The Final Secret Ingredient to Leading a Successful Search


It is appropriate that as I finish this series, a pot of my coveted sauce is actually simmering on my stove.  Over these musings, I covered the posting and the story behind the role, moved forward to the research and networking, then the important vetting process in preparations for “game day” and actually meeting the candidates.  In keeping with my cooking analogy, the final chapter is equivalent to the taste-testing and re-seasoning of the sauce.

My goal is for no surprises at the end.    I am in communication with my candidates and my partners over the on-site visits to check-in to gain some initial reads of the perception of fit and match from both camps.  I am proud to say that no candidate has ever returned from an on-site and confessed that I painted the wrong-picture and told a very different tale of the opportunity.  What I love to hear is that candidates and partners were even more impressed after these meetings.  Again, in cooking, we are schooled to taste test to check for spices and seasonings throughout the process.

In the end, you need to keep this process moving forward as you have had multiple folks on-site and many will want to know of your decision.  I suggest mapping out the schedule and sharing this with an optimal time-frame for candidates to know for their planning and peace of mind.  Confidentiality must continue to be stressed throughout this process.  Going into weekends, I have made calls to my candidates to say, I still have no more information, but I will let you know of next steps.  Somehow, the best laid plans can be complicated by the strangest of details.  It is key to keep everyone engaged in this final process. I think of the popular British Keep Calm and Carry On Campaign as recruitments conclude.

I encourage my partners to sharpen their pencils and make the best offer possible.  In most searches, there is a range involved, the candidates are always drawn to the top of the range while the employer partners are focused on the lower end of the range. I do not like dickering over a few thousand dollars as it starts a distrustful relationship in many ways.  In my cooking, I use only the best and freshest ingredients I can find.

Sometimes a search must be re-launched at this stage if there is not a clear finalist post the interviews and referencing.  Many times a step back can help teams analyze and understand the issues at hand following a recruitment. Sometimes the position needs to be re-evaluated, re-titled, salaries must be calibrated and other times some added clean-up/clarity is needed to make the opportunity look more appealing. I have yet to toss out a batch of sauce over my 30 years of cooking.  I have had to re-season, but I have learned to correct for errors or misjudgments.  If you are constantly taste-testing the sauce, you can often avoid any surprises.

If there is a re-launch, or a search goes on for too long, candidates start making up their own stories about the why’s and the issues at the organization.   You must have a story about what you have been looking for and why you think you have not been successful.  Candidates deserve to know this history.  A colleague once noted that recruiting calls for the skills sets of a story teller, a real estate agent and a match maker.

A recent committee noted that each of the three finalists candidates were solid candidates all for very different reasons.  They admitted all could do the job and each of the three would approach the role differently.  Their question, was there anyone else out there that might be even better than these three.  They needed some coaching on what the messaging would be to these three if there was a time-gap in this search.  They did not fully realize that their indecision could negatively affect the candidate’s interest. 

Back to my cooking analogy, with this pot of sauce, I am also making some homemade pasta.  The lesson here is to never be complacent in your work.  Each and every day we must challenge ourselves to be thinking of ways to be even better. For years, I thought my homemade sauce was enough, little did I know that fresh pasta could be a game changer.   





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