January 2: You’re hired. We love you.
March 2: EEK! What were we thinking?
Hiring regrets can be expensive. The mistake typically becomes evident in the first 60 to 90 days, often due to culture clash or a mis-match in expectations.
If you are the CEO presiding over an entrepreneural venture or a middle market company, why not learn from the experts in retained executive search? It’s a premium, high-level service – with an in-depth process that really works. Many make the investment for C-level hiring. But there are some principles that you can utilize for any level of new hire — whether you engage an outside recruitment firm or not.
Here are some insights that I shared with a NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners) Wise Council group:
#1 Pre-Planning is Important. Conduct an in-depth analysis of results you expect from the new hire — immediate priorities plus on-going benchmarks, needed experience and soft skills.
#2 Multiple Choice. Don’t hire the first person who would feasibly fit the role. The key tenet of executive search is presenting a panel of 3-5 fully-qualified, vetted candidates — each of whom could walk in and do the job. Then, the hiring decisionmaker gets to choose on the basis of chemistry, comfort and culture fit, the areas where new employees most often derail. You want to conduct a full exploration of the market.
#3 Money Matters. Research and establish a reasonable compensation package. If a candidate is in a completely different salary stratosphere, do not invest time in pursuit. Most companies set a target range and stay within their budget. If you are way below market levels, you may need to re-think your approach. You can’t get a Mercedes for the price of a Kia.
#4 Size Matters. Sometimes big company execs can scale down to a smaller, no frills business environment. Sometimes they can’t. Why take the risk? For finance, sales or operations roles, target those with a range of previous company revenue experience, including where you are today and where you want to be in five years. You want the track record of someone who has successfully scaled up to the next level of growth — with mastery of the processes that go along with a bigger organization.
#5 Get Specific. In planning the position and ideal candidate, create a list of must have requirements. Years of experience. Industry sector. Functional mastery. Size/revenue level of previous companies. Critical track record you want to acquire — i.e., rapid growth, access to new, established customer sets, migration to on-line selling, turnaround, etc. This is your focus for resume review, phone screens and in-person interviews – not to mention solicitation of candidate referrals from colleagues and associates. Only focus on candidates who meet the spec. This also provides a polite and truthful way of telling someone why they are not being considered for the role.
#6 Been There/Done That. A competitive market does not allow the luxury of teaching someone the nuts and bolts of a job. If you are spending time at that basic level, you are not at parity with competitors who focus on plug-and-play recruitment — selecting someone who can step in and immediately deliver the experience and expertise that will make a difference. You want to be spending time at a higher level of leadership and team development.
#7 A Job Description is a Press Release. It WILL get forwarded. Maybe to competitors. Your posting or position description is a mission critical document. It telegraphs information to your market. It can be a source of leaks, rumors, embarrassments. Alternatively, it can create positive BUZZ! Your goal is to have thoughtful and consistent messaging throughout the search. Recruitment is literally a marketing process, as you are selling your culture and business opportunity to the world!
New technology and communication platforms enable precision hiring in a today’s 24/7 competitive market. But it’s not a panacea. It’s a process. You still have to master the strategies and tactics of acquiring the talent that will catapult your company into greater profits and prosperity. You still have to do the work to find The Perfect Fit.
Great teams make great companies. Applying best practices in hiring will make a difference when you take the leap and add to your talent base.
January 7, 2012