Secrets to High Growth C-Suite Hiring

When the pandemic finally reaches its end, companies may start to hire in great numbers. If they do, don’t let down your guard, says Chris Murdock, co-founder and chief sourcing officer at IQTalent Partners, in a new report. Among Mr. Murdock’s golden tips for high-quality, high-volume hiring: prioritize attitude over soft skills, check your biases and tend to your pipeline.

June 16, 2020 – With many people expecting business to boom after the COVID-19 pandemic clears, bringing on new employees could turn out to be a momentous and somewhat intimidating process. “Employees are your greatest asset. After all, they decide the direction of your company’s future and are the building blocks of company culture,” said Chris Murdock, co-founder and chief sourcing officer of IQTalent Partners, in a new report. “You should make all hiring decisions with care, but this is especially true for decisions when working in high volume.”

The IQTalent Partners report offered the following high growth hiring practices to help find high-quality employees en masse:

Don’t Lower Your Standards

“It’s all too tempting to lower your standards to fill a position quickly,” Mr. Murdock said. “When your current team is pulled in multiple directions and drowning in work, you might feel you have no choice but to fill the position as fast as possible to keep your team happy and meet customer expectations. As difficult as it might be, resist this temptation.”

“Filling a position with a candidate who isn’t a good fit and crossing your fingers that they’ll thrive in your organization is risky, wishful thinking,” said Mr. Murdock. “You may end up wasting thousands of dollars recruiting and onboarding an employee who’ll only stay a few months and add little value to your organization.” The cost of a bad hire can reach up to 30 percent of an employee’s first-year salary, according to the U.S. Labor Department. “During this time of rapid growth, this is a cost you can’t afford,” Mr. Murdock said. “It pays to take your time when hiring — even during times of rapid growth.”

Prioritize Attitude and Soft Skills Over Technical Skills

Hire for attitude first, then focus on skills, Mr. Murdock said. “Employees can always learn technical skills on the job, but teaching soft skills is often more difficult,” he said. “Companies who are experiencing rapid growth require a specific type of attitude in their employees. An attitude of helpfulness, grit and agility are important to capitalize on the growth.”

Employees who’ll be successful and add value to your fast-growing company should be prepared to lend a hand where it’s needed even if it’s not part of their job description, according to a past IGTalent Partners report. “They should demonstrate top-notch critical thinking skills and take initiative to solve problems,” Mr. Murdock said. “These traits take more time to cultivate than most technical skills. And, this is time your growing organization doesn’t have when hiring en masse.”

Chris Murdock is a veteran of the recruiting and talent acquisition industry with 20 years of experience spanning across multiple industries. He founded IQTalent Partners in 2009 and now leads search execution and client relationships for the firm. Prior to establishing IQTalent, Mr. Murdock worked with Yahoo!’s internal executive recruiting team, gaining in-depth experience across the technology recruiting sphere. He began his career working for Heidrick & Struggles and TMP Worldwide.

Soft skills are one of the most difficult to assess in a candidate. Mr. Murdock offered a few creative ways to screen for soft skills:

  • Ask current employees to list the soft skills that would lead to success at your company. Ask for detailed responses and their reasoning
  • Ask candidates scenario-focused questions
  • Have candidates rank themselves in a list of your company’s most valued soft skills
  • Have references rank the candidate in a list of your company’s most valued soft skills
  • Administer online tests that validate these soft skills
  • Ask a candidate where they feel they could improve their soft skills
  • Host a group interview with some type of gamified simulation

“Remember, attitude is everything when it’s all hands on deck during stages of rapid growth,” Mr. Murdock said.

Acknowledge Your Biases — Then Check Them

“It’s important that company leaders and anyone involved in hiring be honest with themselves about their unconscious biases,” Mr. Murdock said. “While often not malicious, everyone has some degree of bias. The sooner you recognize it, the sooner you can take intentional actions to overcome it and make sure you’re being checked on it.”

Related: Is Your Business Ready for the Talent Storm?

“Unconscious biases within the hiring process can destroy your company’s chances of finding a valuable employee by turning off certain candidates, reducing your candidate pool and limiting your talent pipeline,” he said.

Check your biases with these practical steps:

  • Do not include gender-specific language in job descriptions. Example: Certain words are labeled as masculine or feminine-coded. “Assertive” is a masculine-coded word while “nurturing is a feminine-code word. Try using this gender decoder tool.
  • Do not include unnecessary qualifications. Example: Is it absolutely necessary that the candidate has a bachelor’s degree? Consider accepting relevant experience in place of a degree.
  • Use blind screening software. This software allows recruiters to review applications without demographic data. This process will improve your chances of including the most relevant candidates in your interview pool. A study performed by the American Economic Association found that “white sounding” names like Emily Walsh and Greg Baker got nearly 50 percent more callbacks than candidates with black-sounding names like Lakisha Washington and Jamal Jones. Researchers determined that having a “white-sounding” name is worth as much as eight years of work experience.

Related: Conducting Executive Searches During a Pandemic

“Practicing blind resume reviewing could reduce this bias,” Mr. Murdock said. “Don’t allow unconscious biases to prevent you from hiring a great employee. Start by acknowledging your biases.”

Focus On Your Pipeline

“Be proactive before the hiring boom starts,” Mr. Murdock said. “Unemployment is still relatively high, but those out of a job are sure to be looking soon. Any HR manager knows that the high-volume hiring process isn’t as simple as knowing how many people you need and finding that exact number.”

Positive Jobs Report Shows Upturn in Employment
With businesses across the U.S. continuing to reopen, last week’s labor report reveals a stunning turnaround as employers add 2.5 million jobs in May. Let’s take a closer look at the numbers as search consultants from ZurickDavis, International Executive Search Federation, and Borrer Executive Search weigh in.

“For so many businesses, your hiring plan changed with the unexpected,” he said. “Right now is the perfect time to focus on your candidate pipeline projection for the rest of the year, so you’re ready to welcome the number of candidates you actually need, along with the number of candidates you should expect to screen and interview to narrow down to the number you need.”

Get Comfortable with Giving Control to Others

In a small company, the CEO is often involved in all hiring decisions, but as a company grows, it becomes more difficult. “Learning to trust others with big decisions is a difficult but critical step in expansion,” said Mr. Murdock. “Any high performing and successful CEO understands the importance of delegation.”

“Before you can get comfortable with giving control to others, you need to find a trusted partner through the anticipated post-COVID hiring surge,” Mr. Murdock said. “It’s a tumultuous time and HR teams of small growing companies have too much on their plates as it is. Consider augmenting your recruitment team with an outsourced option. IQTalent Partners’ unique hourly pricing model is more affordable than you think. With our team, there are no minimums. This means you’ll never pay for the time you don’t use, unlike traditional RPOs whose services can be rigid, inflexible and pricey.”

Related: Conducting a Job Search During a Global Pandemic

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor  – Hunt Scanlon Media

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