Finding the right needle in a haystack full of needles
A client recently compared searching for the right candidate to hunting for a needle in a hay stack. As much as we can appreciate the metaphor, and as much as we hate to disagree with a client, we think there’s a better metaphor.
If you have the right tool, anyone with half a brain — AND a really good sized magnet — can find a needle in a haystack.
So that isn’t a service we think would differentiate us.
But, to continue the metaphor, let’s say there were 200 different needles in the haystack: shoemakers’ needles, sailmakers’ needles, tailors’ and surgeons’ and acupuncturists’ needles, a few hypodermics, plus some embroidery needles — well then — THEN we could truly differentiate ourselves as the people who could spot all the different types of needles and their applications and their key value to the person looking for the perfect needle AND THEN could can help our clients identify exactly the right type of needle for the job at hand, and then work with them to acquire it.
Now, being able to do all THAT is a special skill. And that’s what we’re really good at. And that’s what makes us different.
Helping our clients determine exactly what kind of needle they need — and then identifying the top two or three of those specific needles in the local haystack.
Our niche, precision focus means that we keep track of the needles as they move around in the haystack, and that we are also well positioned to almost constantly evaluate the relative merits of one needle over another. And thus lay our hands on the right needle almost immediately.
And then we start arranging meetings. Matching the needle to the application at hand, so to speak. Testing it in the process for fit and finish.
As you might imagine, we arrange a lot of meetings.
Remarkably, over about twenty years, about one of every two of the meetings we arranged resulted in employment.
And that is what makes us very, very special! Especially when you consider that the industry average runs between one-in-five and one-in-ten meetings resulting in employment. Add that to the fact that our average candidate stays with the company where we placed them — in these rapidly changing times — for over five years — well — you’re starting to get the picture.
The process that creates the remarkable results
If hiring the right person every time was easy, no one would ever get fired or leave. (And we’d be unemployed instead of busy.) The truth is, making the right hiring decision that results in long-term — 3+ year — highly-successful hires is very rare in the high tech industry.
And yet amidst the occasional carnage, wild ups and downs of companies like Nortel, who were a major client for many years, the buyouts, the failures and acquisitions, and the pure dot com craziness, our record over two full decades has stayed pretty stable: in an industry where the average is around 2 years, our average candidate stays with our client for over 5 years.
The reason it’s so tough to make the right call is that the client can rarely see the candidate “on the job” before they start. And by then, it’s too late.
Without getting into too much detail, essentially we first do an extremely thorough job of understanding our client’s company, the role and responsibilities, including the CSFs, the KPIs, the possible failure points, and the person to whom candidates will report.
Once we narrow the candidate pool based on the superficial qualifications (experience doing x, knows how to manage y, degree in z) we begin to engage candidates in a fashion that will mimic the role — and assess their responses against an ideal model. The balance of the process, with our clients’ involvement in the interviewing and selection process also seeks to mimic the role’s requirements.
By the time the process nears completion, both sides have a really good idea of what it’s like to work together — and we’ve eliminated most, if not all, of the major failure points.
Typically at that point the client turns to us and says, “Wow — I can’t make a bad decision here. Two candidates — both excellent. Who do you think is my best choice?”
If you’d like to see how this process might help you in your next important hiring decision, please don’t hesitate to call me to discuss.
Gavin Pitchford, Chief Talent Officer