6 Key Strategies for Recruiting a Senior-Level Candidate

February 19, 2015

When sourcing candidates for a senior position, the pool of candidates narrows markedly. Indeed, the recruitment process can become a buyer’s market – with the candidate the as the “buyer” at the helm of the decision-making.

With this in mind, we’ve compiled six strategies to consider when recruiting for key senior positions. To bring these tips to life, we’ve integrated the real-life recruitment experience of an executive-level candidate: Monica Risam, who today holds the position of London-based global counsel for Aviva Group.

1. Never bring less than your A-game – starting with the first meeting.

It’s an old adage, for a good reason: a first impression can truly make or break a relationship. Present yourself [and your client’s or company brand] with the utmost of professionalism, starting with that critical first meeting.

Monica walked away with a strong first impression after her first meeting in London with the principal of the executive recruitment agency retained for the Aviva search.

Her takeaway was clear, and to the point: “We really clicked.” Mission, accomplished.

2. Focus on the candidate’s professional needs – not your own.

Take time to review the candidate’s career path, and predict what will appeal to her as the next great challenge. Most of all: listen.

Monica wasn’t focused on company benefits, perks or culture in her job search. Instead, she expressed that her top priority was finding a challenge she could sink her teeth into.

The recruiter then impressed Monica with his approach of putting her goals first: “He looked at what would make the best ‘next step’ for me and my career, instead of trying to fit me into a role he needed to fill.”

3. If the candidate expresses uncertainty about your opportunity, respect that…

A client at the upper echelons of her profession has earned the right to be choosy about next steps. She may weigh her options carefully, and not rush into any decisions. Don’t put pressure on her; instead, offer patience and understanding.

Following their initial meeting, the Aviva recruiter’s summary evaluation of Monica resulted in her being short-listed for the position. Yet at the same time, she was still harbouring thoughts of returning to private practice. Dual-qualified in both the UK and the US, she received offers on both sides of the pond to work for law firms.

Monica was straightforward with her recruiter about this, thanking him for his time – but in fact withdrawing from the evaluation process for the Aviva position. She was struggling to make up her mind, as she was still keen to make partner at a law firm.

4. …But don’t be afraid to remind her that she’s a top priority for your client.

While Monica was working through her options, her recruiter wasn’t sitting still.

A day after she shared her decision to withdraw from the evaluation process, he rang her again. Aviva wanted her to reconsider, he told her.

He was as candid with Monica as she’d been with him. He reminded her that the opportunity was an amazing one. While the work-life balance opportunities of an in-house role were there, there was an even stronger appeal for a candidate with Monica’s experience: the position offered her an exciting, multifaceted challenge.

In short: if the candidate’s interest is teetering or diminishing, review what you’ve presented thus far and ensure you can say with confidence that you’ve showcased the best of what the role has to offer.

5. Make interview procedures painless for the candidate.

The recruiter’s follow-up – and reinforcement of the client’s level of interest – brought about a change of thinking for Monica, and she decided to continue down the path with Aviva.

Her next meeting with the company took place all in one day. Monica underwent evaluations, background checks, met with the CEO … and received a verbal offer. Shortly thereafter, she accepted the Aviva position.

Key takeaway: her recruiter fully streamlined the interview process, showing sensitivity and respect for his candidate’s time.

6. Even after a successful hire, it’s important to remain accessible and supportive.

The relationship between Monica and the recruiter used by Aviva did not end after her hire.

Today, that recruiter continues to offer support to Monica in multiple ways. He checks in on her to see how she’s getting on in her new role. And he’s earned her business as a client: based on her personal experience, Monica has hired him to find new members for her own Aviva team.

This new chapter in their professional relationship was born out of mutual trust and respect, starting from that very first meeting in London. “A sensitive, thoughtful recruiter can make all the difference,” Monica noted. “My recruiter made that happen.”

“He really wanted to get the right fit for Aviva – and the right fit for me,” she reflected. “And you know what? He was right."

*Image by David Biesack

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