At the executive level, the average time to perform a search from retaining a recruiter to hiring a candidate takes a little over three months. Most companies want to hire someone yesterday, to fill a critical need in the organization. And averages don’t tell you much about your particular situation. The average temperature on earth of 64 degrees may be accurate on a moderate fall day in the Bay Area but does not tell you what to pack for a business trip to the East coast or vacation in Hawaii. The search question becomes, how long will my search take? Or assuming you need to hire immediately, how do I reduce search time?
Through experience, I have learned five things that will improve the search process to reduce the time for your hire:
- a timeline/deadline for the hire,
- a well-defined realistic specification,
- a jump-start to the search,
- the interview ‘jury’ in agreement on requirements, and
- a decision-making meeting.
When: Hiring timeline
The quickest searches I have worked on share one common element: the need to hire by a specific date to fill a vacancy. One client had someone leaving the company; a start-up client received budget approval to fill a long-time gap. These clients had an urgency to fill the position. In your hiring situation, think about the timeline needed to hire, the pain that exists within your organization, and the best case date for hiring.
What: Well-defined specification
Clearly define responsibilities and qualifications for the position in a written specification.
- What are the objectives for the new hire?
- What experience and skills are necessary to achieve these objectives?
- What are the priority qualifications, and which ones are nice-to-have?
- What is the compensation for this position – base, bonus or commission?
These questions help define whether you can realistically find this person at the target pay level in the current job market. A good executive recruiter will be able to share information on ability to recruit a successful candidate to your firm meeting your specifications.
Jump-start the search by level-setting on candidates. Share background on employees at the same level, candidates interviewed but rejected, or unsuccessful offers to quickly set expectations for the search. A good executive recruiter may be able to share potential candidate profiles to gain common understanding on level for candidates. This communication can reduce the need for a round of candidates that don’t meet the mark.
Who: Jury agreement
Quick searches include an interview team in agreement around the specification. The interview ‘jury’ should only be those that have a say in the hiring decision. A jury not in agreement often causes long searches. For example, the jury of one client placed more emphasis on chemistry fit above meeting specifications and ultimately hired someone less qualified than other candidates. Early in a search, an executive recruiter can meet with jury members to ensure search goals are in alignment.
Conclusion: Hiring Decision
Lastly, a decision-making meeting gathers feedback from the jury to solicit candidate input and prioritize candidates. Whether informal conversations or a formal meeting after a day of interviews, this meeting brings closure on extending an offer. This offer hopefully brings a successful, quick close to the search….followed by a quick start-date.
Kathryn Ullrich Associates, Inc. is currently working on a number of searches that may be of interest to your friends or former colleagues. For more information, go to the Contact Us page of www.ullrichassociates.com.
- CEO – Web content management company
- Sales Delivery Partner – Leadership development firm
- Director Engineering – Hosted contact center company
- Director Operations – Hosted contact center company
- Manager/Senior Consultant, Financial Services – Consulting firm
Over the past year Kathryn Ullrich Associates, Inc. has also worked with clients ranging from large enterprise software companies to venture-backed start-ups to a non-profit research institute. Searches have included VP and Director level searches in product marketing/management, marcom, sales, alliances, consulting, finance, and engineering/QA.
I am often contacted as a source about employment trends in Silicon Valley, including for women in technology due to my involvement as Founding President of Alliance of Technology and Women (ATW) Silicon Valley chapter (www.atwinternational.org.) Recent articles and news includes:
- Silicon Valley Business Journal Book of Lists – 11th largest executive recruiting firm in Silicon Valley.
- Stevie Awards for Entrepreneurial Women – finalist in the category Women Helping Women.
- “Reinventing yourself to fit changing times” moderator for ATW Executive Auction and Panel Discussion. Panelists included Deborah Conrad - VP at Intel, Marylene Delbourg-Delphis – former founder and CEO, Roz Ho – GM at Microsoft, and Erin Kinikin – VP of Forrester Research.
Some coming events that may be of interest:
- Jan. 15 – “The MBA at Mid-Career: A Holistic Approach to Mid-Life Career Transition”, conference at UCLA Anderson School.
- Jan. 27 – “Encouraging Girls in All Things Technical” ATW program with San Jose Tech Museum, Anita Borg Institute for Women in Technology and Forum for Women Entrepreneurs.