Challenges: Slow Walking the Search Process

I’m the first one to advocate the proper vetting and “face-time” with a candidate and their prospective new employer. It is vitally important to those sitting on both sides of the table. But I think there are some boundaries that organizations must follow to avoid losing a GREAT candidate to analysis/paralysis.
Question: How much “face-time” is required to give both the candidate and the employer a chance to assess their ‘cultural fit” with the organization? Some hiring managers want the new recruit to meet with peers and other managers or executives in a single pre-offer visit before making a decision while others want the candidate to meet serially with different members of the organization, involving candidates making multiple trips, adding additional costs to the organization while creating serious risk factors in the search process. How much is enough?

When a search firm is hired to conduct a senior level search – they also conduct their own vetting process in an effort to create the best match to the specifications of the job. The client should have multiple highly qualified candidates to choose from and matching “cultural fit” should be fairly straightforward. So why take a process and make it more complicated? I don’t get it.

There seems to be a false sense of security in this labor market that slows the search process to a painful grind. The HCIT market – while not insolated from the overall economy is about to experience explosive growth. I’m not suggesting that you should shorten a normal search timeline. I would never suggest that to any of my clients. However, if you find the ideal candidate that can get the job done, add value to the organization and has the ability to integrate with your existing team – Make a decision. Before the market heats up – pull the trigger, start the on-boarding process and let the new hire get started.

I think Lincoln (I AM A HUGE FAN) said it best – ““Good things come to those who wait but only the things left by those who hustle.” Abe was right!

Pitfalls of Taking a Shortcut

It never ceases to amaze me how some clients or prospective clients expect immediate results in the search for new executive level talent. Recently I spoke with a CEO that told me in a phone conversation “I need this senior level search completed in three weeks”.

What?

The conversation did not last long. We always set expectations that are in line with reality and it’s not always what hiring managers want to hear. Our process usually (90% of the time) takes 8-12 weeks from the time we sign the engagement letter to the day the new employee commences work. If we set an unrealistic expectation in an effort to make a quick fee – we have to live with the results of trying to expedite the search process. The results can be…well not very good. That’s not what we get paid to do and I want no part of sending half-baked candidates into the line of fire. It’s not fair to the candidate, the client or the firm and in general – it’s just not a good plan.

Our process includes going through multiple “touch points” with each candidate to validate their skill-set, experience and real motivation for their interest in making a move. That takes time. This includes multiple conversations by phone, in depth interviews written feedback from the candidate, video interviews, psychometric testing, reference and background work and a whole lot more! Skip any of the steps in the process and you have a real train wreck in the making. I can almost predict the outcome if we attempt to meet an unrealistic timeline just to deliver A candidate that has not been fully vetted. I’ve seen the movie a time or two. Not interested. Nope. As a candidate, you should be very suspicious of any search consultant that attempts to convince you that their search assignment is a 2-3 week engagement and unless you “jump in” you will be missing something big. What? What you may experience in dealing with an abbreviated search process is wasting a lot of your valuable time. Who needs that?

As a client what you will not be getting is a slate of highly qualified and motivated candidates that thoroughly understand the position profile, the culture of the organization and a real sense as to why they are qualified to do the job. What you may get instead are candidates that are ready to jump because of reasons unknown or worse- non-performing B-players. Without the proper vetting cycles we may not be able to uncover all of the details and validate their background, previous performance history and a whole of host of other key elements we learn about in the search process. Again, who needs that?

So I think you get the picture here. I made up my mind a long time ago that I do not want to conduct a search assignment unless we have the chance to do it right! As hard as it is (especially in this economy) I actually walk away from many search assignment if the client has unrealistic expectations. It’s a lose-lose-lose proposition. The candidate – the client and our firm all lose. It makes no sense to me to deliver a service unless I can do it the right way and deliver real value.
I’m just guessing as a candidate – that’s what you want as well. Right?