Tom Sweeney

It's a coming of age tale….

Junior or Senior candidates: I’ll take senior…

Posted by sweens on June 3, 2009

When it comes to recruiting a role, most clients are dividing the level of experience they are looking for into three categories:

  1. Junior
  2. Intermediate
  3. Senior

When it comes to recruiting roles of different experience levels, a different challenge presents itself with each level you are searching for.  Me personally, I would rather take on the senior role over the junior role.  I would prefer the most difficult position a client is trying to fill over an entry level position any day.

The reason for this is not that there is a higher commission on the senior role, but rather that I find it extremely difficult to search and evaluate resumes for junior level candidates.  I do not know how many times a client has said “find me someone right out of school and I will take them”, but if I had a nickel for every time I heard that – I would probably have enough to make a quick run to Starbucks.

While the idea of finding someone right out or school seems easy, I have found it to be rather difficult for a few reasons.  Firstly, someone fresh out of school likely does not have a lot of technologies listed on their resume so they are less likely to turn up in searches.  Secondly, I do not think they have gotten used to the process of finding a job – posting CVs, using search firms, etc – so any online profile they may have is minimal and not easy to find.  Lastly, it is hard to evaluate their skill set when they are coming directly from school and to weigh them against other candidates usually becomes a personality fit rather then a focus on their technical skills.

Perhaps this is only my view, but this type of search takes me out of my ‘comfort zone’ and leaves trying to find different ways to track down these people.  Usually my greatest success has come from posting the position on job boards that new grads pay attention to like:

–         Facebook
–         Kijiji
–         CraigsList 

Does anyone else have this problem, or am I in my own world?

5 Responses to “Junior or Senior candidates: I’ll take senior…”

  1. Steve George said

    I think your blog looks great and the part I read is well put together. Good subjects and well thought out message.
    My issue with blogs is I rarely have time to respond so I don’t read many. Skim thru if the title makes me think it could help with my business. Like many I’m more in survival mode at the moment and spend almost all of my time on new orders or communication with candidates. Wish I could be of more help, but I’m already over my limit on time.

  2. Brian Davy said

    I tend to agree, at least on whom I would prefer to be placing, the entry level positions are always the hardest. I have found that it is not always locating the right candidate but the employer truly expecting to get much more than what they began a search for. It appears that they are conflicted, wanting someone in a lower pay grade, but not willing to accept the obvious lack of experience.

    Conversely, if they want a senior I can easily just find them a number of seniors of their category and submit them for review.

  3. I guess I’ll just echo everyone else’s sentiments. Junior placements can be really annoying. I’ve found the more senior a resource a client is looking for, the better an idea of what they’re looking for the client has. I’ll take that any day.

  4. Dan James said

    I read your blog and agree, to a point.

    In the 70s, for example, companies tended to hire folks with hands-on experience because they wanted managers who could hit the ground running, rather than those who had all the theory but zero execution skills. In bad economies, however, companies seem to abandon that principle and go for “cheap” talent, which is usually the “young and green.” Such practices come back to bite them later, and if the youngsters haven’t measured up by the time the economy recovers, they are often the first ones let go.

    In the 90s, the culture shifted a bit more, in that dedicated types who stayed with their employer until retirement, became less desirable than the more “directionless” types who flitted from one job to the next every year or so. Employers considered the “flitters” to have a well-rounded background, despite their lack of company loyalty. Flitters themselves paid the price, however, because most promotions and perks accrue after one has been with an employer for awhile, and the abilities are proven. Thus, flitters tended to remain at “entry level” through most of their careers.

    Since 2000, I have observed that companies are placing young flitters in management positions above personnel who have seniority. The question is: Why? The only logical answer is that they are trying to save money at the middle-management level; but I think it’s strategically stupid. Good managers need to have street smarts, indeed, but they also need to understand the inner culture of their company, and be fully aligned with the strategic vision as well as have hands-on tactical abilities. Without it, you have a rudderless ship.

    From the perspective of a job-seeker dealing with recruiters, I have had a mixed experience. In the 70s, 80s, and 90s, it was a seller’s market for experienced IT managers and project managers (like myself). They hired or contracted me because I had the hands-on experience and could be productive day-one. Since 2000, however, recruiters tell me how wonderful my resume is, and how ultra-qualified I am, yadda-yadda-yadda, and then I never hear from them again. When I inquire later, the client/employer has hired some young punk out of grad school (who’s probably never managed a real project in his/her life).

    It appears that, if 30+ years worth of experience is displayed on a resume, the perceived “age” of the applicant is a giant negative, despite the value and wisdom such a person can bring to an organization.

    Of course, I have no opinion on the subject!

  5. Staci Lynae said

    First of all, you get what you pay for. Of course, it’s usually not a good idea to voice that to your client!

    I’ve found that universities and tech. schools (and maybe community colleges?) have online job boards to assist their graduates and even current students with finding work. This was years ago, but I posted jobs at no cost to me on ASU’s online job search. Universities have Job Fairs.

    Also,,, and others advertise so much that I think everybody knows about them but you get tons of resumes that have more experience than the client is asking for, especially in this economy.

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