Assembling an immaculate team can be a peak experience. I've been lucky to do it as a hiring manager, as a recruiter, and as an owner. It's exciting: create a vision, meet inspiring new people, feel the energy, watch pieces fall into place. Champagne glasses clink.
It can also be a miserable slog. Stop and go, budgets shifting, interviews postponed. Decisions by committee. Momentum lost, top candidate signs with another company. Murphy's Law.
The key component of a talent search, of course, is talent. There must be someone involved with the cultural connectedness, influence and understanding to deliver it.
That's a separate topic though, because most organizations struggle through the recruiting process, even with no shortage of relevant candidates.
Why? 3 reasons:
1. NO PROCESS.
Should be easy, right? Pull together some people, interview them, pick one.
No. Most of the time, filling a key role takes 3x longer than the hiring manager’s estimation. The company might be emotionally committed to filling the role, but not logistically committed.
They feel the pain of that gap in the org chart, and they love the idea of having a great new team member, but they haven’t roadmapped it.
The more people you involve in the recruiting process, the more likely each of them will run into this problem: simply not knowing what to do next. And if something surprising happens, the whole thing freezes. Everyone is awaiting an answer from someone else.
Some companies wing it with an "it'll work itself out" approach. Others overcorrect drastically. Pretty soon we're dragging candidates through 9 rounds of international panel interviews across 5 months.
Put somebody in charge.
Not somebody who's overwhelmed. Somebody who's relentless.
Create: timeline > list of stakeholders (as few as possible) > interview cadence.
Visualize the ending: your offer letter template is ready. You're prepared to deliver it verbally. The benefits package is PDF'd. In case of counter offer, there's a backup plan.
You'll soon meet a candidate that you'll fall in love with. Now it's getting real, so there will be compelling reasons to slow down a bit, pause to reconsider, have them meet 10 more people... just to be sure. This is the perfect way to lose your best candidate. More on that below.
2. NO CLARITY.
Job descriptions are cool, but candidate profiles are the real jump starter. It's like vision boarding, but with people. When you can picture what you want, you are energized to go out and get it.
If the company doesn’t have a singular vision for who they need in a role, spaghetti starts flying toward the wall.
Friends / colleagues / employees might be referring great candidates, but if there’s nothing to measure those people against, activity halts.
Now everyone realizes it’s going to take 3 more meetings to create clarity. They lose energy. Your hire is now officially backburnered.
Identify a benchmark candidate. An aspirational figure.
Maybe they work for someone else, maybe they exist in your memory, maybe they're unavailable for this role.
It might be a blend of 2 people. ("We need Jane’s skills with Jack’s taste.")
Describe this person on paper.
3. NO URGENCY.
Your recruiter should be able to kick off the search with:
A) A quick “here’s how this works” overview. (Here's how we'll start, here's what we'll need from you, and when.)
B) A slate of relevant profiles, almost immediately. (Shouldn't take more than a week. We do 48 hours.)
If your recruiter can't deliver these two things off the bat, it doesn’t mean they’re a bad recruiter. They might just be unorganized, stretched thin, or working outside their core competency. Unfortunately, all of those things = slowness.
Whether internally or with outside help, make sure you're screening, within days, people who excite you. This will get you thinking and calibrating.
Once you have favorites, make moves. Thoughtfully, but not slowly.
If you love a candidate, it’s likely that someone else does too.
In Ed Latimore's words, “may you have the patience to wait an eternity and the decisiveness to act in an instant.”
Even in economic climates like this, quality professionals know what they want. And they have options. They’ll gravitate to the company that strongly signals alignment with their own goals.
Recap: Make your hiring life easier. Process + Clarity + Urgency. Go get 'em.