Cherry-picking employers will pay the price for being too choosy

Competition for jobs is at a 14-year high and employers have never had it so good. So good in fact that they can afford to be selective and cherry-pick their ideal candidate based on competency, enthusiasm and experience, according to a new report published today. But in their bid to recruit the best talent available in the market it seems that employers are being overtly-selective to the extent that their indecision to make an appointment is costing their organisations in the long term.

The cost and time-to-hire has been a major consideration for all recruiters since time and memorial. Yet despite a wealth of talent at their disposal only 23% of recruiters claim that it is easier to find suitable candidates. Yes there are more applicants per job and of course this means more time being spent sifting through applications.

However, despite this, the report suggests that 3 out of 5 employers admit that this situation has enabled them to become more selective about whom they hire with 35% of employers saying that only the best people will suffice. Which is all very well but, while they adopt a wait-and-see policy it would seem that some employers will be the eventual losers over the long term in the war on talent. Clichés aside, those employers who are waiting for their ideal candidate to come along may be in for a long wait.

For instance, a well-know environmental organisation in Cardiff has been looking to recruit a public relations executive since March. With a plethora of willing and experienced PR’s capable of doing a sterling job this particular organisation has advertised in various recruitment media, employed the services of a number of employment consultancies and interviewed – and subsequently rejected – countless numbers of candidates. So why haven’t they made an appointment?

My guess is that they are waiting for their picture perfect applicant to make themselves known who ticks all the boxes. And while they deliberate their choices the workload for this position is being shared among the organisation’s existing staff who for their part, must be chomping at the bit in frustration at their employers lack of action. What image does this portray among the existing workforce? Surely the job of management is to, erm, ‘manage’ and make decisions, right?

By refusing to make an effective hire management are increasing the workload on an already hard-working staff. And they are setting a poor example by failing to take action. Not forgetting the poor PR job they are doing on themselves – if a company is seen to struggling to recruit for a basic level executive position this signal red flags to the job seeking community. Ironic, I know.

So does the perfect candidate really exist? Me thinks not but, there are great candidates out there who are more than capable of doing a grand job and more. In my opinion, any company that fails to fill an over-applied-for position for upwards of 7 months is not somewhere I would want to work.

About yourcareermatters
CareerMatters was founded as part of MacKenzie-Cummins Communications in 2006 by Paul MacKenzie-Cummins MICG (Member Institute of Careers Guidance), regarded as one of the UK's leading career's advice and guidance writers and specialist PR consultant for the UK recruitment industry. Since 2006 Paul has been the leading advice writer for and - the two biggest careers website in the world -tackling all aspects of workplace and management issues, job seeking, career change and hiring trends. In 2006, 2007 and 2008 his writing contributed to Monster winning the Best Employment Advice on the Internet Award for an unprecedented three times beating the likes of The Guardian, Learn Direct and Personnel Today on each occasion. And his work was a runner-up for the same award in 2009. In 2009 Paul was a nominee in the prestigious HR Journalist of the Year Award and Recruitment, Retention & Motivation Journalist of the Year Award. Paul has been commissioned to write more than 500 careers advice and guidance articles for a number of lpublications, from regional and national newspapers to industry publications and various career-specific websites in the UK and USA. Recently, Paul was the Technical Editor for career psychologist Dr Rob Yeung's Job Hunting & Career Change for Dummies (John Wiley & Son, 2007). Dr Yeung is better known as the TV psychologist for Channel 4's Big Brother and the BBC's Who Would Hire You? series. Clients include: MSN Careers (Europe) TheLadders TotalJobs IntaPeople Recruitment Lifetracks/YouthNET MediaSalesJobs The Press Gazette

4 Responses to Cherry-picking employers will pay the price for being too choosy

  1. Shannon says:

    I agree wholeheartedly! we are seeing that from high level vp positions to cost accountant (if you can believe). In my shop – we call this the purple squirrel – mentality, because the candidate can even “check” all the boxes for being the right squirrel, but because they feel there may be another, better candidate, clients are waiting for that “purple” squirrel.
    cheers –

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  3. Tim says:


    As a mechanical engineer, I find this notion of cherry picking to be troublesome. In engineering, no two companies are alike, unless direct competitors and then their semblances are likely few and far between. These companies require fresh ideas to make new and better products and improve upon existing ones. Checking ‘all the right boxes’ in today’s climate requires such a set of specialized experiences that while it may reduce the workload of human resources, it effectively narrows the talent pool as well. Engineering by nature requires ourselves to adapt to new problems and experiences.

    One example: A mechanical engineer position at a medical implant company has kept a position open for over three months. With the exception of the medical device experience, I can with authority check every other box including extensive knowledge of their CAD software, linear FEA techniques, years of experience, and understanding of exotic alloys. Without an ability to provide any more information than a text resume, it is frustrating to apply knowing that most likely a search tool will be used to sift through the results.

    Now it begs the question, is there anything an engineer could not learn or be up to speed in three months time? Unless it is a different field entirely (i.e. software or electrical) I would say no.

    Good luck to everyone else in the same boat.

    An example of being selective is a position at a local me

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