Maintaining Momentum With Star Candidates

by Charlie Hunt - PER 18. February 2014 08:30

Charlie HuntIs the key to recruiting the best candidates a question of keeping up momentum and managing expectations? We’re often asked for advice on the best ways to run the recruitment process as many of our clients don’t recruit that often.  We’ll take most of the strain on their behalf so all that many of our clients have to worry about is turning up at the right time for the interview, and remembering to take the candidate’s cv along with them.

However, once a star candidate has been identified, the recruiter needs to understand that they are not the only one doing the ‘buying’ and they will need to ‘sell’ the fund. There’s no doubt that there’s a huge amount of talent looking for work now and it’s a great time to be hiring. The difficulty funds are still finding is that the strongest candidates are often the people that everyone wants to employ. It’s not uncommon that the person a fund wants to make an offer to will be lining up two or three other offers at the same time. Arguably, the best way of maximising the chances of landing the strongest candidate is to keep up the momentum during the interview process and to manage expectations along the way. Whilst it sounds obvious, it’s surprising how many funds let time drift for weeks at a time without arranging further interviews or making an offer.

Recruitment is understandably often pushed down the fund’s list of priorities. However, by setting a timeline for the recruitment process and making sure that the candidate is clear about the process along the way, then the candidate will remain enthused about the opportunity and start to feel like part of the team. The strongest candidates will take into account how clear the messages coming out of the fund are, and how the fund organises itself in respect of the interviews. Interviews that are continually cancelled, rushed, or lack focus rarely create a good impression. First mover advantage is also important when making an offer as candidates will start to imagine themselves in the role and have a warm disposition to who gets there first. If a fund makes an offer first then it can also keep in contact with the candidate whilst they consider their options and make them feel wanted.

Expectation management is also important because it means a fund avoids spending time interviewing people who are unlikely to accept a position. This will mean making the role and responsibility of the position clear, and being upfront about the likely package. There’s nothing quite like dampening the enthusiasm of a preferred candidate by offering 10% less than they were expecting. Managing the candidate’s expectations will ensure that the chances of securing their services is maximised. Candidates also bear responsibility here. They too must be open with you and advise you of where they are with others. It never ceases to amaze me when they announce at the 11th hour that they have another offer on the table. It’s a bad strategy by the candidate because it puts the fund on the back foot and doesn’t give the fund the opportunity to be creative about the role or package. We therefore encourage our clients to question the candidate about where they are with other interviews, and we too do our best to ensure both parties are kept up to date. 

It’s all part of your employer brand. Letting the process drift and offering below expectations is not a successful recruitment strategy. Maintaining momentum and managing expectations along the way will considerably enhance your chances of landing a star.

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Gail McManus, PER Blog

The PER Blog contains my observations on the world of private equity and its people.  Every day I meet and speak with people from across private equity giving me a broad view of the challenges and issues that they face in managing their businesses and their careers.  And it allows me to understand and help resolve some of the human issues that affect the sector.  

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