11 Steps to a strong recruitment process & appointments that matter
No business can doubt that attracting top talent assets is a fundamental part of any successful business.
Whether its for a C-Suite appointment or a critical operational role, it’s crucial that you attract and retain individuals that genuinely make a valuable difference to the bottom line directly or otherwise.
For this to happen, its often best to work with a Recruitment Agency, Talent Acquisition consultancy or Executive Search practice. Equally ideally one that has a strong tried and tested, yet flexible, creative & formal process.
By example, internally we run a 60-stage process that enables us to unearth hard to reach and often untouched individuals that are a critical asset to one of our clients competitors. Naturally attracting someone like this also dislodges a competitor’s client grasp or market share but has far additional, reaching tactical benefits.
The process of attracting a candidate typically involves the Recruitment Agency supporting a Line or Hiring manager all of whom work in conjunction with either a HR Consultant, business partner, HR Director, or board member.
It is crucial that the Recruitment Agency can take a strong brief, but more importantly it is their ability to ask the questions that are often missed.
Either way it’s all about finding the right individual though a tailored search & outreach process designed to identify the skills, market exposure, attributes, experiences, knowledge and of course personality that will hit the ground running in your company and genuinely deliver.
The 11 steps in a recruitment process that matter
Selecting a Recruitment Agency with a battle-hardened process, agile by nature but strict enough to ensure compliance is hard when looking in. Equally all processes are linked to the software solutions that enable them as well as the people that manage them, and when dealing with people, a consultant’s experience & authority is crucial.
No 1. Identify & Qualify the Client requirement
For any recruiter to deliver closely to the client needs the brief must be clear & I’m not just talking about what the client wants, but also what they don’t want, dislike or otherwise.
Recruiters are often so happy to get an assignment in that they begin prematurely which often leads to half baked bread & a stigma being created in the recruitment industry.
A detailed brief is required:
- Reason for hire – New role, replacement, team growth
- Purpose of appointment
- Reporting Structure
- Travel (perhaps post COVID-19 pandemic)
- Direct / indirect reports
- Industries worked in
- Which companies this person may reside in?
- Which companies not to approach (Client partners)
- Who has the client already considered?
- Key candidate performance indicators
- Red flags
- Who would they like to employ but have not been able to attract?
- What channels have been utilised to capture data; Advertising, Job-boards, Linked post
- What & who has been considered
- Interview’s to date
- Interview process; 2 stage, presentation, business plan
- Where a client’s most successful people have come from
- Personality traits Vs Client culture
2. Define and implement a recruitment plan
Once the need is defined, it’s time to shape a plan of action.
Depending on the type of role, a recruitment plan can take many forms and directions. Be it a new or replacement appointment, an existing market territory or an expansion into new. Or on the flip side a technical vs management role.
The process will cover everything from where to fish, who to partner with, who & how to approach, the attraction methodology, the assessment stages, the on-boarding methods and tactics to reduce risk (I.e. counter offers or otherwise).
There are many things that will dictate how you go about attracting candidates to the opportunity, such as:
- If you are a new business or well established
- If you have a strong employee review score or not
- If the organisation has a strong history
- If the business is profitable or struggling
- If the salary on offer is competitive
- If the business is growing or not
- If the business is respected and well known
- The current market conditions (Candidate or employer market)
and of course, many other factors.
Equally it is very important to discuss and define the hard and soft skills the appointment will require; this is often a reflection of the desires from those hiring or part of the reporting structure.
3. Creation of both a recruiter and candidate brief
Believe it or not, this is an often-over-looked important admin, planning & coordination task that if not completed correctly makes it very easy to create an imbalance where either the recruiter or candidate have the wrong understanding of the role and what the client is looking and measuring for.
A well written job description is key, it both attracts and ensures that all candidates have the same brief and therefore means that the candidate playing field is fair and can be measured accordingly.
Preparation of a comprehensive job description often requires an external company (recruiter) or individual (management consultancy) to ask the most obvious questions that are often overlooked.
At the very least it should include:
- The job title
- Salary & package including bonus
- Who will the role report too?
