Hiring Managers: Don't Confuse The Search With The Research

Knowing what you want is the necessary first step in getting what you want. This logic applies as much to the recruitment process as it does to many other aspects of life.

Despite the self-evident nature of this statement, all too often organisations conduct a search based on the premise of 'I'll know it when I see it'. Perhaps most alarmingly, the more senior the role, the more common this approach appears to be.

A long, protracted and ill-conceived candidate search can be extremely costly, both in monetary terms and the potential negative impact on your employer reputation - internally as well as externally.

So take the time to consider the exact nature of the role required. Starting from an 'ideal candidate' position will increase your chances of success, even if you have to make one or two compromises along the way.

Investing time researching and planning your exact resourcing requirements will go a long way in mitigating these risks. Ultimately, it will greatly improve your chances of securing the right person for your business.

Be clear in your hiring vision

Hiring the best people is probably the most important factor in any organisation being successful. But the best person for one business may not be the best person for another. It is only through adequate planning that you can identify what your company really needs.

Hiring criteria

Be clear on your requirements, where the role will sit, and consider any potential impact on internal structures and existing personnel.

  • What are the core requirements / job outputs of the role holder?
  • What do you want this person to achieve, initially and in the medium to longer term?
  • What is the salary banding and how flexible is this?
  • Who will the person report to? How senior is the post and who will report into them?
  • Who will they interface with in the business, both horizontally and vertically?
  • What skill set do they require? What do you need?
  • What amount of experience are you looking for? 3-5, 8-10, 10-15 years?
  • What recruitment process will be followed? Who will be involved? 

It is also helpful to divide the role requirements into essential and desirable elements. This will give you clear guidance on the areas you are willing to compromise on.

By going through this process when constructing the role profile, you will have a much clearer vision of what you want. You can then go to the market with a real strategic focus and engage with applicants in a much more straightforward and transparent manner.

When hiring, don’t let the market decide

Failure to research and plan properly can send mixed and confusing messages to the market. A lack of strategic clarity can deter the best candidates, while internally it can cause unrest among existing employees, e.g. will this new position impact on my role, is someone coming in over my head, am I vulnerable to redundancy, etc.

It can also prove confusing for you, the hiring manager. If your intentions aren’t set at the start, they are more susceptible to being influenced later. Again, don't use the search as a means for deciding what you want.

Work out what you want first.

It’s worth repeating: the search element of the recruitment process should not be used as a fact-finding exercise. Recruit based on what your business needs rather than what the market has to offer. Otherwise, you are essentially letting the market decide your company's strategy.

Circumstances do change, of course, and you may well need to revise your initial thinking depending on market conditions – after all, the perfect candidate doesn't always exist. Like life, recruitment requires compromise and a pragmatic nature, but solid research and planning will help rather than hinder any revisions.

Achieving recruitment success

A thorough research and planning stage increases the chance of success, the speed of recruitment and mitigates any negative internal impact. It will save you time and money, as well as enhancing your employer brand.

Ultimately, you need to ask yourself the question: ‘What does the successful candidate look like?’ If you don’t have an answer, then your chances of finding them are greatly diminished.


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