The Inside-Out Approach
A Step-by-Step Process for Extraordinary Executive Search
The goal in an executive search isn’t to find the best talent currently looking for work, or at least it shouldn’t be. What it should be: finding the best talent, period. And herein lies the recruiting challenge: the best talent isn’t looking for work. They already have jobs – good jobs.
Business leaders know that companies with great executive talent significantly outperform their competitors. So, it should come as no surprise that the competition for talent is fierce. Additionally, globalization, attrition, and changing demographics have led to a scarcity of talent.
All this to say that effective recruiting is now at the core of what builds competitive advantage.
The Perry-Martel Inside-Out Approach helps organizations to successfully address the recruiting challenge. With the Perry-Martel system, an organization will be able to find the very best, engage their interest, hire them, and ensure they stick around. The Perry-Martel Inside-Out Approach is helping organizations turn recruiting into a competitive advantage generator.
The best candidates will come to an organization not to make more money but because of what the organization stands for and what it’s trying to achieve.
It’s personal. To attract the best one must first engage the heart.
Once you’ve spoken to the heart, you need to speak to the head. The best will want to understand the organization’s business goals, its challenges, its assumptions, and its blind spots.
Once the head is engaged, you next have to address the feet. The best will want to understand the organizational culture that drives the way people interact and how things get done.
Succinctly put, to attract the best talent one needs to engage the heart, the head and the feet. To do this, you need to prepare. The best will ask probing questions. You’d better be ready to answer them.
Part 1 - Needs Analysis
To get the information for that level of engagement, Perry-Martel first goes deep inside the hiring organization. Only once we have the narrative for the engagement story do we go out to the marketplace. This is the essence of the Perry-Martel Inside-Out Approach.
STEP 1 – UNDERSTANDING THE PRESENTING NEED
- Needs Analysis: Develop a deep understanding of what needs to be accomplished in the role.
- Job Description: Establish and agree upon, observable and measurable performance requirements (i.e. key performance indicators).
- Skills GAP Analysis: Successful recruiting requires understanding exactly where the company is in its evolution from startup to multinational, how fast it’s changing, and what the current and future skills gaps look like.
STEP 2 – UNDERSTANDING THE ORGANIZATION
- SWOT Analysis: Identify the company’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as the opportunities to be leveraged and any potential threats which may need to be addressed.
- Search Committee: Choose three to five people to help articulate what is needed in a candidate, establish a timeline, ensure due diligence, conduct interviews, and contribute to the hiring decision.
- Search Chair: Determine which search committee member is best suited to lead discussions and has the time to see the project through to conclusion. The search chair understands the needs and culture of the organization and is able to serve as an unbiased liaison to guide discussions between the search committee and hiring manager.
THE OUTPUT – A DEEP & COMMON UNDERSTANDING OF THE NEED
The qualities of the right person for the position are collectively agreed on. The strengths and weaknesses of the executive team, the company’s market position, including its short- and long-term goals are known and understood from the perspective of the role being filled.
Part 2 - Campaign Preparation
It’s not enough to entice candidates with money; the best ones are already well paid. Attracting and landing talent requires more than an open checkbook. It necessitates using a deliberate process to create interest and draw the talent to the opportunity, a process which lets the company subtly connect with prospects on both a logical and emotional level.
STEP 3 – PACKAGING (THE HIRING ORGANIZATION’S) CAUSE
- Position Profile: The Position Profile is a marketing tool. Its mission: to ignite the interest of Tier 1 talent, to make them think about the organization and imagine “what if.” It connects them to their destiny.
- Confidential Candidate Brief: A Confidential Candidate Brief is used instead of a resume to quickly and easily build a profile of the prospective candidate. The Brief removes the time-consuming hurdle of resume preparation and surfaces the experience most relevant to the role. Enabling prospects to see themselves in the role reverses the traditional seller/buyer personas in the employer’s favor.
STEP 4 – GUIDE DEVELOPMENT
- Interview Guide: This Guide leads the recruiting team through the interview process, ensuring they effectively address the baseline questions needed to accurately assess the candidate’s skills, experience, fit, and commitment to the role.
- Reference Check Guide: Assessing a candidate’s value system, prior achievements, leadership qualities, and fit in relation to the role being offered is part art and part science. It requires the development of thoughtful questions for vetting the candidate – the questions in the Reference Check Guide are the result.
