Getting the budget signoff for senior leadership roles can be challenging at the best of times – but in their desperation to get the approval they need, line managers are sometimes overpromising what these individuals can deliver. When it comes to the actual recruitment process, they then find themselves going to market with a view of what the person will look like, only to find that the person doesn’t necessarily exist. It all comes down to understanding why you need that hire and what you expect them to bring to the company.
Not only do hiring managers need to be realistic on the deliverables of the role and what the incumbent can actually achieve, but they also need to carry out market diagnostics to understand the nature and purpose of similar roles in the market. Understand the end before you decide on the means.
From attraction to engagement
Attraction is only half the battle. Engaging top talent is just as important. Candidates are key stakeholders, advocates for your organisation in the market – whether you hire them or not. You need to sell the company to prospective employees in the way you would to your customers. A candidate’s initial experience of an organisation could be via an applicant tracking system or an online recruiter. Are all of these initial interactions equipped to effectively engage the candidate right from the off? For the process to end in a successful hire, they need to buy into the process from day one.
The way you have recruited previously will not necessarily work in this market, which is both candidate and client driven. Hiring organisations expect a lot of the talent they bring in – and these days, the expectations of potential hires are just as high. A hiring process is two-way.
Think about the candidate journey. Who is having that initial interaction with the candidate? They need to be able to engage the candidate, understand the role and sell the opportunity right from the start. It’s about taking the candidate on a journey – understanding their true drivers and motivations will allow you to keep them in the process.
Finding the balance
There’s a fine line between challenging candidates and putting them off. Candidates who are challenged and invested in the process are more likely to join the company than those who do not feel properly involved, or are bogged down in the number stages. I’ve known a recruitment process that took as many as 12 stages. If your process is too long, you risk losing the best people to the competition. There need to be several touchpoints throughout that process to keep them engaged and keep them on that journey.
What measures do you have in place to attract higher calibre talent in a market where the competition is also recruiting? Share your purpose with your candidates. Your commitment to CSR could reflect their personal motivations and candidates have even been known to take a pay cut to join responsible organisations. When you’re culturally aligned, that’s when you can achieve true symbiosis between your company and its people – when purpose and ideology are perfectly in tune. The primary contact point in your hiring process should make sure the individuals you’re looking for are culturally aligned to the organisation. People who believe in the organisation are more likely to stay for longer.
What does the perfect process look like?
Organisations who have recruited successfully in this environment have offered a dynamic and engaging process. Candidates have initially had a conversation with the HR team to understand the purpose of the role and the company strategy, followed with a 30-minute conversation with the line manager to ensure they’re aligned in their thinking. The same week, they have another conversation with the line manager and one of their stakeholders, then a psychometric test and an informal conversation with the line manager about their motivations, how they will fit into the company culture and be successful. They’re offered the role within a three-week period.
As a recruiter that prides itself on our relationships, it’s crucial that we understand our client’s journey and what they want in a new hire, so we will only ever engage people who are aligned with your requirements. You should treat potential hires with the same importance as your clients, as the value they will bring over their time with you will by far outweigh the cost of hiring.
Organisations are still recruiting as though it’s a candidate rich market, or as though their reputation will be enough to keep candidates on board. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. You and your competitors are all fishing in the same pool, and it is only by differentiating yourself through an engaging, challenging yet swift recruitment process, and selling your brand as well as the opportunity, that you will bring on board the talent you need.
If you need more advice on running an effective recruitment process or you’d like an informal chat about hiring the best senior talent, please get in touch with Gareth Paul.