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Momentum:Recognize that searches follow a particular cycle and ensure that your search does not lose valuable momentum. There is usually a lot of energy within an organization at the beginning of a search, as the possibilities of bringing a great hire on board are imagined. When the position is initially posted, you can expect a significant level of interest, especially if you have outlined and implemented an aggressive sourcing plan. As the search goes on, however, people’s energy may wane. Colleagues in your organization will realize how much time a search can take, and the number of candidates interested in the position will diminish. It is your job to make sure that the energy and momentum carry through until the successful completion of the search. Accomplishing this goal requires an ongoing effort to generate a great candidate pool, reviewing applications regularly, and moving through the interview process efficiently.
Candidate Consideration:Treat your candidates well. Be sure to put yourself in the candidates’ shoes—recruiting is as much a marketing opportunity as a means to a hire. Remember that for any given position, only 1 candidate will be hired, but the other 100 or so could become donors, board members, or future hires. At the very least, your goal should be to have every candidate say, “I know I didn’t get that job, but I really loved learning more about XYZ organization and was very impressed by the interview process they led.”
Reference Checking:Don’t underestimate the power of reference checking. Too many organizations are so exhausted by the time they identify a strong candidate and are so anxious to “close the deal” that they overlook the incredible value of learning from others about their top candidate’s past performance. It certainly can be frustrating when you learn that your top candidate is not going to be the right fit for your position, but it is much more advantageous, both emotionally and financially, to come to that conclusion before the hire is made than two or three or six months later. Remember also that what a reference says about the candidate you end up hiring can be extremely helpful as you bring the new hire on board and help him or her to be successful in his or her new role.
Timetable:Don’t hire too quickly! It is important to resist the tendency to let your urgency to fill a position lead to an abbreviated process that lacks rigor and consistency. Similarly, don’t hire too slowly! Make sure that your process moves efficiently through the different stages, and resist the urge to “hold out” for an even better candidate to come along. This strategy will almost always lead to a prolonged and often unsuccessful search. Knowing in advance exactly what you are looking for and what you could compromise on will help you identify when a candidate will meet your needs.