THE OUTPUT – THE HIRING BLUEPRINT
The Hiring Blueprint makes clear everyone’s role in converting tier 1 prospects to tier 1 candidates. It articulates the strategy and process that will be used to attract, evaluate, and land tier 1 talent.
Part 3 - Talent Attraction
How you find someone who isn’t actively looking for work and get them to raise a hand and say, “Here I am!”, while simultaneously assessing their fit, is the new recruitment paradigm. It’s not an easy feat. One needs a clear understanding of every prospect before first contact is initiated. Attracting the best requires a recruiting campaign custom tailored to each prospect.
STEP 5 – TALENT SEARCH – LOCATING TIER 1 TALENT
- Original Research: Research is the cornerstone of every recruiting project. Research must underpin every action. To be successful the recruiting campaign must work to understand what drives a prospect before the initial approach. While often laborious, this tenacious upfront spade work will have a ten-fold impact on prospect engagement. The list of targeted prospects is often composed largely of individuals who not only haven’t “applied” for the role, but may not even know the organization exists. This is why each prospective candidate must be contacted personally, one at a time, to introduce the role and assess their fit.
STEP 6 – TALENT EXCITEMENT
- Making Initial Contact: Initial contact is made by phone. The research done in Step 5 makes it possible to tightly target prospects, hone the message, and deliver it to the prospect in a way that creates interest. The Position Profile created is Step 3 is now introduced in a low-key, matter-of-fact manner.
- Following Up: A subsequent contact is made to gauge the
prospects reaction to the Position Profile and to introduce the Confidential Candidate Brief. Because we are able to speak from a reference point of knowledge about the prospect, their current company, their industry, and its challenges, they welcome the offer to complete the Confidential Candidate Brief.
- Qualifying the Prospect: Having reviewed the Confidential Candidate Brief and obtained an appreciation of the prospect’s take on their fit to the role, this third phone call is designed to answer their questions and qualify them. Using the Confidential Candidate Brief we probe their career history to obtain a deep understanding of the fit and to assess what motivates and drives them. At the same time, we qualify each prospect’s commitment to putting in the time and energy required to meaningfully audition for the role.
THE OUTPUT – LIST OF TIER 1 TALENT WHO WANT THE JOB
From the very first contact the recruiting process strikes the right note with prospects. The process successfully addresses the new recruitment paradigm, resulting in a short list of tier 1 talent who are not only qualified but now want the role. The “hunted” have become the “hunters.”
Part 4 - Talent Assessment
Executive interviews are different from other interviews – they need to be, there’s more at stake. As key as the candidate’s knowledge, skills, experience, and track record are, it is vital that the interview process also evaluates the candidate’s personal qualities (e.g., values, work ethic, leadership style, and passion) to ensure the right cultural fit. It is this fit that leads to a productive resonance between the candidate and the rest of the executive team. The interview process for key executive positions takes longer than for subordinate positions. Really getting to know a candidate takes time. But it’s time well spent.
STEP 7 – PROCESS ASSESSMENT
The Process Assessment is a test run that validates the parameters of the Position Profile in advance of taking the search project to the marketplace. This test run helps to significantly shorten the overall duration of the search by enabling the search team to fine tune both the recruiting process and candidate qualifications. The Process Assessment:
- Selects a benchmark candidate to test and refine the Hiring Blueprint.
- Conducts a trial interview to ensure an accurate understanding of the ideal candidate.
- Advise the search chair on possible blind spots by providing feedback on the benchmark interview, highlighting any perceived bias which may color the candidate assessment.
STEP 8 – CLIENT PREPARATION
At each step in the interview process, the search chair, hiring manager, and search committee are coached on how to best articulate the organization’s needs and its success stories to capture the interest and attention of the candidate. As well, all those involved are coached on how to emotionally ‘connect’ with each candidate.
STEP 9 – STRUCTURED GATED ASSESSMENT
The key is to make it easy for candidates to find out about the opportunity, but make it challenging for them to win the position. Our assessment interviews are highly structured, planned in advance, and rigorously executed. It has been our experience that a demanding interview process garners the respect of tier 1 talent. The five-stage interview sequence is as follows:
- Face-to-Face Recruiter Interview: The candidate meets face-to-face with two Perry-Martel recruiters.
- Search Chair Interview: The candidate interviews with the lead recruiter and the search chair.
- Hiring Manager Interview: The candidate interviews with the lead recruiter, the search chair, and the hiring manager.
