4 Ways to miss out on the Best Candidates

I have the honor to work with many firms as we assist them in finding the right fit for key roles in their firm.  This work is what I really enjoy and by doing so I get to work with some really outstanding people.

The purpose of this post is not to point the finger or challenge the thinking of any client I have now or have ever had.  What this post is really designed to do is to help others learn what NOT to do when they are conducting a search process.  This is not intended as an indictment or rant, but it is intended as a method to help others learn from my mistakes and the actions of others I have seen or heard about, or even worked with.

-Don’t have a clear indication of what you really want

When we work with a firm we try to spend a great deal of time on the front end talking to multiple people to learn more about the role that is to be filled.  This involves colleagues on all sides of the role, above, below and peers.  The more people we talk with, the more we learn.  This also gives us a clear indication of the firm.

There are times when a client may not have a clear indication of what they really want or need.  This is problematic.  When this occurs it means we get to spend more time in the search process as we calibrate or it means we get to do the search over when the client is not satisfied with finalists we provide.

It is better for a client to take a little more time to get it right.  Be sure to spend time with your search consultant so that a clear picture is painted of what the “right person’' looks like.

-Try to conduct your own search in parallel with the efforts of your search firm

This is always a head scratcher for me.  Consider this?  Would you hire a CPA to do your taxes and then also do them yourself to see who gets the best answer?  Would you hire a firm to landscape your yard and then also draw your own plan and then do the work again yourself?  I could go on an on, but firms often think they should conduct their own search process or hire 2-3 firms as contingency options when conducting a search.  By doing this it only promotes confusion for candidates and it is also challenging for the client because there is no true partnership when this occurs.  If you cannot trust the firm you hire to get the job done, find another firm.

-Provide little or no support for the hiring manager in the search

I have heard stories where firms would retain an outside search partner and then allow them to work directly with hiring managers with little or no experience.  In some cases the hiring manager might even not know what to look for or be somewhat afraid of brining in someone who is “too good” because that candidate might provide a challenge to them.  I encourage our clients to have a singular point of contact, but to also ensure that there are several sets of eyes seeing every candidate.  This multi-focused process makes it less possible for a search to end up in the ditch.

-Only interview candidates that meet ever criteria you are looking for

When we start a search we prepare a job specification that ends up being our marketing document for our networking and client recruitment.  This document is used as a guideline and not as the absolute guide for the perfect candidate.  There are some clients who might get hung up on ensuring that every candidate checks every box on a job spec.  This is a lofty goal and a sure fire way to miss out on candidates who come to the table from less conventional paths, but who are still great options.  We encourage clients to look at multiple criteria when they are viewing clients.  This allows them to weigh several options and it also helps candidates understand what is and is not critical in the search.

I hope these items have provided some insight and helped to provide clarity in the job search.  In an environment where the availability of candidates seems to be harder to find as the days pass we do our level best to give the best advice and counsel to our clients.  By doing so we hope to establish a level of trust in our work.

Happy Hunting!