A few search assignments across our region have gone slightly awry recently and I’ve been asking myself, why? The one theme that seems to come across consistently when asking our consultants is that clients are increasingly demanding (nothing wrong with that, we’re here to serve) and that there is sometimes a disconnect between what they say, and what they do – that’s more of an issue and the point of this month’s column.
We’ve encountered quite a number of clients that start off a search with a clear idea as to what they want, who they want and how they will attract that person. It doesn’t always turn out that way. Once the realities of the market become clear, smart clients grasp that knowledge and react pragmatically. Perhaps we need to tweak the package, the job scope or the reporting line slightly to attract better quality candidates. This kind of information is exactly what a retained search consultant feeds back to clients in order to help them recruit the best organisational fit.
An example of inconsistency between words and deeds is when a client says a certain package is the absolute limit. We have worked within that to present great candidates for interviews, only to have the client decide to offer an external candidate more than the budget – shutting us out of the process. That’s all right, we don’t mind as we have been paid for the work we do. But the danger is by simply hiring an external candidate, the checks and assessments that we undertake have not been done. More than once this has ended badly with the candidate underperforming and leaving the organisation quite quickly; and we are back to searching again.
Sometimes clients move too slowly and miss out on great candidates, or they want to see more and more – hoping for that elusive perfect candidate – and then we’re back to the first part of this sentence. Recently a client signed an exclusive contract with us, only to dismay our consultant when the position was posted on a jobs board a few days later. When tackled, the client admitted that they hadn’t read our contract properly (despite signing it) and said that they didn’t work on an exclusive basis. One simple task would have saved a lot of wasted time and effort – easier for all concerned.
We like to search with clear parameters, knowing where we can stretch, and where we can’t. If we receive conflicting instructions from different parts of a client then we have to resolve that – otherwise we will be just spinning our wheels and hoping for the best. We all know that hoping isn’t a smart business strategy, so don’t leave things to chance in recruitment if you really expect the best results.
As usual, let me know if you have any particular topic you would like to see covered here.
Gary Woollacott is an executive search consultant who works for Horton International in Vietnam, Thailand and Laos. He can be reached at +84 8 3910 7682 or via firstname.lastname@example.org