- How many reports the role will have
- The main duties of the position
- What travel if any is required
- A description of the business
- The skills and attributes the role requires
- Any qualification or specific knowledge required
- Role targets
- Understanding of the ideal start date
- Interview & Assessment process
There are many more elements of course, but it’s equally important that the job description sells the business and attracts the candidate to the role as well as helping them to see what a great career move your company would make.
4. Advertising the role
As an Exec Search business, often when our clients are looking to make a senior level hire it presents a great opportunity to utilise the assignment as a means of marketing – both to attract a candidate and to promote the business with respected adverts in the right publications and of course online.
In this respect, the recruitment / search business’ purpose is to take the collection of applicants and to systematically assess, measure and qualify each one and in doing so to form a shortlist of candidates.
The shortlist is typically made up of targeted headhunted individuals and supported by the best from the advertisement.
We always ask if our clients have firstly exhausted their internal options before instructing a search business or the assignment reaching the media.
Be warned advertising is not as effective as it once was and it is very expensive. We typically advise our clients that the most efficient way to attract the right individuals to the opportunity is to specifically target their competitors best individuals proactively and to leverage their aspirations in order to bring them into the mix.
5. Review all candidates
Regardless of how or whether the individuals are already known by the recruitment or executive search specialist, it’s crucial that a thorough and calculated assessment is carried out to move them from a Longlisted to a Shortlisted status.
The typical stats for us over the years are:
- 100x Longlisted & Reviewed
- 76x Evaluated
- 48x Assessments
- 14x Shortlisted
- 12x peer reviews
- 9x candidate references
- 3x Final shortlisted
- 3x Client Presentations
Further more our typical ratios are 3:3:2:1
(1st stage interview / 2nd stage interview / final stage interview / Offer) * We are often in a position where a client is struggling to weigh up between two equally strong candidates, but as we explain, this is a great position to be in. On many occasions the client see’s value in hiring both and thus a new post is created and filled immediately thus offering double the value for half the time invested.
There will be many profiles to review and circumstances to consider for each. Remember when dealing with people rather than a product, each is very different & they can at any time change their mind.
The assessment stages come in many shapes and forms, but it starts at the very first call to see how professional the individual is, their email manner and conduct etc. Typically, this results in a recruiter interview whereby we delve deep to really understand the candidate, how they operate, their approach, wins & losses, strengths and weaknesses.
We also must assess situational elements and measure risk, for example:
- A candidate that is under assessment with 5 other roles.
- A candidate that will only move for an unrealistic salary increase
- A candidate that has not stayed in their previous roles very long.
- A candidate that through investigation and rapport building we feel a move is unlikely or perhaps that the opportunity will be utilise a method of leverage to gain a pay rise with their currently employer.
6. Interview and Assessment rounds.
Ok so that time has come to dig into the assessments now that the data & candidate sourcing elements are complete. Whilst there will now be a wealth of statistical and analytical data at this point, it’s very important for any good recruiter to look at the assignment dataset and to ask themselves what is missing.
Naturally against any job spec there are certain things that must be established. It is also important that all candidates are measured equally and fairly in terms of the key measurements against the original brief.
What is covered?
The assessment / recruiter interview process typically starts off with a scheduled call with the view to genuinely get under the skin of the candidate’s career detail to date. We typically start back to front, from the point of finishing school, early interests, first roles etc where we look to establish a candidate’s natural career direction or pursuit. As we take a closer look at each move, we are able to build a picture of the candidates attributes and build a skills framework.
As we come closer to the more present roles, we dig deeper into the detail which is often at the point that a candidate has taken a promotion or increased responsibility.
The level of pre-thought planning for this call by the recruiter makes enormous difference in the level of detail that is gathered.
Taking the right approach
It is important that the nature, approach & conduct of the call is appropriate too as an assessor needs to:
- Maintain candidate interest
- Build a strong rapport with the candidate
- Gain the respect of the candidate
- Inspire and attract the candidate
- Encourage the candidate to open up
We take a ‘thorough & rigorous yet friendly questioning approach’, where we show a genuine interest in understanding the moves made, the results achieved along with the learning curves along the way. During all of this, we are also keeping a close eye on how the candidate naturally aligns to the brief not only in terms of their skills and vertical exposure but also whether the company and personal cultural and values closely match.
