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Going Solo - Behind the Back Games...

September 28, 2009
by Tim Tolan
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As I have said (many times) before, there are multiple steps in the search process before any verbal or written offers are made – and that involves all parties at the search table. The client and the candidate are introduced by the search consultant after some initial vetting and screening has taken place. This “official” hand-off helps foster the courtship during the search process which hopefully leads to an offer.
All good - right?

Maybe not. What I struggle with is having a client that insists on taking over and going behind the consultant’s back once the candidate is presented. They want to fly solo on every aspect of the search as if the search consultant does not exist. It’s insane! From scheduling interviews, face-to-face meetings, background and reference checks all the way to making the offer. Oh – forgot about booking travel! All flying solo! I don’t get it. And…having to call the candidate just to get an update what’s happening in the search is NEVER where you want to be! It’s like being on the outside and looking (staring) through a foggy window hoping you can see what is going on inside.

It’s not a good view and it’s a terrible way to do business.

Candidate’s and client’s alike have the benefit of working with and leveraging a search professional on multiple fronts. They serve an invaluable role in helping find talent to fill critical position openings. A search professional should be a trusted advisor, a confidant, a consultant, a sounding board, a negotiator – as they play a critical role in completing a search assignment - from start to finish. If all of that makes sense – why cut them out and fly solo. It’s a recipe for a disaster every single time. Nobody knows what’s going on or who’s on first? Controlling the entire process is THE critical success factor in search execution.

Going behind the consultant’s back is, well another story. It’s just not worth it. Being on the outside looking in is a very bad model and I want no part of it. OK – I’ve beaten this one to the ground and I think the horse is dead.

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Comments

Joe: It does beg the question. Why use a search consultant if you plan to do the search on your own? It's not effective. Nope. Not at all.

Anthony: We explain the process and roles and responsibilities up front. Unfortunately some people don't get it. On your question it is the client leading our candidate thru this chaotic maze and nobody knows what is going on. Sooner or later we part ways as it become unmanageable and they send us a message about our value without saying a single word.

Tim,

Do you counsel the searching company to redirect candidates back to you if they initiate independent interaction with the searching company? Is it often the searching company that frustrates you as much as the candidate by embracing this back-channel approach?

Wounded, but not dead. Your horse that is.

Sounds to me like there are really unclear expectations on the part of one of your clients. I'm hoping that it's a very junior member of your client's team.

To paraphrase from some Jack Nicholson line from some distant past movie, "there are reasons that we do things the way we do."

In this case, hiring a retained search executive to act as an intermediary has multiple, chosen and necessary effects. These include establishing intimacy, driving toward a good decision through a trustable process, and reliable one-stop shopping for both the client (hiring organization) and the candidates. I learned 15 years ago what happens when a company tries to conduct a search on their own. It's not effective.

Tim Tolan

Senior Partner, Sanford Rose Associates Healthcare IT Practice

@@TimTolan

http://sanfordrose.net/thetolangroup/

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