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Anatomy of an Executive Search – The Rainmaker

Our business is growing and I am amped about it. We have new products and tools coming out that are going to blow the lid off of strategic talent acquisition, and it’s been a long time coming. We just hit year six. We are profitable, stable, and the brand is growing. I have the team partnered up with PR resources, marketing resources, and we are getting ready for a nice direct push. Our advisors are ready for the incoming work that has us booked up though the fall, and I have several people on backup as we need it.

But direct marketing and sales is not the only way we are growing this business. We have learned that our services and technology is a strategic advantage for HR service providers that sell to the same market that we do. They obviously don’t sell strategic consulting – they position payroll services, outplacement, recruiting, legal services, technology and so on. None of them are competitors, because we just don’t have that many.

But they have plenty.

Its no secret that we offer exclusivity. Its a principal we had since I founded the business. I didn’t realize how powerful that was until HR service providers had tools that their competitors did not have – our tools. And now we have an opportunity to leverage that. We are hunting for providers of technology and services typically purchased by HR organizations to buy our services and Pando technologies, and make it part of their own service offering. In return – we don’t offer it to their competitors. Ah ha – a sales differential. Ah ha – a retention tool. Nice.

But these deals are huge, multi-faceted, multiple years, and full of intellectual property pitfalls. It’s not a $X0,000 annual license for a technology that needs to be renewed each year. I need a rainmaker. Someone who can chase down the safari sized deals, and make it work. I know that I am instrumental to the deal, but I have a business to lead too. I have to find a rainmaker that can get these deals started. It won’t take many to grow the business, but I have feeling we are going to plenty of companies say “we can sell it, but we won’t buy it.” I am not looking for channel sales 😉

It’s not going to be easy, but I know it’s straightforward. This is not my first rodeo in finding executives – and that is what this job is. An executive who has savvy, expertise, can close and has been there and done what others think they do. I want Alec Baldwin in Glengary Glenross. Coffee is for closers only.

So as I was preparing for this, I thought “why not blog about this and tell people how I am doing it?” I tell people in a closed door session what I would do, and it’s not a secret, so why not expose it this way…so here is blog #1

Who did you buy from?
First item on the agenda? Make a killer list of my contacts who probably deal with these folks. I have had a few interactions with folks directly, and of course they are on the list. I have good network of procurement officers at corporations, legal folks who navigate deals, and of course CHROs and heads of staffing. Turned that list over to my research team, and appointments are being set up. My approach is tell the story – here is how my business is going to grow, who can help me do that, and don’t point me in the direction of some wanna-be. Who did you sign a multi-year, $X00,000 to $X,000,000 technology and services deal with that you were impressed with?

Right? Did you really think I was gonna send a bunch of LinkedIn Inmails? Not for this gig. I want to hear “they were awesome – they will love this Andrew”. I had a call the other day – and got two leads that do exactly that, and I have a handful of more calls setup.

What do they need to have to make them effective?
But here is the other part of the conversation – I am asking these buyers what the rainmaker needs for them to be able to buy from them. I have worked up an assessment and list of competencies and experiences (featured in the blog after the next one) but I don’t know everything. I have recruited people like this before, but I never HIRED anyone like this before. So I am finding out what I need to add to my assessment.

What’s next? A “description” of the role that someone will actually read and respond too. But it’s not really for them…it’s for me.If I have to lead them, I need a plan and follow it. It’s starts with that initial role design.

The slow death of the ATS

It has to happen. The ATS is on its last legs as a strategic tool to help recruiting organizations. Its killer application-ness has expired, and its a tool its as satisfying as the expense report system.

It is not the technology’s fault – its legislation. In any organization a simple way to process applicants is a requirement, especially if you are processing hundreds or thousands, or in rare cases, millions of applicants. Its this legislation that creates a need for recruiters who seek passive candidates to use tools like Jobs2Web, Avature, TalentCircles, LinkedIn and other CRM savvy products in liue of the ATS so there are not reporting issues later. Some ATS are getting CRM functionality, but slowly – its easier for them to just integrate with CRMs.

So let me cut to it – take your recruiters out of your ATS. Managers or administation can post requisitions, and screening personnel or tools can do the initial setup of who you should screen. Think how wild it would be if somebody else just cherry picked the top 15 candidates from the ATS and pushed them into the CRM, which also held all the passive folks a recruiter was evaluating. 

WHOA. The recruiter does not need to go through the resumes? Guess what – with 300 applicants, do you really think they are? So instead, have someone else do it holitiscally, treat applicants like customers (not a #), and close the black hole. Now have your recruiters (who should be awesome at assessment and selling) spend the majority of their time assessing talent on behalf of the hiring manager, and broadcasting the brand. I find myself saying the same thing over and over – develop competence in scouting, sourcing, recrutiing, and staffing. The ATS is a STAFFING system, so let the staffers use it.

