Having worked in executive search for more than 10 years, I have had great success in finding candidates but have encountered many obstacles in trying to place those candidates because often many hiring managers mismanage the hiring process. Below are five issues hiring managers must consider when trying to fill their open positions with superstar candidates.
- There’s no silver bullet — Some hiring managers will consider only the most perfect candidate. The candidate must have the correct degree, must live within a commutable distance, must have the right niche of skills, must have international experience, must be willing to work for “x” amount of dollars, must love ping pong, and must be able to juggle three cats while riding up a ramp backwards on a unicycle. Those last two I made up but they emphasize how particular some managers can be. Your dream engineering candidate who knows how to work with polymers for medical devices containing lasers believe it or not might not live within 20 miles from your headquarters. Train and be flexible on relocation if you want your silver bullet. Additionally, if the candidate doesn’t have the degree you want but beaucoup experience in the field then defer to the experience and take advantage of their real-world skills.
- Hiring managers want all-star candidates at second-string salaries — Of course hiring managers want to hire the best of the best for as little as possible, especially if the candidate currently works for their bigger more successful competitor. But if they want that quota-busting salesperson with 15 years experience who sells their specific type of software into multi-million dollar companies that specialize in bio-medical supplies, then they’d better not be cheap. To put it in understandable terms, why would Tom Brady leave the New England Patriots and play for the perennially bad Cleveland Browns for half the money? If you want an all-star, don’t waste time offering a minor league salary.
- Don’t procrastinate — Hiring managers are hot to fill their open positions, yet they may take four days to review the resumes passed their way, another week to schedule the interview, and another two weeks after meeting with the candidate to decide if they want to bring the candidate in for another interview. What hiring managers don’t realize is that the superstar candidate is also entertaining offers from other companies and their procrastination might lose them their top draft pick.
- Free your mind – Less than 20% of recruiters and executive search people use behavioral assessments, and we’re still in the early adopter phase of video interviewing  tools, both designed to save the hiring manager’s time and to help them make the best hire. Hiring managers who aren’t onboard should consider using these proven tools designed to help them attract and retain top performers.
- Why the candidate should work for you – Hiring managers often approach recruiting as though they are speaking to a candidate with seven children in college all of whom need braces and brain surgery. In other words they think most candidates certainly want, if not need, to work for them and thus approach the candidate with a “what can you do for me” attitude rather than “here’s-why-you-should-want-to-work-for-us” attitude. (Maybe this explains why they are so carefree with the candidate’s time as mentioned in point number three.) Hiring managers often provide a job description with a laundry list of mundane requirements and qualifications that is only going to attract the desperate candidates who need a job, not the ones who want and can do the job passionately. Tell the candidate why they should want to work for your company, and most importantly why they should want to work for you. Don’t assume your job is the Holy Grail for which candidates have long been searching.
- “And the sign says ‘long haired freaky people need not apply ” — Similar to these songs lyrics and point one, hiring managers, much to the frustration of recruiters and executive search people, don’t give people a chance no matter how much experience they have. “If you don’t walk like me or talk like me then odds are you won’t be successful in this organization.” This often-misguided attitude delays the hiring process and the hiring manager’s odds of finding that superstar candidate. The engineer who designed the Mars Rover landing wears two earrings. I worked with a software company that behaviorally tested their incoming candidates because they wanted candidates who matched the behavioral profiles of the CEO and VP of sales, both of which were similar. The theory was if the CEO and Sales VP were successful, then employees with the same behavioral attributes should be as well. Unfortunately the CEO managed his subordinates in a manner he himself would not want to be managed even though he shared similar behavioral attributes. As a result he experienced high employee turnover.
Politely respect the candidate’s time and talent. If you left Tom Brady hanging for three weeks do you think he’d want to play for your organization?