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17 May 2013 The Changing Face of Outplacement by Diana Westlake
3 May 2013
6 February 2013 Commercial Skills Required by John Dodd
11 February 2013 Tough Conversations - practice makes perfect by Stuart O'Reilly
22 January 2013
12 November 2012 Women on Boards Event by Laura Oliver
2 November 2012 Talons Management by John Milsom
10 October 2012
31 August 2012 Allow SID to be Vicious by Keith McCambridge
1 June 2012 The Best Candidates Choose You by Keith Miller
30 May 2012
12 July 2012 Would your team win gold? by Laura Oliver
2 August 2012 Leadership teams – what goes on at 35,000 feet by Keith McCambridge
5 April 2012
14 May 2012 Don't Cut Corners on Job Analysis by Jerome Bull
18 April 2012 CSR - Who Are We Kidding? by Laurence Jackson
30 March 2012
23 February 2012 Stargazing by Melissa Davis
31 January 2012 Some Honest Answers by Colin Mercer
19 January 2012
16 January 2012 Embedding Talent Management by Laura Oliver
7 February 2012 Driving Behavioural Change by Liz Lawson
5 January 2012
18 November 2011 Women on the Board by John Dodd
9 November 2011 Collaborative Leadership by John Milsom
8 November 2011
10 October 2011 Does coaching make you too risky? by John Milsom
7 October 2011 Transparency with Candidates by John Milsom
5 October 2011
13 September 2011 Blinkers off - recruiting from other sectors by Jerome Bull
13 September 2011 Diversity - Make it work for your Board by John Dodd
23 August 2011
19 August 2011 The Future of Leadership by John Milsom
19 July 2011 The Non Executive Catch 22 by Mike Spurr
11 July 2011
17 June 2011 Becoming an NED - Look Before You Leap by Mike Spurr
15 June 2011 It's a Two Way Street by Jerome Bull
1 June 2011
27 May 2011 Adopting Commercial Values by Laurence Jackson
17 May 2011 Surviving in Tough Times by Laurence Jackson
15 February 2011
10 February 2011 Survival Leadership by John Milsom
7 February 2011 Private Equity - Have You Got What it Takes? by Keith Miller
19 January 2011
12 January 2011 Standing Out From The Crowd by Jerome Bull
10 November 2010 Recruitment - Ensuring it Really is a Buyers Market by John Fortescue
28 October 2010
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Executive Search and Corporate Reputation
After a few minutes thought, most people can probably recall job interviews they have experienced throughout their career. They'll remember whether they were good, bad or indifferent and the chances are they'll have at least one horror story to tell. In every case the experience will have coloured their view of the headhunter and, by association, the recruiting organisation.
The way senior executives are treated during a recruitment process is transmitted to the market through the 'bush telegraph'. Where the candidate experience is good the client's corporate reputation is enhanced, drawing the best talent towards those organisations. Unfortunately, the reverse is also true, and poor experiences make it harder to attract good people in future.
Wickland Westcott has gathered candidate feedback over the last 5 years and has studied the results in detail. So, what is the secret to creating an outstanding experience for potential hires and ensuring that even those who are unsuccessful walk away feeling well-treated? To find the answer to this question, you have to 'walk with' a candidate through the journey of a job application.
When approached, most search candidates are already in some form of employment, and all will have a series of responsibilities and commitments that will need to be modified if a new role is taken on. Considering a new job requires careful thought, and maybe preliminary conversations with the family. So the first thing a search candidate wants is honesty: is this a real role that the client is genuinely looking to fill, or is this simply a procedural exercise before the client appoints the internal candidate who has already been earmarked? Search candidates quickly detect if they are involved in a benchmark exercise and the hiring of a 'surprise' internal candidate at the last stage is annoying for all involved - denting corporate reputation and causing candidates to view any future approach with suspicion.
During the selection process search candidates rightly demand regular feedback and communication. They also expect a reasonably frank appraisal of how they sit in relation to the other candidates you are speaking to. For example, are they one of three candidates the client is meeting, or are there more names in the frame?
As the search nears completion, emotions and expectations begin to run high and it is important for the client organisation to act decisively so that candidates know where they stand. Asking the search Consultant to 'keep people warm' whilst negotiations proceed with the preferred candidate is damaging, as the rest of the shortlist intuitively detect what is happening. In any case, hiring organisations rarely take their 'number two' candidate from the list, preferring to start again. Client organisations should expect to be challenged by the Wickland Westcott in these situations – this is done first and foremost to protect the client’s reputation.
Unsuccessful candidates, handled badly, have very long memories. We have a main board client who was headhunted for a role seven years ago. He was unsuccessful at the shortlist stage but the hiring firm failed to stand him down. He mentions it whenever he is retaining us on a new role, and is highly uncomplimentary about the search firm concerned, and more importantly, the client organisation. How many other people does he mention it to?
At the culmination of the selection process, the candidate will be successful or unsuccessful in securing the role. But if the journey ends there, most candidates will be unhappy. Having invested time into the process, they have a (not unreasonable) expectation of receiving meaningful feedback.
Often this is not forthcoming. The lack of feedback may be because the client is too busy, or is uncomfortable delivering bad news. This is where good headhunters earn their corn. The role of a search Consultant largely involves managing expectations and delivering disappointing news, as only one individual is appointed for each search. All too often, the runners-up are told that “it was a very close thing, you were second on the list and the other candidate was a little closer to the specification”. This leaves them with nothing to learn from the experience and no way to improve their approach. It is therefore critical to provide honest, prompt, sensitive and specific feedback. In most cases, candidates are highly appreciative, and take a positive view of the recruiting organisation and the headhunter.
In summary, each and every search should be regarded as an opportunity for the organisation to enhance the market’s view of their leadership qualities, values, and employer brand. If organisations fail to consider the candidate journey and simply treat the search as a mechanical process, the supply of talent willing to join the Board or senior team could dry when it is most needed.
How does Wickland Westcott stack-up in this area? The latest candidate data (September 2010) based on nearly 2000 anonymous responses, rates our interview experience as follows: Excellent 90%, Reasonable 9.7%, Less Than Satisfactory 0.3%, Very Poor 0%.