Find the best candidate, not the best one currently available

By client

Boards, Executive and senior management when faced with an unexpected resignation, or termination, that has occurred with no clear succession plan in place, often unwittingly panic.  Their overwhelming desire to appoint someone into the vacant position results in a race to place someone in the seat without due consideration or process. This means that the best candidate currently available is appointed not the best candidate who would consider the position and there is a significant difference.

As painful as it often is, a Board or Executive team taking a step back and accepting some short-term pain will result in a better outcome. A more considered and thoughtful examination of what is actually required for success in the role, and not a “knee-jerk” reaction to fill the vacancy, will assist in a better placement ultimately. Time spent undertaking a detailed analysis of the skills, personal attributes and experience to succeed in the role, plus setting clear deliverables for the future, represents the best investment of time that can be made in any Executive recruitment process.

Taking a breath halts the innate desire to appoint a known candidate because they are available. I am not saying don’t consider a candidate currently available, which is a more regular occurrence in the market today often through no fault of their own, rather consider them against the entire market. Market mapping of the best potential talent available is an important part of any recruitment exercise. Engage with a micro-specialist who knows their market intimately will aid in reducing the risk involved in making this critical appointment.

With several recently completed Executive assignments, extensive market mapping resulted in the identification of talented candidates in different parts of the globe (Oslo (Norway); Santiago (Chile); Houston (Texas, USA) and Suva (Fiji)), all of whom were not actively looking yet responded to an approach. They were interested because the role as presented was more challenging than their current position and it fitted with their career aspirations. My advice to the client on each occasion to hasten slowly resulted in a better appointment than an initial rushed decision that was being considered.

The rush to appoint is one I am encountering more regularly at the moment. This is occurring because of a misguided belief that moving quickly means you do not miss out on someone currently available. This may be so, however, a counter-argument is that testing their credentials against other potential applicants will either reinforce what a great candidate you have or will highlight the folly of your speedy decision. I acknowledge that every business wants the best person for a vacancy yet more frequently than not, they will not invest the time or effort to ensure that make this happen. Not being prepared to invest this time, is sending a subtle message to a potential candidate that key strategic decisions are not important.

My advice, based on 25 years in the recruitment industry, is despite the immediate grief and dislocation caused to your business through a vacancy ( anticipated or otherwise), stop and devote the time to appreciate the strategic importance of defining the position. This one simple step will enhance your ability to find the best person for the role, not the best one currently available. This is a mistake that might in the short-term seem sensible but could have long-term ramifications. Hasten slowly it will help you achieve a better outcome.

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