Why your recruitment strategy for hiring senior staff sucks

Like most businesses, you want to grow. This growth plan is a mixture of organic building and investing in hiring externally. Ideally, a person with a strong experience, who is a perfect cultural fit for your business.

So you meet with a recruitment consultancy who spend hours with you, understanding your business, and getting a very clear picture of your need and then provide you with a proposal. The proposal’s recommendation is to search.

For roles where there is a clearly defined and scarce resource required, search is a very sensible and effective approach. The consultant and their researchers can spend the necessary time mapping the market, approaching the right people, interviewing them and then selling them you, your business and the opportunity therein.

What goes horribly wrong is when the consultancy makes this recommendation and you say to them “yes, we hear what you are saying but we don’t want to invest up front in a lengthy process. We are going to wait and see what our other irons in the fire bring. If you see anyone appropriate, please send them to us.”

I can tell you what this brings. It brings nothing.

Yes you may meet a few people. They will be good people, okay at what they do, but perfect for you? No they are unlikely to be.

The reasons are actually very simple. Here are some thoughts:

1. The best people in the market are working

You want the best people in the marketplace, but there is a problem. These people are in good jobs with good businesses and they are being looked after. They are not sitting on databases waiting to be called about a great opportunity.

They only ever come onto the market on their own accord if things go wrong where they are – or they are blocked from a career move. This blocked move may be actual or imagined but in the perception of the individual it is real.

If you want them, you need to attract these people onto the market. You need to approach them at the right time and in the right way. The you need to sell them the benefits of your opportunity. This process is not as straight forward as it sounds. It takes experience, skill and a lot of time and effort to do properly.

2. You are being forgotten

The consultant who invested all that time in making a search recommendation will forget you. They have clients who have retained them to find them the right people and they are busy. As I mentioned above, attracting candidates onto the market takes a lot of time and effort, and with the best will in the world, the best consultants only have so many hours in the day.

Why would they realistically send you the best candidates they know? They won’t. They will find them and then introduce them to their paying clients. The clients who are prepared to invest in their firms.

They are not forgetting you on purpose, this is simply a mixture of business and human nature.

3. You are not being taken seriously

Every time I hear of a business who are looking to grow by acquisitive hiring but want to take a ‘wait and see’ or general contingent approach, I know what the result will be. I also wonder how serious they are about hiring and growth in the first place.

I think that, and the consultants you speak to think the same thing. Yes, of course they would love to take a fee from you, but they won’t. They won’t be putting any effort into your requirement, because realistically it’s not a valuable use of their time.

In general, the senior market is completely candidate driven. This means that there are many roles available, and few candidates to fill them. Consultants who represent these candidates will introduce them to who they consider the serious hirers.

Too harsh?

I appreciate that I have been very black and white here, but I see far too many good businesses who could so easily grow not do. They sit back hoping that it will happen. You don’t take this approach to your other business development activities, so why do you do it when it comes to recruiting?

Wait and see what comes, and you will wait a long time. Take control and invest in a proactive process, and the growth you want will come. Why would you want to wait for someone else to control the speed of your business?

Note: Originally written for the client audience, I thought it might be interesting to post this article here and see what people think.... 

For more on developing yourself or your staff and improving the profitability of your business, please do get in touch. You can email me at james@jamesnathan.com, use the contact page on my website www.jamesnathan.com or call me on 07736 831151. Follow me on Twitter at @jamesnathan, connect to me on LinkedIn, or follow me on Facebook.

I look forward to speaking soon.

Views: 382

Comment by Linda Ferrante on January 29, 2015 at 8:44am

Great article!  The other type of company/business owner we have trouble working with is the one who continues to say 'my money' instead of 'the company's money'.  If a business owner can't separate the two, they just don't see the value in paying for our search.  Notorious for 'send me someone if you come across them' and then expect them for free.  Ugh.  Strategic planning for growth DOES include a financial investment, whether it's in recruiting, equipment, coaching, C-level expertise, etc.  Recognizing this and acting upon it, however...

Comment by james nathan on January 29, 2015 at 8:45am

Thanks for your comments Linda. It's funny isn't it. When you ask a client if you can have their service or product for free they are not so forthcoming!


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