Jobseekers have too high salary expectation: Anita Athena Ibru

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Anita Athena Ibru: Founding Consultant/Legal Minerva Recruitment Limited

Anita Ibru founded Minerva Recruitment Consultants, a leading recruiting firm, in 2004 recognising another bridge had to be created between discerning jobseekers and discerning employers.

Q: Job seekers are daily experiencing more misses than hits from recruiters. Why?

A: Well, it depends on what you mean by ‘misses’. Let’s call it ‘missed opportunities’ because I witness a lot of this. In my opinion, it is about timing. There is a common problem of windows of opportunities being missed because e.g.: Common Scenarios:-Client asks for Staff; however… Client is not quite ready at the time; then consequently… -Job seeker loses interest; or…Gets another job/moves location/decides to pursue a course instead of waiting for months to get their dream job. I would really urge clients to be really sure about the timeframe of their recruitment processes, even if it means chasing up the MD or whoever needs to approve the HR/recruitment budget.

 

“If Job seekers judged themselves fairly, honestly and most important of all realistically before responding to a vacancy it would make it easier for us to find more irresistible candidates.”

Another reason, this is controversial, the client can decide at anytime to ‘source for the candidate in-house’ therefore the vacancy no longer becomes available. This is because some companies offer commission to current members of staff to find more staff. This even happens at the likes of Goldman Sachs. I was offered such when I was an Intern, a ‘Reward’ for recommending good candidates/future employees.

Another Scenario: Foreign companies setting up in Nigeria and looking to recruit locally may have plans and a set Recruitment Target Programme…in an ideal world, fine. But once they get to the country they underestimate the time and delays taken in other factors like getting offices or licenses. This slows down their schedule and recruitment (though equally urgent as Human Capital is also an asset) can get the least attention and I have seen many times amazing candidate that clients actually like but ask them to ‘hold’ but there is only so much time they can wait so they move on! Ok the above is from the perspective of why candidates miss opportunities where they are very strong candidates who, in a smooth recruitment process would probably get the job.

 

“They aim too high, too high salary expectation, not equal to their skills or the job they are applying for.”

From another point of view, i.e. where the candidate is weak, here is why they face ‘misses’:

1.They aim too high, too high salary expectation, not equal to their skills or the job they are applying for.

2. They restrict their searches to the big firms, and don’t take into consideration start ups, as there is this impression that they may be ‘unstable’. There is that common fear of one man businesses and I believe I have seen very good potential matches where client wants to hire but at last minute job seeker changes their mind and does not give it a chance. They should trust their recruiters more, who are giving them a chance to get a good job. I say this as I am personally on the conservative side, and tend to not put people forward for interviews, just for the sake of it. When I do, even if it’s not obvious on paper, from knowing both sides, I will encourage the candidate to go for it. I have seen many ‘misses’ in this sense, missed opportunities.

3. They convince themselves, even the recruiters (and this happens both verbally to support what’s on paper) that they can do the job, but in the end they really can’t. If you are realistic, there will be less misses.

Q: Why do recruiters painfully restrict and limit their dragnet (Second Class Upper, First Class, Popular Universities, Foreign Degrees, etc)?

A: I disagree at this point in time with the above assertion. When I first went into business, five years ago now, yes there was a trend to recruit ‘candidates from the diaspora’ but right now my client are in fact saying overseas exposure/education is a plus but what they are really looking for is not only skills, but experience in Nigeria. In fact, they are more open to looking wider today. But of course, this is a universal trend – the world over, to hire/admit (e.g. including to University) – and everyone has to set targets and boundaries or the floodgates are endless and it is impossible to search so wide to find something so narrow. It is not out of ignorance it is just practical to set targets from a certain pool of ‘Resources’. That said, I think clients should listen to advice of recruiters in rare cases where they really push the boundaries and try to recommend something that is not ‘by the book’. They may even see something that will help the strategy for the purpose for which they are recruiting that they may not have envisaged e.g. Recruiters tend to be in touch with past candidates and see how they progress, where they ended up. They may even have exceeded the Recruiter’s expectations and fulfilled even more potential than expected.

 

“When I first went into business, five years ago now, yes there was a trend to recruit ‘candidates from the diaspora’ but right now my client are in fact saying overseas exposure/education is a plus but what they are really looking for is not only skills, but experience in Nigeria.”

Q: Why do recruiters consistently shortlist by falling victim to the “Nigerian Bug” of ‘judging books by their covers’ i.e. basing recruitment on paper qualifications and stereotyped tests?

A: That is easy, that means that they don’t go through the process of actually meeting the candidates. If they do like the look of a CV as it matches a job description, there is nothing wrong with initially being interested it is common sense, but the recruiter then has to interview/have a chat with the candidate for that job/future boss/company culture/location whatever is required and not just shortlist by relying solely on what’s on paper. I believe lack of time (or trying to rush a job) or being so relieved to see at least one person who looks good on paper (after maybe looking for months) can lead to this shortfall on the part of recruiter (perhaps understandably, but not justifiably so).

Q: What will make me irresistible as a candidate?

A: You mean irresistible to the Recruiter (at the pre shortlist stage?) Honestly, look at the job description and the skills requirement. If you really believe you are qualified and have the potential then you will be totally irresistible e.g. don’t apply for a job that asks for 10 years experience and then you only have 3, or an MBA and you only have a BA. I often get responses to adverts, and while I believe people should believe in themselves, don’t go too far overboard in your self-belief as it wastes time of Recruiters and we just think you did not read the specs well or you are having a laugh e.g. I get people applying to be top managers when they have barely 2 years experience. Unfortunately it is only once we have read your CV (and it takes time) before we know you are not irresistible. If Job seekers judged themselves fairly, honestly and most important of all realistically before responding to a vacancy it would make it easier for us to find more irresistible candidates. That said, self-belief is also an added plus e.g. you may not have the requisite MBA, but you may have clocked up enough on-job skills to match an MBA, so go for it!

Q: We hardly get any feedback. Are they on our side or totally on their “commissions” side?

A: This is something common, and unfortunately hard to control from all sides. What I have personally experienced is that e.g. there has been a lot of delay on a recruitment process and suddenly the client wants to play ball again and the Recruiter gets so tied up trying to make the placement happen and then it does happen and it all happens so fast, and it ends up being another candidate getting the jobs and e.g. one month’s work is done in a week and once there is a successful placement you the Recruiter are moving on to the next. I am not saying it is right, but at that time, the client is driving the pace. What I do advise is that the candidates should write an email asking for feedback if they don’t hear anything after the interview(s). If you don’t hear anything, it is very likely that not much feedback was given by client, except maybe it was a complete mismatch (which is rare from Minerva!).

Last Words:

I would urge Job seekers to try as many avenues to get a job. Not just via one agency, or one website, also apply in-house (though I always advocate agency-only recruitment of course!) but realistically, the best recruitment comes from a combination of strategies:

  • Placing adverts which generate direct responses
  • In-house recruitment
  • Online Job portal placements of vacancies
  • Word of Mouth
  • Headhunting
Nathan Jeffery