Have you used an online advertisement to recruit candidates for your own organization? Sometimes an error can prove to be a great way to find who to shortlist, and who to pass on.

We needed someone to join our small team, and we placed a simple online advertisement with a portal we have not used much before. We used another portal more often before but decided to try another.

We specifically mentioned that the advertisement had to use our copy to the letter and be anonymous. We wanted to present the entry-level position in as plain and as simple as possible without bias.

Unfortunately, this website did not follow our instructions at all, placing our corporate name and profile openly, and used some of their own template copy in our advertisement, which included such copy as “attractive pay and excellent prospects, etc”. By then, the advertisement was “live” and applicants started streaming in very rapidly.

These are lean times and there are many job seekers. The lure of “good pay” in that flawed advertisement copy did its job too well, sending many applicants our way, with many of those totally irrelevant (we mentioned Singapore citizens and permanent residents ONLY).

There were also many candidates from unrelated disciplines which did not fit in our entry-level role of public relations and social media at all.

I am not averse to taking in a bright upstart who is eager to learn and start building the foundation stones and grow along the way. However, many of these candidates asked for rather unrealistic salaries that had no correlation with their backgrounds or credentials or to the entry-level position we seek. To me, they might just need a stepping stone and yet demand an unrealistically high salary.

The lure of “high pay” is a revealing mirror, one that strips away many pretenses and help us uncover just what kind of candidates we may face. We nurture those who come our way who are serious about our practice areas, and we do desire them to succeed for the long haul. The best candidates tend to be those who want to grow and learn, are earnest and respectful, and allow their contributions and results to speak for themselves, and earn themselves not only the peerage and mutual respect, but the commensurate remuneration too – all in good time.

Let me perhaps illustrate what we all face today. The world is not doing well. The competition is fierce. The times are lean. And those who have the right work and life attitudes will eventually thrive.

PS – We did find a few whom we think are great for this role, and chose one.