Intuitively, it might seem that when a vacancy arises in a company, and it needs to be filled quickly, the most effective solution is to choose a candidate who is currently looking for a job in a position similar to the one we’re offering.
There are several arguments in favor of this approach. Firstly, such individuals are typically readily available, making it tempting to quickly fill a vacancy. Job seekers are often highly motivated to find new employment, which makes them more cooperative in the recruitment process – scheduling meetings with them is easier, and communication is smoother. Additionally, they tend to be more open to negotiating employment terms because their top priority is often securing a source of income as quickly as possible.
However, it raises the question of whether such a person is the best candidate for the position being filled.
When we look at this issue from this perspective, it turns out that it’s not necessarily the case. In the recruitment process, especially for high-level managerial positions, the key is to identify candidates in the market who are best prepared to succeed in that role. Those who have the right qualifications, experience, personality, and are at a point in their career where our position would be a good next step in their professional development. Particularly, the latter aspect is significant because the greatest likelihood of success in a new position occurs when it offers opportunities for development and the satisfaction that comes with it.
These defined criteria significantly narrow down the group of potential candidates. When we add the additional factor that they happen to be in the process of job hunting at that particular moment, it can further shrink this group, or worse, there might not be anyone available to recruit. Therefore, the question of whether a candidate is currently seeking employment should be considered a secondary priority.
It’s important to separate the consideration of whether a potential candidate is at a stage in their career where our position is an excellent next step in their development from whether they are actively looking for a new job at that moment.
The right time for a change in the candidate's career
Candidates often are not fully aware of where they stand in their careers. While it may seem common for individuals in high managerial positions to plan their careers meticulously and execute them accordingly, this is often not the case. In most instances, professionals either follow the career path set within their current company as their personal development route or accept job offers that seem suitable at the time. An experienced executive search consultant, observing a candidate’s career development from an external perspective, can assess the candidate’s current career stage and identify the best steps for their advancement. It frequently turns out that the options presented by their current employer are not necessarily the most beneficial for their development. Instead, a role in another company might offer a superior package of tasks, responsibilities, and new challenges, resulting in more rapid and substantial career growth. Unfortunately, such candidates are often unaware of these opportunities because they lack insight into other companies. This is primarily due to two reasons. First, they often follow the career path outlined by their current employer and do not invest the effort to explore external opportunities. Second, they are not actively job searching.
A job-seeking candidate
When we look at the circumstances of a job-seeking candidate, it often becomes clear that this moment doesn’t result from their choice but rather from external factors over which they have no control. The market situation has changed, there have been changes within the company, or something has shifted in the candidate’s personal life, forcing them to start looking for a new job. Even if it may not be the ideal point in their career to make a change that will strengthen or accelerate their development, they are still motivated to take on a new challenge. However, there is a significant risk that this candidate may not be the one with the greatest chances of success in the position we are offering.
How to identify the right candidates, reach out to them, and convince them to make a change?
Realizing that in the recruitment process for top positions in a company, we focus on candidates who are not actively seeking jobs fundamentally changes the recruitment process and virtually eliminates all recruitment methods except for working with an external executive search firm (you can read about recruitment methods for top management positions in large Polish companies in a separate article of mine here). This approach primarily requires having up-to-date knowledge about what is happening in the job market, how potential candidates behave, and where to find them. This knowledge is possessed by executive search firms whose primary task is to continually execute recruitment projects and monitor the market. Additionally, it requires a significant amount of work, which must be carried out almost immediately after starting the recruitment process. Here, an executive search firm also provides support, as it maintains a continuous state of readiness with the appropriate resources (executive search consultants, research departments, etc.), which internal HR departments of large Polish companies typically lack. This also demands specific skills and experience in market research, identifying potential candidates, and establishing contact with them. It is necessary to have the right skills and experience to conduct interviews with candidates in such a way that you can understand whether the proposed position is right for them and whether they are a good fit for the challenges of the specific role. Such skills and experience are usually not possessed by HR departments because recruitment for top positions occurs relatively infrequently. Executive search firms carry out such projects every day, and as a result, have typically honed these skills to the highest degree. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, recruiting for top management positions is usually highly confidential, especially in the early stages. When a candidate is contacted by an executive search firm, they are informed about the confidential nature of the project, which a representative from the hiring company cannot do because they must identify themselves with the company they represent.