If your company has been growing steadily, and hiring at your company is standard fare, than chances are you know how to develop a candidate pipeline, conduct in-depth interviews, and selectively hire the best person for the job. Most companies have had to back-burner their hiring plans for the past three years regardless of their unquestionable need to add or replace essential people. Hiring managers given the green light to fill a role are typically left to their own devices to find and vet candidates while HR struggles to manage the overwhelming resume flow from a single job posting. With all the available talent on the market, this would seem to be the ideal time to be recruiting top talent. However, an abundance of candidates means sifting through hundreds of resumes and imposing a tremendous burn on time and resources. You may need more than just one HR person to source, interview, calibrate and vet the best of the respondents. You may need a whole team. With a resume you get a one dimensional view of an individual that doesn't yield enough detail. Making an educated decision on a candidates’ relevancy to the role becomes a rather impractical process when you don’t know them beyond the piece of paper. Once you get beyond the resume and have that candidate in front of you, the lens through which you see them offers a little bit more clarity but not the kind that will ever make you feel 100% certain they are the best person for the job. Getting to know a candidate takes time and effort. Did you know that average company invests only about six to eight hours interviewing a single individual before making a decision? When you consider how much time you and the company will be spending with that person, and the amount of money your company will invest in training, outfitting (technology) and scaling up that individual, making a hiring mistake is an investment of time and money that some companies just can’t afford.
So, how do you vet an individual and really get to know them without having experience working directly with them, or someone you know? Its part assessment, part instinct, and part gamble. The first two are the most critical, and in some cases, I’d put more weight on instinct than assessment. The idea is to reduce the gamble to less than 10% of your overall decision making process. The instinct part is something we all have, just how finely tuned our instincts are though makes the critical difference. If you are someone who relies heavily on data points (technical, behavioral or personality assessments, and skill-based testing) because perhaps you are not sure you can do the “deep dive” for practical reasons, or you have made hiring mistakes in the past and don’t want to repeat history, then using a technical or skill-based assessment test may offer the raw data you need to make an objective decision about one’s capabilities. The rest is a gamble. And that’s a little scary for everyone.
How do you close the gap between 90% and 100% certainty? Well, there’s no such thing as 100%, but we can do better than 90% in most cases. There are ways to get to know people without violating any company, State of Federal employment laws. And this is where hiring a good recruiter is a sound investment, particularly for the most challenging hiring needs.
A strong Search Consultant can make an immediate impact on your overall candidate sourcing process too. They can manage a recruiting process in a way that your HR team doesn't have the experience or time to do. They can also pinpoint certain qualifying factors of their own candidates by both first-hand knowledge of those individuals and experience working with them on other searches. A talented Search Consultant will often be able to fill a position in less than half the time of your HR team. Perhaps not in all cases, but HR typically has their hands full with highly critical compliance and personnel issues and it is a full-time job in and of itself, never mind adding the recruiting for the company on top of that. A well-educated, dedicated and focused recruiter will take the time to understand the exact criteria and requirements of your open requisition(s), both the tangible and intangible, and calibrate to specifications of the role.
A great Search Consultant will already have a solid mix of both industry and functional experience to be able to gain traction quickly within their network and bring the best available talent to the table. Your recruiter or search consultant should also have vetted candidates to such an extent that, by the time they're at your door, the only thing you need to be concerned about is whether they fit your team and your corporate culture. A recruiter can take the guess work out of the offer scenario too, by providing facts around the figures. The salary data they put in front of you should include base, bonus, recent or upcoming raises, equity (if any), paid vacation time, retention bonuses, and any other financial component that may be important to the candidate. While these components may not factor into your negotiation process, it will almost certainly always factor into the candidates.
Surfacing and overcoming concerns or objections is also something your recruiter should have demonstrated mastery with. No one likes surprises "at the altar", and once you've come this far, a good offer can get undermined with last minute concerns that erode trust and deteriorate the offer process into something that looks like waffling, or worse, a power play. Companies and candidates alike enjoy playing a little ball at the end...but when/if the offer becomes a game of hard-ball, your Consultant should be incorporated to help mitigate the risk of losing your top candidate to another company.
Alas, not every hiring manager has the financial carte blanche to hire a full-time Search Consultant to manage their hiring process. However, some Consultants are open to a contract where they spend just a few hours a week consulting with the hiring manager and assist on the selection and offer process with an existing pool of candidates. This is where objectivity is critical to the decision-making process! It’s difficult to be extremely objective when one works for the company, so an outside resource can assess a candidate through a different type of lens…and one that isn’t likely to become blurred by internal politics.
If the final hiring decision is yours to reap or bear, make sure you have the right tools in the toolbox. Having to live with a hiring mistake is one of the most difficult professional and personal challenges for you, the employee and the whole company. After all, you are not just hiring an employee. You are hiring their competencies, skills, personality, personal life, habits, ethics, and internal compass. You are hiring the Whole Person.