What value does it produce to have someone who can brand a business to a passive candidate use a ATS? They should be investigating. Once they investigate, have the notes stored – and don’t have them spend 20 minutes uploading the notes in the ATS – have someone ELSE do that. We need to stop trying to do everything in the ATS – they were not built that way. Adding documents, notes, etc causes all kinds of technical and legal issues – so stop your work arounds and get a system that is designed for that.

So if recruiters are not using the ATS, what will they do? How about you start with taking notes when they meet with managers and candidates. Make sure they assess holistically. I really don’t care about your method – but I care that they assess, capture and store it somewhere. Easy solution? Email it to someone else, and pay those people to store it correctly. Makes for a nice little metric too. You know what recruiters can’t get out of – taking notes. They can all write, read, and type. So make that the baseline.

Have them come up with questions, get answers, write it down, and make a recommendation. then send to somebody@anything.com with enough information to match it to the requisition.  

The move to CRM (or non ATS) is obvious now. Just like using aggregators for posting jobs, or searching through job boards became obvious. We will start aggregating the knowledge so we can cull through it, and the ATS is not the place to store intelligence on talent.

Focus on Assessment – Integrity

INTEGRITY is a word that is used in many corporate behavioral constructs. It is not unusual for the 12 or 15 behaviors of a Fortune 500 company to have INTEGRITY listed either as a value on its own or to be weaved into that value system across the board. I do find it using that although INTEGRITY seems to be something that most corporations take great pride in, when I asked how do you measure for it during your assessment process they seem to be a bit at a loss.

There may be several definitions or interpretations of what INTEGRITY is, but in regards to assessment for a new hire, I’ll try to use a definition is broad enough so it can be assessed . INTEGRITY involves maintaining and promoting social, ethical, and organizational norms and conducting internal and external business activities. INTEGRITY is something that typically is not as such taught as much as it is reflected and were learned great care to be taken to avoid condoning behavior that indicates “low integrity”. If a manager exhibits the behaviors that are “low integrity”, it is likely that the team that reports about will believe that “low integrity” is approved within the organization.

It has been my experience that integrity is something very personal. As such, you may want to get a better understanding of the hiring manager in their style in general, so that you understand what integrity needs to know.  When considering competencies or experiences to measure in order to assess integrity, you may want to consider certain questioning based on the function specifically. As an example, if you are measuring integrity for sales personnel, you may want to measure how someone up sells the customer with a strong value proposition. If you are measuring someone who is in quality, you may want to better understand how to maintain accuracy consistently.

About Rounded Assessment and its Value to Recruiting

Assessment comes in many forms. Our contention is that competencies need to be identified for each position at an organization, and a level of mastery for some or all of those competencies needs to be identified for each candidate that has applied for the role – whether they are internal or external.

It is the hiring manager’s responsibility to then understand which competencies to leverage, which to develop, and which to avoid in order to have the new employee reach desired productivity in the desired timeline. Competence needs to be assessed, but assessing experience, work habits, cognition, intelligence, and other areas are also critical. We believe that the advocacy of a combined assessment, or “Rounded Assessment” is the job of every recruiter. It is not necessarily their job to assess everything, but rather make sure that the assessment is performed and documented so a hiring manager or business leader can make sound decisions.

This blog post is part of a series of posts that are set to release over a long period of time. In each, Aspen provides insight on the elements and assets within Rounded Assessment.

Focus on Assessment – Energy

Productivity is absolutely critical to forecast the success, as such understanding a candidates ENERGY in its capacity is absolutely critical. There are many positions that involve intense workloads, concentrated work hours over short period of time, or repetitive tasks over a long period time that some would find mundane.  If assessment on energy is not done for positions where productivity is absolutely critical and has to be compliant, is reasonable to assume that a long-term fit or immediate fit for that role will be difficult to obtain.

As such, ENERGY can be defined as consistently maintaining a high activity or productivity level or even be defined as simply as sustaining long work hours. It’s important to realize that the definition of ENERGY may be very specific to your own organization. When your organization defines as intense or long hours may be radically different than another company considers intense for long hours.

When assessing ENERGY, you may want to consider any number of competencies that could include the following–how a person puts in extra hours when needed, how they follow through processes tirelessly, or how they prepare for completion. It’s also important to measure if someone has awareness of their low energy and if they can persevere even though they have low energy.

About Rounded Assessment and its Value to Recruiting

Assessment comes in many forms. Our contention is that competencies need to be identified for each position at an organization, and a level of mastery for some or all of those competencies needs to be identified for each candidate that has applied for the role – whether they are internal or external.

It is the hiring manager’s responsibility to then understand which competencies to leverage, which to develop, and which to avoid in order to have the new employee reach desired productivity in the desired timeline. Competence needs to be assessed, but assessing experience, work habits, cognition, intelligence, and other areas are also critical. We believe that the advocacy of a combined assessment, or “Rounded Assessment” is the job of every recruiter. It is not necessarily their job to assess everything, but rather make sure that the assessment is performed and documented so a hiring manager or business leader can make sound decisions.

This blog post is part of a series of posts that are set to release over a long period of time. In each, Aspen provides insight on the elements and assets within Rounded Assessment.