What makes a “good candidate”?
As a legal recruiter of 15 years tenure, who has enjoyed phenomenal success as well as some missteps along the way, I can confidently answer this question.
Firstly, it’s important to note that the definition of “good” has many nuances and variations depending on the position for which the candidate is applying . Good can define technical legal skills, organisational skills, time management skills, relationship/rapport building, motivation, leadership, ethical considerations, capacity for business development, and professionalism, to name but a few.
Sometimes “good” can even refer to a candidate who brings something other than the direct skill set required, to the table, perhaps something relevant and necessary but not necessarily mandatory. For example, a property lawyer working for a property developer may not have the requisite experience for a private practise role, but they may have notched up many valuable years running deals and acquiring extensive knowledge and contacts in the field.
It’s also likely that my definition of a “good candidate”, may not be the same as another recruiter, HR Manager or Recruiting Partner (and thank goodness for that otherwise life would be very boring and easy indeed). I personally tend to look for soft as well as technical skills. I gravitate towards people who are genuine, pragmatic, and goal oriented. Those who have already formulated objectives of what why want to achieve and why. I also look for evidence that the candidate will be satisfied once we achieve our agreed objectives at the end of the process.
Overall, I believe a “good candidate” is a person who values the time they invest in themselves, as well as the time invested in them by others. I appreciate a candidate who knows their worth, just as much as I value someone who doesn’t knowingly waste my time or that of my clients. I am committed to supporting someone who is honest about their intentions at the outset, but I am not content to be partnering with a candidate when they are playing the field.
A “good candidate” is also someone who is prepared for the process, and who will put in the work required in a timely manner. As a starting point, they will have a draft CV ready to discuss from the outset and be open to considering my suggestions. They will recognise that I, as a seasoned recruiter am investing in them and expect them to reciprocate. They will respect the process, my time, my experience and my insights as much as I respect theirs. They will neither inexplicably or unnecessarily delay responding to me or my client, and they will endeavour to be honest and direct in our dealings.
In my opinion, a “good candidate” is not only someone with technical skills but also someone who is considerate, open and straightforward.