here for a pdf version!
part of an occasional series, we publish 'Searching Matters'.
This edition offers a formula for conducting your own
search assignment. All the pit-falls are spelled-out to
enable you to Do-It-Yourself.
guide to search
adage, "people are your most important asset"
is wrong. The right people are your most important
recruiting your fair share of the right people to fill those
key positions? Your business has to adapt and improve but
without the right people you have a built-in handicap. The
most successful businesses continue to pull away from the
rest and it's their people that make the difference.
better than anyone else the position to be filled and the
qualities of someone who can be expected to succeed. So why
not do it yourself. Here's how to do it.
initial thinking: a quality check
Check your recruitment strategy and process because quality
has to come first. Don't fall at the first hurdle: the best
available person that can be found to meet your initial thinking
may not be good enough. You need to keep options open. Like
any project, you must manage the risks that can lead to delay,
to an unsuccessful appointment, to wasted business opportunities
and to wasted time.
You'll need to write down a description of the job and the
personal qualities needed. There are usually choices as to
what you need to look for when making senior appointments,
especially when people are to work together in a team. And
as team working increases in importance, you might want to
put some personal qualities such as communication, stamina,
adaptability and persuasiveness ahead of the more familiar
So, when your vacancy is particularly critical or the market
for people is particularly tight, you will need to build some
trade-offs into the yardsticks you use.
You need to look in three places to find the trade-offs:
the way in which you define the job
- in where you choose to look for candidates and
- in the strengths and preferences of candidates.
know of someone who you think could be suitable or decide
to look for candidates through acquaintances or agency CVs.
Finding good candidates by this route rarely produces the
best and you are necessarily limiting the field. Also, strong
candidates are not often found on databases because people
of greater ability tend not to seek advancement in this way
and when they do appear, it's not for long. A lot of valuable
time can be wasted and the wrong compromises made if your
project is tackled in this way.
You will be wiser to advertise, conduct a search, or both.
Advertising and search will give you the opportunity to address
candidates who are new to the market, to assess the market
and to attract the attention of people who had not hitherto
considered the kind of opportunity you are offering. And it
should to be recognised that with today's levels of search
activity, many people do not feel the need to comb the job
A search programme can be quite involved. You will need to
identify people employed in the industry/location/occupation
that you decide and names will need to be gleaned from careful
research. When you talk to potential candidates, some will
lead you to others but you must be wary of the reputation
that you can get for yourself in your industry.
the right people interested
When searching you must continually take the opportunity to
sell yourself and above all to listen to what people have
to say. Plan the conversation, talk to them, find out their
real interests and tell them about your opportunity. Let them
tell you what they have done and how they did it. You can
then get to recognise for yourself the stage that they have
reached and whether they would fit into your team. (We call
this 'Mutuality'.) And remember, amongst these people is likely
to be a candidate who you will want to join you. You will
need to commit a good deal of unsocial time to these conversations;
usually over the telephone.
introduce new options
When you hear of potential candidates, you will need to be
thinking about those trade-offs. The short-list will present
you with some opportunities that you had not considered in
your initial thinking. The ideas now passing through your
mind might include the following.
candidate does not have all the attributes that we are seeking
but has others that we did not initially require. It presents
us with fresh options that we must consider."
candidate has spent little time in our industry but their
experience benchmarks strongly with our emergent technologies/processes/markets.
It really does offer us advantages that we could not have
anticipated and I can see that they would contribute well
as a team member."
must handle the trade-offs with care. Questions that will
need to be considered here may include
you and should you change the role in the light of a candidate's
own attributes and preferences?
a case being made for the team to share responsibilities
it appropriate for your business (and for a candidate) to
ask them to join you from a different industry?
agreement to join
The offer may be made and accepted in a simple transaction.
When that happens it is a tribute to the thought and effort
you have put into the process. Some further persuasion and
negotiation is usually necessary and this can be a very critical
time as parties are testing one another for temperament as
well as conducting the negotiation of a package. Other short
list candidates will need to be kept in the running and you
will need to maintain a dialogue with them to retain their
continuing confidence in you, the process and the opportunity.
an effective entry
You have invited someone to take up key responsibilities in
your business. There is a huge amount to be learned and they
will not be aware of most of it. New recruits don't know what
they don't know. You will have to invest a good deal of time
and effort planning briefings and training to give the recruit
the best possible start. Any new recruit feels themselves
to be in the deep-end and their own thinking and effort alone
cannot be expected to be achieve the induction needed.
in this work takes training, experience and practice. PMSelect
has the capability already in place to do this all for you.
you decide that your skills are better dedicated to doing
your business, then perhaps you should leave this kind
of thing to us - doing our business!