Once we feel that the candidate could be a good fit, we typically where appropriate move to a more detailed level of investigation. We will often type up out notes following an assessment and go back to a candidate to clarify certain elements or gather certain facts.
Naturally COVID-19 has meant that we have adapted how assessments are carried out and rather than face to face interviews – Video / Zoom, Goto meeting, Google Meetup or otherwise is often used.
7. External assessment before shortlist
Depending on the assignment we may feel that an external technical or otherwise assessment would prove valuable to our decisioning before we decide on our FINAL shortlisting for presentation to our client.
We partner with several organisations who offer:
- Custom designed assessments
- Technical assessments
- Leadership assessments
- Psychological & attribute level assessments
8. Background checks & peer reviews (Indirect referencing)
Over the years it’s always surprised us how few clients or recruiters utilise such a powerful tool. Indirect candidate peer reviews is a form of referencing to understand who in your network will testify to the achievements of the said individual. You will find that as this is a phone call rather than a written reference, you will often receive a more honest answer and some cases may invalidate a candidates stated experience.
Any candidate can twist and blur the lines in their favour, especially when things are difficult to validate. Peer reviews enable us to get close to the truth and we can screen the additional facts against our red-flag system.
Background checks also form a part of this stage; Where relevant a criminal record check is required, especially so for our Financial Services and Fintech clients. This sometimes includes financial / credit checks.
Insight can also be gained from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to make sure that the candidate represents and conducts themselves in a positive manner alighted to our clients.
9. Presenting to a client
As there is quite a lot of detail at this point, a good rapport is needed to have a professional heart to heart conversation. It is important that a client / employer understands and values the data which has led to the final candidate shortlist.
At this point we go through a full S.W.O.T discussion on each. When we talk about Threats, we are relating to elements that may prevent a candidate from accepting an offer or may delay a start. Such as:
- Counter offers
- Other roles being assessed for
- Location & Travel
- Flexibility required
- Shares in other companies
- Notice periods
- Restrictive covenants
Furthermore, a client should understand what has motivated the candidate to surface. Be that a new challenge, a promotion, a pay increase or just a cultural or managerial misalignment with their current employer so that they can help the candidate see how this will help them to achieve their aspirations.
10. The Job offer.
We are finally at that stage but let’s not presume that just because a candidate is offered a role that they will accept it.
This is where having a middleman so to speak really comes in handy. We typically know what a candidate is looking for and what a client wants to pay for their skills. Often a client wants to pay less, and a candidate wants more than the market rate, especially for a proactive tactical move. As such the rapport gained with the candidate at this point comes into its own, where we help them to visualise the opportunity and appreciate how it helps them achieve their career aspirations & that the salary alone is not the only factor to consider.
All of that said, as a broker at this point, we can help the two parties to reach a point whereby a win-win situation occurs.
Typically, once a verbal offer is then accepted, we brief our clients, and an offer letter is produced detailing:
- Benefits Inc bonus where appropriate
- Start date
- Notice period
- Holiday entitlement
- Vehicle / Allowance
This will be accompanied by an employment contract and often a employee handbook covering various policy elements, such as: sickness, harassment & maternity etc.
Further negotiation can occur at this point as the candidate reviews the terms of the employment contract. It’s often up to the line manager or HR team to determine which details can be negotiated and which cannot.
11. Hiring & Candidate Onboarding
Once the candidate signs their contract, we then follow our client’s official process. This will include referencing, health and medical forms, gathering details such as driver’s license, passport, Proof of Right to Work, Educational certificates or proof of the same.
Once that is all done, a good recruiter looks to hand over the relationship and to ensure the new employee is connected to the company and the right people and thus feels welcomed.
The many facets, skills, processes, knowledge, and level of planning required in such a process is made even more challenging when you consider that the product is a person. Of which each have their own motivators, viewpoints, values, and requirements. This is very often why it’s best outsourced to a recruitment agency or executive search partner who have a proven track record of achievement. They will have been able to step back, optimize, tweak and improve their process over a vast variety of appointments and sectors. In this line of work there is rarely a ‘one size, fits all’ approach.
Nonetheless at this point a client should feel very confident in the appointee’s abilities and that together they will achieve great things.
If you would like to find out how we can help, please reach out.