Inside the Red Zone

OK – up front – this is a rant! The things that happen in this business rarely surprise me, but they do make me take pause and ask a few questions. Executives hire search firms to find the talent they can’t source on their own, conduct a precision search for a purple squirrel, or perhaps attempt to hire away superior talent from a competitor. Regardless of the mission, the search firm (if they’re worth their salt) follows a defined process from start to finish. This includes the profiling, sourcing, interviewing, coaching, negotiating and closing the candidate, and delivering a signed offer letter. It’s been proven to me time and time again that the last mile or the offer are the most sensitive and critical elements of a search.

I recently worked with a hiring manager who somehow developed amnesia when it came to the final steps in the process – when it was time to deliver and negotiate the offer. She felt so strongly about this step that we were essentially excluded from the entire offer process. There’s a reason we’re active in a search until the end. We do this for a living and have seen this movie over and over, and can detect dissatisfaction or hesitation from a candidate as they approach the finish line. Hiring managers should allow their search partner to do their job and be that trusted 3rd party to ensue everyone has a successful outcome. Being on the outside looking in, wondering what’s happening is no place to be at the end of any search assignment. Candidates have built trust – a rapport – with that person who convinced them to consider interviewing in the first place. Taking that trusted advisor out of play at the most critical part of the search makes no sense to me at all. Nope. I just don’t get it, and I never will.

I really enjoy working on an engagement from start to finish or until the final whistle blows. That’s the way I’m wired, and quite frankly, I can’t determine the outcome unless I’m involved. It’s not an ego thing for me at all – just a proven process we recruiters follow every day in our business. It’s sort of like asking a football quarterback to sit on the bench once he drives his team 80 yards (all the way down the field), and it’s time to score. Now, really, how smart is that? Take the guy who drove the offense to the red zone and then ask him to sit down? C’mon! Not me. I want to work each engagement from start to finish.

Once the whistle blows, I’m happy to sit on the sidelines – but not until we score!