3 Steps to Finding Top Talent


Top talent group

Last week we ran a great post by Linda Gray, head of our new Non-Profit specialization group.  It spelled out the reasons why, if you are a Non-Profit, recruiting top talent is more likely to be successful handled by a Retained Search agency than a Contingency Search agency.  If you missed it, check it out here.

The post identifies services that specifically address challenges faced by NPs. But, as Linda points out, the retained search model overall creates advantage to any organization recruiting for the leadership team.

A ”best process”, though, becomes best when you understand how.  Here are three simple steps for ensuring success in executive search.

1. You want a partner, not a vendor.

This is not just another client-customer contract. To achieve the best result, you must become partners with your retained executive search firm.

The recruiting team you have just hired is bringing to the table specialist skills, knowledge and intuition that you don’t have. They look at things differently.

Don’t stay up late working on your description of who you want. The search pros will start further down the track and ask you what it is you need to accomplish.  They think like engineers: they need to know the desired end-state and then look at how they can get you there.

They will also help you see down the line.  Studies indicate 40% of executives fail inside the first 18 months.  The main reason is an issue of preparedness.  Like an iceberg, the biggest threat to recruiting success is unseen.  The term is “culture fit”; understanding, preparing and cultivating the right fit is perhaps the biggest contribution the retained search firm can make for you.

2. Recognize the right partner

Not all recruiters are created equal. Fortunately. Candidate search firms can offer similar skill and expertise but one will fit better and be more comfortable to work with. Remember, it’s a partnership you are looking for.

There are thousands of executive search firms and the best in the world are members of the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants (as are we). So, start here. The AESC logo is a respected and reliable indication that you are choosing to do business with an expert and trustworthy organization.

Your due diligence should cover basics. Does your talent pool need to be global?  Does the search firm have a track record in your business?  Is this a domestic position or cross-border? If the latter, who is managing it?  What is the search firm’s track record in your niche?  Average time to engagement?  Stick rate at 24 months?

Then there is that part of the iceberg under the surface.  Do these people understand you well enough to know who will fit in?  Do they really know your business? Are you comfortable with them?

George Bradt, a prolific contributor to Forbes Media, is famous for saying that there are only three job interview questions that matter: Can you do the job?  Will you love the job?  Can we work with you?

3. Understand your candidate

Don’t leave everything to your partner.  It is important that you, too, understand what is motivating the candidate.  You should know why she or he would choose you.

The more senior the position, the more personal the selection exercise becomes. The person you engage will be your peer, will have to fit in with the leadership team. He or she must be someone able to understand and share confidential aspects of management and leadership.

Trust is fundamental to a company’s corporate strategy because the employer-employee relationship is one of the most tangible trust-points in our lives. You and your colleagues must be satisfied that this is someone you can work with, someone you feel you can trust.

But also realise your candidate is no less concerned.

He or she is about to make a huge life choice that comes with risk.  A wrong placement can have devastating effect on a person’s reputation and career.  An illustrious career can suffer major setbacks from being hired into the wrong leadership positions.

Next Steps

Building a top-notch leadership team is rated by many organizational gurus as the most important task of a business enterprise.  A fundamental element is anticipation.

So, before the need arises, research the optimum path to attracting and securing the best talent in the world.  A good starting point is our e-book “Recruiting Top Talent”

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