December 5, 2018 – If you were brave enough to go to the grocery store this past Thanksgiving or head out shopping on Black Friday, you’re familiar with how quickly items fly off the shelves when demand is high.
Today, with the unemployment rate sitting at 3.7 percent, employers face a similarly frenzied marketplace when it comes to hiring top for-profit and not-for-profit talent, according to a new report by Tomilee Tilley Gill, founder and president of search firm Executives Unlimited. “Just like the best foods and electronics get picked up quickly during the holiday season, so too do executives in our current economic landscape,” she said. “Fortunately, by properly approaching the recruitment process, your organization can beat the rush and hire the best candidates while they’re on the shelf.”
Shrinking the Shelf Life of Candidates
If the first meeting between a candidate and an organization goes well, the applicant will typically be interested and enthusiastic about your job opportunity. “Unfortunately, because a business only has four to six weeks on average to close the deal before a prospect’s interest fades, when organizations hesitate, they fail to efficiently capitalize on this enthusiasm,” said Ms. Tilley Gill.
Tomilee Tilley Gill founded Executives Unlimited in 2001 and today serves as a coach and mentor to her firm, as well as their clients. A trusted senior financial advisor to her clients, she helps companies define how they envision their goals, and examines all aspects of her client company’s operations, laying the groundwork for a successful search process.
Guided by her strategic acumen, she leads the Executives Unlimited team, utilizing her extensive skills to advise companies in qualifying, selecting, and engaging executives. Ms. Tilley Gill specializes in working with entrepreneur founders and family-owned businesses. She possesses expertise in a variety of industries and clients ranging from entrepreneurial middle market companies to PE Firms to billion-dollar multinational corporations, publicly and privately held, including non-profits.
“Prolonging the hiring process with excessive contemplation over standout applicants often gives the impression that a business is disorganized, unsure about its goals, and how it wants to achieve them,” she noted. “Additionally, it allows the applicant to stop and consider other potential opportunities. In our current market, giving a candidate the option to look around is a sure-fire way to lose them.”
This lack of efficiency in hiring often stems from an organization’s unrealistic expectations of new applicants. Often, a business will generate a laundry list of qualifications that their ideal candidate will possess. “Realistically, finding such a perfect individual is like searching for a unicorn. Furthermore, even when the ideal, excellent applicant exists, they are often out of most organizations’ pay grade,” Ms. Tilley Gill said.
Maximizing a Candidate’s Shelf Life
“Instead of waiting around for the perfect person to show up who will magically solve all a company’s issues, organizations should evaluate how they can improve their own infrastructure to solve critical problems before bringing on someone new,” said Ms. Tilley Gill. “Then, they can look for an individual with competencies that align with what the market is allowing and who will help move the business’ goals forward. Doing so will make the organization attractive to candidates by showing them that it is mission-driven and decisive.”
Additionally, the key to increasing a candidate’s interest is showing them that they are valued by remaining committed to the search process, transparent in all discussions, and respectful of their time, the Executives Unlimited report points out. “Taking these steps will demonstrate a business’ organization, efficiency, and purpose to future hires,” she said.
“It’s also necessary to keep your potential hires actively engaged throughout the hiring process in order to maintain their interest,” Ms. Tilley Gill added. “Keeping the lines of communication open and ensuring authenticity in all interactions will help sustain a candidate’s energy and enthusiasm.”
Managing Expectations On All Sides
These days, executives are busier than ever before. For this reason, arranging meetings to keep them interested in the hiring process can be quite challenging. Managing objectives and expectations of all parties involved in the hiring process is paramount when it comes to navigating this challenge.
Close the Book on Searches and Hire the Best Candidates
Recruitment for upper echelon positions can be time-consuming, expensive and sometimes even contentious. And when a hiring strategy is ill-defined, qualified candidates can bow out of the process entirely. Here’s several suggestions on how to draft a better process for decision-making when hiring.
“Depending on the timelines involved, applicants and organizations need to be flexible,” Ms. Tilley Gill said. “Sometimes, it is necessary to meet after 5pm or on a Saturday for everybody’s schedules to align. Prioritizing meetings, even when it’s hard to align all the moving parts, is the key to working within a candidate’s shelf life.”
Above all, it’s most important for companies to remain organized and committed to effectively manage the search process, she said. “With the typical placement time of an executive averaging from four to five months, moving efficiently doesn’t always mean moving quickly, but rather remaining engaged with potential hires to allow the hiring process to evolve smoothly and organically. Being realistic, maintaining transparency, and engaging with your candidates will extend your candidates’ shelf lives before they go stale.”
There is no question that we are experiencing a significant shift in the executive search process, said Ms. Tilley Gill. “Companies seeking to recruit qualified executives must put their best foot forward,” she said. “This translates to all constituents who are involved in the recruitment process to be committed to performing their best in the interviews and presenting their organization as organized, tech-savvy and competitive with their peer companies.”
With unemployment for executive talent under four percent nationally, she added, “the challenge to recruit the most qualified individuals is a race for the company that offers the most interesting positions with the most competitive compensation and benefit structure,” she said. “Further, executive candidates require full transparency, specifically in what they are expected to achieve in performance and whether it is realistic based on the company’s historical performance.”
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media