How headhunters find top talent

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If recruiting talented people is one of your top priorities (and it should be if you want to stay a top manager), then spending an hour of your time with your HR department or your preferred recruitment company or executive search firm is critical to the success of the hiring process.

I’m always puzzled when executives don’t take this briefing more serious because it leaves your hiring partner (whether HR or Headhunter) with a lot of guessing to do. When your hiring partner is left to fill out the blanks with their own ideas on what the job really is, you probably have a better chance of winning in the lottery than getting the best candidate for the job.

Take an hour of your time to sit with the hiring team (HR or Headhunter) to clarify what success looks like in this role, tell them about your expectations, what it takes to be successful in this position (deliverables), what the challenges are and also why someone would come and work for you. From this session we can prepare a document (we call them Assignment Briefings and Competency Charts) that will help attract top people. It will also save you 20 hours of interviewing time because you will meet better candidates the first time.

If hiring top talent is not important to you, keep using traditional job descriptions

that focus on skills requirements rather than challenges

Are you great at assessing competency and closing top candidates? From our candidates we hear these complaints when they call us after meeting a client:

  1. The interviewer was not trained in how to interview, was talking too much;
  2. The interviewer did not “sell” the job and the company in the interview;
  3. The interviewer did not have a clear idea of the type of person wanted.

If we hear “Just get me some candidates, I’ll know it when I see it”, we normally pass on these assignments. Ask the caller to try another recruitment company. It is frustrating when the recruiter presents a top person but the hiring manager declines to proceed because the position was not positioned properly in the first place.

We work with an integrated recruiting and closing process, where meeting candidates is just one in a series of steps designed to close top people. If your company is not using a process that challenges and makes the job more attractive, you’re missing out on the best talent.

Why 7 years of industry experience is not important. Many hiring managers believe that so many years of work experience and industry knowledge automatically translate to on-the-job results. And that a lack of any of these translates to a lack of candidate competency. Let me tell you that I have seen many people who matched the job posting but somehow did not deliver the results. On the other hand I have also seen top people who demonstrated that they could do the work even without the “7 years experience”. Here is the thing…

If they can do the work you need done, then they have the right mix of skills and experience. Whatever that mix is called. So just define the job, then assess the candidates based on their ability to do the job. Voila’

Tom Sorensen

Tom Sorensen is an executive search veteran with over 25 years of experience recruiting in Asia, Europe, and Africa. He has worked in executive search in Thailand since 2003 and is recognized as one of the country’s top recruiters and most profiled headhunters.