Our Executive Search Methods
A project has two components, candidate identification and then
To identify candidates, client specifications are a starting point. Many of the positions that we fill are newly created functions in a client’s organization. Because of that, there is no incumbent to provide a template to guide in specification development. We can help with that. We know the market and we know what skills are industries are transferrable and which ones are not.
I remember a client who once wrote such very restrictive job specifications that the only people who could fit already worked at the company, literally. It was analogous to a spec from the only company in the world that made super-gizmo widgets requiring experience in a company that makes super-gizmo widgets.
We want you to have realistic specs that will allow you to hire
a high-quality person who can do your job.
Once we understand the specs and culture, we begin
contacting potential candidates.
We assume that you want to hire a person who will stay in your company for a long time.
Our database is huge. It’s unique in our industry for two reasons. One, we keep files on every person and every company that crosses our desk. The breadth of information is enormous. Over the years, we’ve literally accumulated the names of entire departments in some companies and know almost every potential employer in the region.
I also pay a retainer to a “sourcing” company whose sole job is to gather names and fill out organizational charts of local employers. In other words, we keep files on everybody. A lot of people will hear about your job. This is good because a larger selection helps you.
But, I think the second unique characteristic of our database is more important. Our files are deep, not just broad. In other words, we keep track of every conversation and add it to our file. Having a lot of names is a great tool but we also use the database to help you in the selection process. That’s of great value to you. It helps you avoid mistakes. Here is how.
Both the skills and cultural/career goals must align.Skills should show up in the interview/references but cultural and career goals are transient. They can naturally change over time. Of more danger, however, are the candidates who tailor them to each interview and situation.
Without a deeper history of the candidate than a resume/interview, you have no way of evaluating what the candidate really wants and whether they really fit.
How often have you interviewed someone who acted very pleasantly and courteously in an interview only to find out that they became Attila the Hun once employed?
There are people with two personalities; one for the interview and one for life. This is where deep files can come in very handy. We gather information about candidates over time. It’s not a snapshot. It’s a movie. Here are a couple of examples.
Applying Recruiting Strategies: Scenario 1
You are doing organizational succession planning. You want someone for a Product Manager job who will rapidly be promoted to a more senior supervisory role. You need someone ambitious who will sacrifice quality of life while you train them in the intricacies of your industry and company, preparing them for a big promotion. You have an aggressive environment.
A candidate appears who looks good on paper and who says the right things in the interview. He says he’s aggressive and ambitious and is prepared to work 70 hour weeks. Super! But here is what you may not know about him.
Our records may show that we have spoken to him 3 times in the last 5 years about jobs. He blew off the first opportunity 5 years ago because “it might interfere with his side business as a wedding DJ.” He said no to the second opportunity because it was 30 minutes from home and his current commute was 20 minutes. He didn’t want to add 20 minutes to his workday with a longer commute. The third opportunity, 4 months earlier and before he was laid-off, he dismissed because there was no flex-time for him to use for his son’s soccer games.
These are all valid reasons BUT you are seeking someone with clearer priorities for a unique job. The last thing you need is to make a huge investment in someone who, 6 months later, may decide that he wants a more comfortable life and needs to re-focus on personal issues and limit his work week to 45 hours and who, by the way, wants to know when can he start working from home?
That is a real-life example. We shared that info with our client along with the resume and they were able to probe a little bit deeper into his motivations.
Once they challenged his level of commitment to the job, it became pretty clear that his words were just rhetoric designed to get him back in the work force after a layoff.
Applying Our Recruiting Strategies: Scenario 2
Another true story. Imagine a company with a very matrixed organization that requires the ability to work with many different types of people. Courtesy is a very important tool for them. They interview a very friendly fellow who says and does all the right things; strong handshake, eye contact, thank you notes, etc. He even tells them that he works well on teams.
Here is what they didn’t know. We spoke to him twice in the past year. The first was after he sent us a resume responding to an ad. When he was called for a discussion, his wife answered the phone and screamed at the recruiter, “Don’t bother us. My husband has a job.” She then hung up before the recruiter could explain. He never responded to emails asking him to call back.
Six months later, we tried him again for a different job. We had a good conversation and
set him up for an interview. He cancelled the interview with one hours notice because, “He just got a raise.”
We never placed this fellow in a job. This all came to our attention when the company that eventually hired him called us to fill the job after they fired him. He was fired because he turned into a fellow who was an ultra-aggressive Type A personality.
He could only function in a team if he was the leader. When they told us about the experience, we looked him up in our database. Clearly, he was not the right person for them.
None of this information should, by itself, eliminate a candidate. When properly used along with our rating system, it illuminates potential conflicts. I call them “disconnects”. When the interview and outside behavior
does not match, that is inconsistent. We hate inconsistencies. Of course, everything is subjective. Sometimes, the person has matured and changed over time. But sometimes our concerns are validated. This information should serve as an early warning system to a company and point out areas to explore in a
Also, sometimes the information we provide is positive and reinforces already strong opinions about a candidate. In those situations, your decision
All of this is what a recruiting firm SHOULD do for you. Sadly, most do not. They don’t because either they can’t or because they won’t. They can’t because their internal structure is not set up correctly. They won’t because the only trigger to their compensation is to be the first person to provide a resume that crosses your desk. After that, it’s all smoke and mirrors.