Headhunted Shortlist – Testing Executive Talent In The Marketplace

What do you do when you’re thinking about replacing a current employee who is underperforming? Or have a position to fill and an internal candidate who meets the requirements of the role, but you want to make sure you’re hiring the right person for the job?

It’s important not to rush your decision for obvious reasons, but pressure can take over and it’s not always a simple process.

There’s no harm in testing and comparing the skill set of other available talent in the current marketplace before hiring. That way, you can take action knowing you’ve got the best person to meet your needs.

I discussed these scenarios, and our Headhunted Shortlist package, with Brett Jarman, Founder and Executive Producer of Experts On Air, the producers of the Arete Podcast..

You can listen to the podcast here or continue reading below. 

Testing the waters

We had an assignment like this where the CFO of a mining company resigned very quickly, so they brought in a contractor to fill the role temporarily. Now, instead of hiring the contractor as an internal candidate permanently, the company engaged us to map the market, run a headhunting campaign and deliver a fully telephone screen shortlist within 20 working days, which we do for 7.5% of package.

This enables the employer to get a sense of the calibre of available talent in the current market and compare that to the internal applicants. That way, if they do offer the permanent position to the internal candidate, they can do so knowing they have the best person for the job.

Many organisations want their business culture to include promoting from within and offer opportunities to their employees to develop their own teams. Of course, that’s a great idea, but sometimes it’s not always best to fill a role internally. The last thing you’d want to do as a company is to prematurely promote somebody into a role they are not ready for, or not capable of delivering the best possible returns for your stakeholders.

Making the right decision

On the flip side, this process of testing the market waters can also be used when you need to terminate an employee because they’re not performing, but you’re unsure of the level of talent available for a replacement. Perhaps a scarce skill set is needed to do the job well, or from a location perspective, it might be difficult to hire somebody better.

It may be that you go to the market, and after having researched and engaged with candidates, find that there isn’t anyone better to do the job. So, the best decision for your company is to continue with the incumbent and look at ways to either improve behaviour or skill set. 

Once again, we offer this under our 7.5% model, delivering a shortlist within 20 working days so the employer can make an informed decision about whether to go ahead with the termination.

Finding the best skill set

For some reason, many companies think they have unicorns for employees so nobody else could possibly do their job. Maybe because that person has been working for them for a long time, or they just don’t think there are people with better skill sets who will be able to replicate what their competitors are doing.

More often than not, the client is left feeling quite relieved that they can proceed knowing the right thing to do, which is to terminate and get somebody better in that role.

When we’re carrying out research to replace a current employee, everything is confidential until the employer makes a decision. So the internal person wouldn’t know work was being done to find a potential replacement.

In the process of headhunting, we tell the potential candidates we have been retained by our client to recruit for a specific role and are unable to disclose who the employer is because of an internal situation they need to resolve first. Generally, candidates are very comfortable with that.

The benefits of using an external recruiter

When we run Headhunted Shortlists for these two scenarios, it’s very important that both we and the organisation are strategic about what gets revealed and when. That’s why I think it would be impossible to use an internal recruiter, because they simply can't have the confidentiality that’s needed. If an internal recruiter is calling potential candidates, they’re representing the company so the cat’s already out of the bag. However, we can maintain absolute confidentiality until the time is right to reveal the employer.

Another benefit of using our 7.5% solution is that, once we deliver that short list, the client can make multiple hires from that list, either at that time or any time in the future, and there's no further fees paid. A typical recruiter would ask for 15% of salary per person hired, but we don’t see why we should get paid twice for only doing one piece of work.

How does the headhunted shortlist work?

We're retained by our clients to go out and headhunt very specific talent for vacancies whether they're at an executive or a board level. Typically, the roles have salaries of $150k+, and they are leadership roles. But, they could be any role in any industry, anywhere in Australia. We have done some international work, but more often than not it's in Australia.

We use a recruitment methodology developed by an American named Lou Adler called Performance Based Hiring. His philosophy was that the best predictor of future performance is past performance. So if you can find somebody who's done it before, they've done it well and they're motivated to do it again, they're much more likely to be successful.

To start, we meet with the client to get a brief of the role, including what the actual quantifiable key deliverables of the role are over the first three, six, twelve months and beyond. Typically, a position description will describe ‘motherhood statements’ - the key responsibilities, attributes and qualifications, but it won't dive down into what the person is actually being employed to do.

We then map the client’s industry and competitors and seek out the required talent by calling people in their workplace. By having that performance profile, we can clearly articulate the role, and if they’re not interested, we ask them for referrals.

Once we've captured their CVs we then take them through a very comprehensive telephone screen interview to look for evidence that they've done it before, done it well, and are motivated to do it again.

At the end of 20 working days, we sit down with the client and deliver a minimum of three telephone-interviewed candidates, but typically between five and twelve, to be interviewed by the client. We also give feedback on what the market thinks of the business, the role, the salary and anything else that might be of value.

It's extremely fast, it's very inexpensive when you compare it to traditional executive search companies, and we guarantee to deliver. If we don't deliver a minimum of three candidates you’re delighted to interview, then we refund the retainer.

Find out more about our Headhunted Shortlists here or contact me directly on 07 3010 9220 or richardt@areteexecutive.com.au for more information.

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