Hitting the Bullseye

Hitting the Bullseye

By Adam Hillier

Bringing senior talent into a business is an investment and yet nearly 90% of firms estimate that up to 25% of new employees leave within the first six months; resulting in business disruption, cost and missed opportunities. In our opinion there are a few important steps which can help to ensure a positive outcome and a return on your investment.

1. Right partner

For senior positions, the use of a recruitment partner remains the best chance of success. A good partner will understand the dynamics of the sector, the key players and market challenges. They will have experience of recruiting in that sector and/or the specific discipline, have a good appreciation of what it takes to be successful both from a technical skill perspective as well as a leader, and will already have access to a network of candidates. Most importantly they will bring both insight and challenge, to help the client in defining exactly what is required. Too often a lack of clarity in the role, and what is required, leads to a mis-selling of the position and the candidate feeling “this is not what I signed up for”.

2. Access to the business

Given the confidential nature of many senior assignments it may not be possible to include all internal stakeholders. However, where access can be arranged, this enables the Search consultant to obtain the information and cultural insight they need to approach the market with authenticity, passion and enthusiasm. This personal, tailored service is required to really pique the interest of the very best candidates.

3. Robust assessment process

A well tooled assessment process greatly improves the accuracy of selection decisions. With the cost of mis-hires estimated to be as much as 15 times annual salary for leadership positions, the cost benefit of adding rigour to the process is very compelling. Wickland Westcott use a job relevant leadership framework for interviewing and reference checking, coupled with psychometric profiling as the basis for our assessments. Whilst less than 20% of companies currently use personality tests in the hiring process, this number is increasing at 10-15% per year as organisations realise the importance of cultural fit and greater candidate understanding.

4. Rigour and speed

Speed is crucial in a selection process, so too is rigour. Agreeing timelines upfront will help to demonstrate to candidates how seriously your organisation approaches talent acquisition and management. It is paramount to maintain continuity and capitalise on candidates’ positive sentiment and excitement by moving at pace. A key part of this momentum is booking time into the diaries of the internal stakeholders who will meet the short-listed candidate(s). If meetings are postponed, and the process allowed to drag, candidate interest can wane.

5. Onboarding

There can be an underlying assumption that, given the seniority of the individual being appointed, he/she will hit the ground running. The reality is that most organisations are complex to navigate, operating in markets that are volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. The new hire often parachutes into this environment, and the clock starts ticking the moment they hit the ground. Wickland Westcott’s search process ties in three months of integration coaching for new hires, by an experienced executive coach to ensure they land smoothly.


Employing a clear recruitment strategy and investing in an end-to-end solution which balances the creative and the scientific, greatly improves the chances of making a game changing appointment. At Wickland Westcott we adopt this approach to all our assignments and tailor each to the specific needs of the client. As a result, over the last 20 months 100% of our appointments* are still in position or have been promoted.

*(correct as of January 2018)

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