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Three Factors Can Kill a Company's Talent Search; Here's How to Turn Them Positive

Assembling a company leadership team is a lot like filling a roster in the National Football League:  Whom you draft will have a profound impact on the team's success.

In the case of the business world, a company’s talent-acquisition effort can be successful, or hampered, by three factors: position descriptions, interview debriefings and reference-checking.

The Executive Search Group has developed a new guide to help companies deal with these and other related recruiting factors.

“In the course of helping companies build their leadership teams, I’ve developed some strong views on what makes or breaks a company’s talent acquisition effort,” says the group's chief executive, Tim McIntyre.  He's the author of a free tip sheet that outlines some unconventional executive search techniques his firm - formerly known as Infonet Resources - has employed.

In the new Talent Acquisition Strategy Tip Sheet, McIntyre says that CEOs and HR directors may need to avoid existing position descriptions if they want the best hires.

“There are bad ways and good ways to develop a position description,” he writes. “One bad way is to cut and paste from an old description. Another is to ask the human-resources department to draft something. The results might look good, but they most likely will be superficial and miss the mark.”

McIntyre suggests an in-depth conversation with all parties who will be involved in the interview process. Once everyone understands what has to be accomplished, it will be easier to describe the qualifications the new executive needs to demonstrate.

In the Tip Sheet, McIntyre says companies should make postinterview debriefings as or more important than candidate interviews. Why? Because that gives everyone involved a reality check, he says. Right after a good interview, the hiring supervisor may be feeling optimistic and begin prematurely mapping out how to get that person hired, without properly going through all the steps of the hiring process.

The same is true for the candidate.

“Whether they are talkers, doers or both, top-level candidates are no fools,” explains McIntyre. “They know when they have nailed an interview. They may be planning already to build on that momentum and push for compensation and benefits beyond what you had in mind.”

Another tip that can help companies find and hire the ideal candidate is to be skeptical of what McIntyre calls the “middle management mafia” and LinkedIn recommendations.

“Comments about the candidate that specify ‘why’ and ‘how’ are the valuable ones; those that consist of declarations and nonspecific praise – as is so common on LinkedIn – are relatively worthless,” McIntyre says.

“Hidden references are the most useful. A hidden reference is one the HR professional or executive search team takes the initiative to contact, though they are not listed by the candidate as a reference.”

While remaining polite and professional, McIntyre says, the hiring executive should probe the reference for more information about the candidate. Open-ended questions, fill-in-the-blank questions and observing the reference’s body language are all ways that companies can solicit frank and unvarnished input.

“It can save a company from wasting weeks and potentially tens of thousands of dollars as a result of making executive search mistakes,” he says.
For more Tip Sheet information, visit the company’s Web site at



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