Tips for recruiting sought-after leadership talent, optimizing the recruitment process, and gaining an advantage in a competitive market.

By Ronan Coyle
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In 15 years of delivering executive search and talent advisory services across Europe and the Middle East, I have been fortunate enough to partner with many different types of organisations, from large blue-chip multinationals to SMEs, family-run groups, and government entities. I have experienced diverse sectors and industries, from industrial, real estate, consumer and retail to financial services, technology, NGO and government.

In the process I have built business relationships and friendships with leaders from different cultures, backgrounds and nationalities. I have also seen a range of leadership styles: some conservative, some progressive, and many in between. Some are extroverts, others are introverts. Some lead from the front lines, while others are strategists and visionaries. Some prefer to release their people’s potential through empowerment, and some are inspirational motivators. Many are a combination.

I have learned from all of these experiences and interactions. At this point it’s fair to say I have accumulated some knowledge about attracting, acquiring, developing and retaining leadership talent. In this article I will share some, with a focus on recruitment. My hope is that it will help companies and business leaders attract and acquire talent more effectively, which will in turn help drive business growth.

Below are three best practices you can adopt to gain an advantage in the ever-competitive leadership talent market.

  1. Engage with candidates meaningfully. Leadership recruitment processes can take time. These critical appointments will often determine the fortunes of a company into the future, so time must be invested in assessing candidates properly. Candidates need to understand this as well. It’s best to map out the process for them at the outset. If they are aware of timelines and touchpoints, they are less likely to get discouraged. It also helps to keep them informed. Candidates who are regularly engaged and updated will have a much better impression of your company, regardless of the outcome.
  2. Use interviews to generate enthusiasm. Interviews can serve dual functions. Traditionally they are used to explore a candidate’s suitability for the position. But they also offer a great opportunity to talk about your vision for the company and the roles that the candidate could play in driving the business forward. Getting the candidate’s buy-in and building their interest should always be an objective of the interview process. This will pay dividends when it comes to negotiating an offer.
  3. Be brave and decisive. In a competitive talent market where specific skill-sets and experience are in short supply, this could be the most important point to keep in mind: If you identify a candidate early in the process who has the attributes, skills and experience you need, do not hesitate. If you wait in hopes of finding other candidates to act as comparators, you’re gambling with your time. Instead, be brave and move ahead with the qualified candidate in front of you. This will enhance the candidate’s experience, and increase the likelihood of a positive outcome.

The concept of ‘brave hiring’ was introduced to me by an HR leader many years ago. Done correctly, it can transform a recruitment process, making it much more efficient and outcome oriented. This is more a change in mindset than an operational adjustment, so be open to adaptation and reap the rewards.

These three best practices seem simple – and they are. There is no major investment or radical process change or re-engineering required. The key is a slight shift in thinking. The post-pandemic world demands it: Business landscapes have shifted and ways of working are changing, and business leaders and HR and talent managers must embrace these changes. This is essential to gain or retain a competitive edge in recruiting the best senior talent. Those who are engaging, innovative, and flexible will attract and acquire talent in a much more effective, time- and cost-efficient manner

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