet resume boards looking for the right combination of characteristics.  Few candidates come close to fitting the profile and none of them have hit the bull’s eye of the target.

On top of all this we still need to spread your desire to have an individual with High Energy, Maturity, Right Chemistry to fit the environment…..

I had to go through this analysis in my head (and writing it down here) to better understand why we haven’t found the person and maybe come up with a different approach to solve the problem.

I don’t want you to think this is impossible or that we are giving up.  The number of candidates is just very, very limited. We’re adjusting and looking for new ways of finding the right individual, as well as convincing them to consider your opportunity.

We will touch base early next week.


Test your expectations

Almost every individual I spoke to about this opportunity thought they could do the job.  Many told me they were perfect.  Some could have probably done the job but few would have satisfied our customer.

The information in the e-mail allowed me to measure individuals on all the points, to know if they hit the target and more importantly, the bull’s eye.


The week after I sent this e-mail, we sourced an individual that hit all the bullet points.  The customer quickly agreed and told me, “…background and experience matches our search criteria.”

The interview is set for next week.

About the author

Executive Recruiter Todd PorterTodd Porter started H.T. PROF Executive Search in 1997. Located in Atlanta and Boston, the company recruits primarily for Israeli companies hiring anywhere in the U.S.  He can be reached directly at TPJOB [at] HTPROF [dot] COM.

This article is part of the 3rd Annual JobMob Guest Blogging Contest. If you want Todd Porter to win, share this article with your friends.

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