- Search Committee Interview: The candidate then meets with the lead recruiter, the search chair, and the search committee but not the hiring manager.
- Candidate Presentation Interview: Finally, the candidate makes a formal presentation to the full search committee, outlining their understanding of the position and their plan for their first 100 days in the role.
STEP 10 – VERIFICATION
All reference checks are designed to address the specifics of the position being recruited for. In addition, the Reference Check Guide addresses the ten need-to-know areas of the final candidate’s background, including leadership attributes, attitude, and systems and critical thinking skills, as well as work history and accomplishments. The lead recruiter conducts all reference checks through direct phone calls with supervisors, peers, and subordinates.
THE OUTPUT – THE CHOSEN CANDIDATE
At the end of the talent assessment process there is a successful candidate who shares the organization’s vision and sensibility. It is as if the chosen candidate was destined to sit around that boardroom table and help the organization achieve its desired future.
Part 5 - Deal Making
The deal-making process starts with the first interview. By subtly approaching the offer early in the recruiting process, stumbling blocks and even deal-damaging issues are identified and dealt with well before a formal offer is made. Shaping an acceptable offer requires floating trial balloons throughout the Assessment Stage. The key learning here is that a slow reveal is the most effective approach when it comes to making a deal.
STEP 11 – OFFER DEVELOPMENT
Before an offer is made, a list of the candidate’s needs and expectations is prepared. This list goes well beyond salary requirements. When it comes to tier 1 talent the golden rule is that gold by itself is insufficient. The successful offer will address the candidate’s intrinsic motivations. It is important to be transparent about the position and compensation throughout the interview process. The operative phrase here is “no surprises, no misunderstandings.”
It is during this step that everything gets committed to paper. The compensation package is structured to reinforce the organization’s KPIs, as defined in the job description and highlighted in the Position Profile.
STEP 12 – OFFER PRESENTATION
Whenever possible the offer is made in person. Apart from enabling an immediate signature, this approach allows the candidate, and possibly their significant other, to be walked through the entire package, with questions being addressed as they arise. These types of negotiations are relationship driven. Throughout the entire recruitment process, significant energy and effort have gone into building a trusting relationship between the candidate and the organization which facilitates successful negotiations and ultimately a successful outcome.
THE OUTPUT – AN EXCITED NEW TEAM MEMBER
The recruitment process outlined here delivers the whole person: the heart, the head, and the feet. It delivers an executive who feels a personal connection to both the organization’s desired future and the executive team she or he will be part of. The recruitment process delivers more than tier 1 talent. It delivers killer competitive advantage.
Successful organizations devote much more time to creating a clear picture of the role to be filled, than on executing the search. Focusing that lens entails deliberately thinking through all the requirements embodied in the role, in order to make clear the need.
Part 6 - On-Boarding
Retaining top talent is no small feat. Competition for the best and brightest is fierce. After all the effort and expense of acquiring a top performer, the last thing the hiring organization wants is for the new hire to abandon them for another suitor! When it comes down to it, the most important thing the organization can do to keep suitors at bay is to honor all the promises made to the new hire while courting them — even the ones that weren’t documented.
STEP 13 – ESTABLISHING METRICS & FEEDBACK PROCESS
- Metrics: Formal 1, 15, 30, 90, 180, 270 and 365 day plans with supporting success measures, agreed to by both the new hire and the search chair, are put in place.
- Feedback Process: To ensure a solid start, regular follow-ups are scheduled with the new hire and the search chair to make sure objectives have been met and commitments have been kept. The prime focus of this feedback process is to ensure that any issues that could negatively affect job satisfaction and/ or performance are dealt with early.
STEP 14 – PROCESS REVIEW
Finally, the entire recruiting project is reviewed with the client’s hiring team. Using the learnings from this review, the recruiting methodology is fine tuned. A methodology package, tailored to the client’s environment, is presented to the client’s recruiting team to assist with future hires.
THE OUTPUT – A STAGE SET FOR SUCCESS
The organization has a new team member who is in step with the organization’s goals and objectives. The new hire has a plan that enables him or her to start contributing almost immediately, forgoing much of the time that would normally be used to ramp up. As well, the new hire has a set of metrics that will keep them focused and running hard.
The organization has a one-year plan for regular interventions with the new executive to ensure she or he is, on day 365 in the job, just as energized by the organization’s vision and goals as they were on their first day.
And finally, the organization has a recruiting team whose members have grown their skills and understanding of what it takes to attract and retain tier 1 talent.