In a standard job search, it is critically important for companies to discover talent that aligns with a specific role and can handle the various responsibilities that come with it. But when recruiting a leadership candidate, there is much greater significance placed on finding right-fit candidates. When recruiting for these high-impact roles, the stakes are exponentially higher—with the cost of a bad hire being up to 30 percent of the executive’s first-year earnings.
If your organization is looking to hire its next senior-level manager, the following tips can help ensure your recruiting process is successful.
1. Get your organization on the same page.
One of the most essential steps in the leadership recruitment process is to align your company’s decision-makers and discuss your vision of your ideal candidate. Be aligned on your collective vision for the role and the impact you need your new hire to have. What do you want them to achieve in the first 30, 60, 90 days and beyond? Explain the types of experience you seek in this new hire, along with the desired skill set and personality traits for the role. This will be crucial to the efficacy of your initial sourcing and recruiting efforts.
With any leadership search, selectivity is essential. Ninety-four percent of executives and 88 percent of employees recognize how vital a company’s culture is to its success. These senior-level candidates will significantly influence your organization’s culture, so it is imperative to find a candidate that embodies your organization’s values. When a leader’s values and behaviors misalign with those of the corporate culture, it can create tension, conflict, and resistance that can impede progress and hinder the manager’s ability to achieve their goals. Not only must the individual be qualified for the job, but they must also be a strong cultural fit for your company. Organizations have recently found success by leveraging tools like personality and behavioral-based assessments to forecast how a candidate will perform in their new role. Failing to vet and evaluate your candidate fully may lead to future confusion or chaos.
2. Know the market.
When identifying a leadership role that needs to be filled within your organization, you should generate an intimate understanding of the job market for that type of position. Research your competitors to see what candidate experiences and personal growth opportunities they offer their senior-level candidates. Know the ins and outs of your competition and how your brand stacks up against it. “When you think about employer branding and how you articulate your culture to attract, engage, and retain talent, you need to go beyond performative,” states John Graham Jr., VP of Employer Brand, Diversity, and Culture at Shaker Recruitment Marketing. “Candidates can see through it. They’re tapping into their networks to understand who you really are—beyond what your career site says, says Graham, Jr.” Enhancing your employer brand will ultimately help your company attract qualified prospective talent. And organizations with a strong brand save 43 percent of the cost of hiring.
The actions and decisions of senior leaders determine your company’s strategic direction and impact the business’s overall success. Therefore, when recruiting these employees, your organization should have more to offer than just a lucrative compensation and benefits package. Learn what kinds of opportunities these individuals seek in a new position to woo them to consider joining your organization more effectively. Think outside the box and generate creative yet personal ways to engage your potential candidate.
3. Be proactive, not reactive.
If you want to find the best candidate during your search efforts, you probably will not find them on the job market. Instead, your ideal hire is most likely employed and succeeding in their current role. And more often than not, your potential superstar hire is currently working for your competition.
This is where passive candidate recruiting strategies come into play. If your organization is trying to appeal to these passive candidates, it is pivotal to formulate an exceptional sales pitch that conveys the strength of your employment brand. In some cases, the individual you are trying to attract may have a limited understanding of your company’s background, so perfectly scripting this initial conversation is critical to your recruitment success. But don’t expect to woo your ideal candidate overnight—instead, take the time to develop a meaningful relationship with this individual to boost the effectiveness of your recruiting efforts.
4. Use behavioral interview tactics.
Employers use behavioral interviewing to evaluate a candidate’s experiences and behaviors. Studies show that this approach is 55 percent predictive of future on-the-job behavior, compared to only 10 percent predictivity in traditional interviews. Behavioral interview strategies pose open-ended questions and statements to the candidate designed to elicit detailed responses about their past experiences. Eighty-six percent of recruiters and hiring managers feel that behavioral interviewing is somewhat or very effective.
Beyond this interview approach, try to generate an understanding of how your candidate is going to elevate your company to the next level. By bouncing ideas off each other in an organic way, you will get a better feel for how the individual reacts to compelling and thought-provoking questions.
5. Clearly define process expectations.
Upon initiating your search with a list of qualified candidates, your organization needs to have a plan of attack. When these interviewees ask questions about the recruiting timeline or the next stage in the interview process, you need to have the answers readily available.
Ultimately, your company sets the tone during the recruitment process. If your decision-makers collaborate quickly and make swift decisions after the interviews, you will leave a positive impression on the candidate you hope to hire. But if you let the process linger on for several weeks—or even months—your odds of success will dwindle.
In today’s job market, executing a successful leadership search requires more sourcing expertise and recruitment skills than a traditional job search. While the process may be challenging and time-consuming, the ultimate reward will come upon discovering the right-fit leader that your team needs.
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Author Navaneel Das