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  • Ana McGovern

The Anatomy of a Hire

As a recruiter with more than a few miles of recruitment under my belt, I have reflected on and analysed many a hire over the years. Through this analysis, some valuable insights have surfaced on the elements that make for a successful hire. If you are hiring for a pivotal role: a lead scientist in your small biotech, a key account person that will be responsible for opening up a new market for your product or a leadership role, then it is important to know that your goal is to attract top talent with a strong fit that aligns with your unique culture.

Goal setting and project management. It is important to know what you are looking for and that there is cohesive alignment between line manager and HR person on the ideal fit. I see this disconnect frequently. The job description is usually very general, usually based on a template but the preferences of the line manager (not detailed in the JD) are the specifics needed for a successful search. I give accolades to my HR contacts that suggest I meet with the line manager to get a full picture of what is required. Once you have a strong profile on what are the important must haves for this new hire you can put together a recruitment plan that works. I have seen many hires go south when the net is cast so broad and the thought is we will know what we like when we see it. Set the goal of what you want first and manage the project, accordingly. This leads to great results, saves time and avoids chaos.

Active recruitment vs passive recruitment: How many pivotal searches are managed successfully by putting up a posting on a job board? There is place for LinkedIn and zip recruiter but If you are looking for the top 4 or 5 candidates in a market for the role to choose from I guarantee you those 4 or 5 candidates are not going to voluntarily apply to your posted role. You may get lucky and find one who by chance was restructured or hears about the opportunity from a friend and fits the role, but they are rarely, if ever, the best on the market. If the role is mission critical to the company, don’t rely on luck because although it may feel like the economical solution, a professional and thorough active search by a recruiter will beat out a posting any day. It will also save you time and money in the long run. It is the vast difference between passive and active recruitment. I can’t count the many times I have been asked to take over a passive search and found the candidate within two weeks. It is not unusual for the selected candidate to admit that they were aware of the role but never applied, but once they have been given an understanding what the company has to offer, they are eager to apply. The conversation is what grabs their attention and the accessibility of having more details. How great the person is that they would report to, the strong succession plan, the pipeline of new products etc. these are the details that most candidates really want to know but won’t find the answers to in a job description. Having the conversation gives them the data they need to move forward.

Qualify, Qualify, Qualify: Another common obstacle to a successful hire is a disconnect between what matters to the candidate in terms of offer. This is an awkward conversation at times between candidate and prospective employer, but not so when you a have a recruiter to act as middleman or an HR person who knows how to handle the conversation with grace and tact. A good first question is “in terms of compensation what is really important to you?” That question alone often prompts a candidate to share their present compensation details. It is an invitation to be frank and then they might mention that salary is not as important to them as vacation time or that salary is everything. Better to know these details earlier than later. As we all know, there are often limitations that are beyond our control when it comes to package. This approach make them feel that you are trying to put together the best offer you can because you value them.

In Conclusion, it is a very competitive marketplace and attracting the best candidates for your role has never been harder. Primo candidates are usually in a very good position and are not wasting their time looking through the “wanted ads.” When you enlist a recruiter, ensure that the recruiter knows what is important to HR and line management. Ensure the recruiter is equipped to market the role on its strengths. That they have the business acumen to develop a peer to peer relationship with your prospective candidates. It is then, that you will gain access to the best on the market, those candidates who are hidden in their own success.

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