Monday, July 9, 2012

Thanks For Wasting My Time (Part 2)

Now we get to the biggie when it comes to delays and indecision in the search process…The Client (aka The Employer, The Company, The Hiring Authority.) If you want to know where job searches go to die, just follow some companies through their interview and hiring process. What you will see are missed interviews, rescheduled interviews, changing job requirements, low-ball salary offers and poor communication within the organization and with the candidate/search firm. You will likely see a lot more, but when you boil it all down the problems are related to three major issues:

_The Client does not really know what they want.
_The Client is not willing to pay for what they want.
_The Client has too many people involved in the process.

Each of these issues has multiple “issues” of their own, but we see common themes across many different organizations.

So why would a Client not really know what they want? First it’s worth noting that many clients know exactly what they want and are consistent throughout the search process. Headhunters enjoy working for these clients and give them priority. But a significant number of clients either don’t know what they want or change their minds as the search progresses. Headhunters can be slow learners at times, but eventually they figure out who these clients are and work with them accordingly.

And then there are job descriptions. The client will say that if you are a capable search firm, their job description contains all you should need to know about the position. Unfortunately, most job descriptions are too general, too “HR-ish” and too “buzz-worded”. Best case they may provide a first level filter for sifting through candidates. When it gets down to interviewing and making critical decisions, the Client may still not really know what they need from the position. So they hire the candidate “everyone felt good about”. Which often means they end up hiring a great candidate but for the wrong job.

So for the search firm; dealing with a Client who does not know what they want becomes a process of Q&A, investigation and what-if’s. If we are fortunate enough to be dealing with the ultimate hiring authority and decision-maker, we may be successful. But if we are dealing with HR or a hiring authority that really doesn’t have much authority and is not THE decision-maker, the odds of success go down considerably. And the time investment necessarily goes up. We end up playing show and tell with a variety of candidates; and usually not the highest quality, under-the-radar candidates who tend to resist being “demo-ed” for poorly defined job opportunities. If we take on this type of search, we can only hope that we are not facing either of the other two hurdles.

Next week we’ll take on “The Client is not willing to pay for what they want”.

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