How to recruit A List candidates not C List

Hiring is always hard.  One of the hardest jobs within a company is recruiting and hiring the right people.  It was really hard when the economy was doing well, but it can be even harder when times are tough.

Before anyone falls off their chairs in astonishment at this bold assertion, we mean it!  Recruiting in tough economic times can considerably harder than when times are good. In a downturn, the amount of resumes from C List candidates massively increases, whereas the amount of resumes from the A List will remain the same.

Firstly, assuming you always try to hire A List Candidates because they are just so much more productive than B and C List (an ‘A List’ is productive, smart and  has that ‘it’; the movie star factor).  This means that you will not settle for people who are good but instead hold out for people that are great.

Great people – the A-List – are a very different breed from the good (B List) and not so good (C List).  Great people are more likely to be employed with a company since a great person can be over 3 times as productive as a good person.  A study at Yale in 2007 found that the fastest students finished their workload as much as ten times faster than the slowest students (average was 3-4 times faster).

The (Un)Employed A List Candidate

In troubled economic times, anyone can get laid off, but a disproportionate number of layoffs tend to fall on C List Candidates.
This is because they are usually the lowest performing people in a company (and sometimes the highest paid) and there generally are more C List candidates at a company than any other.  Most large companies are chock-full of C List Candidates.

A smart company would (or should) never lay off a great person unless her/his job function is eliminated.  For instance, if a smart company had to lay off one of two members of staff with one being an A list and the other a B List, it will very likely lay off the B List employee and retain the A List employee. Again, this is the logic that smart companies should follow.  Then again, there are many dim-witted companies that lay off their A List Candidates for odd reasons and so you’ll find some great people out of those laid off.

Where to find that A List Candidate

Some A-List Candidates are less likely to be looking to jump ship during tough times due to job security or financial reasons.  They are happy where they are and more likely to work harder in tough times.  On the flipside there are A List candidates that are more likely to leave.

Tough times often push companies into a corner and force them into routine mode rather than innovation.  A Listers like to innovate and usually NEED to innovate.  It’s usually very hard to keep these type of A List Candidates caged-up and thus this presents a big opportunity for recruiting.

It’s also worth noting that A Listers are often first to leave sinking ships.  They don’t feel they need to stick around for a severance because they are confident they can always get another job.

A List type people are just really hard to find.  Let’s say for sake of argument that A Listers -players make up 1% of the population that could do the job, B-List Candidates are 19%, and C-List Candidates comprise the other 80%.  It’s uncertain if these percentages are accurate, but there definitely are more C-List Candidates than B-List Candidates and more B-List Candidates than A-List Candidates.

If people find out that you are recruiting it probably means you are going to get a massive influx of CVs from C-List Candidates. Many of these resumes will be indistinguishable from those of A-List Candidates (it’s often hard to distinguish on paper).  It’s important to screen for A List Candidates in order to get rid of all the dead wood applying.

Unfortunately, it is really hard to tell the difference between an A-List Candidate, B-List Candidate, or C-List Candidate just from a CV.

Which means you need to engage with candidates and therefore you’ll have far more candidates to deal with given this economic climate.  My guess – for a standard job announcement, you’ll have three times the number of C-List Candidates applying, twice the number of B-List Candidates, and the same number of A-List Candidates. 

One way to decrease the number of applicants and thereby increase the amount of quality is to specifically target candidates rather than to post a job ad.  If you register the vacancy with an agency we can identify A List candidates and keep the C List Candidates away from your organisation, saving you time, money and effort. The amount of telephone calls and enquiries that each vacancy can generate in a downturn can be overwhelming to any size of business.

Be sure to fill your company with only A-List Candidates and thereby creating your own A-Team. – legal recruitment specialists.