By Lyssa Barber, Managing Consultant & Head of Private Wealth Management, Allemby Hunt
How do you manage something which is effectively intangible and immeasurable ? From a headhunting perspective, how banks manage those 'silent times' when a response is being awaited or decision being made, can be just as important in the relationship with a candidate as how the remaining - ostensibly ‘meatier’ - parts of the process are managed.
As anyone who has been through it will attest, the recruitment process at a senior level can be lengthy and often unnecessarily drawn out. And from a headhunter’s point of view it is absolutely necessary to keep the candidate aware of what’s happening - even if it is still, regrettably, 'no news I’m afraid'.
Decisions do take time - especially during these summer holiday months - and a quick call to advise that yes, 'the decision has been put back a week, apologies for the delay' is more beneficial than just staying mute until there is something more concrete to impart. Candidates will appreciate it, and it allows good contact to be maintained at a time when they will almost certainly be talking to other firms.
So how do we promote this attitude to clients ? In my experience, it is an extremely rare thing for a hiring manager, or HR professional, to extend to headhunters and candidates the same communication skills that they will routinely use with their own clients - a peculiar attitude since we represent their talent supply lifeline, and need to keep their preferred candidates happy.
Keeping in regular contact is simply good business practice and will reduce the number of bankers who take up offers from other firms. Even if there is little to say, just pick up the phone and make the effort to say something. When dealing with a prospective hire, it is often not what is said, but simply the gesture of calling which counts.
To be successful in hiring a candidate, a bank needs to stay uppermost in their mind during any periods when a decision is being made. Any bank’s relationship with their preferred recruiting firm should include an understanding that regular updates will be made - and this works both ways - to ensure good candidate retention is achieved, and information is passed on in a timely fashion.
This brings me on to my second point - keeping things moving when you are making a hire. Key to the success of the entire process is candidate goodwill. Whilst the opportunity on offer may tie in with their career goals and the meetings may all have gone incredibly well, it is simply not reasonable to expect an experienced financial markets professional to hang on the end of the line for months - without a valid and obvious reason for the delay - whilst internal processes sort themselves out sufficiently for the right people to be able to make the necessary decisions.
Much like yours, their time is valuable and any time allowed to elapse where nothing appears to be happening is only time for the candidate to reflect on any negative impressions - and once their goodwill is lost, it’s a very short step to their quitting the process altogether.
I am often surprised at the lack of cohesion within many major financial institutions when it comes to securing a hire. I have watched banks lose committed, motivated candidates purely through taking too long to get their act together setting meeting dates, giving feedback, issuing contracts, etc. Yes, clearly I recognise that HR and the business line will be very busy, but new hires are the lifeblood of any institution and absolutely key to keeping the bank moving forwards.
If there are gaps in the hiring processes, there is always a danger that good quality candidates will fall down the cracks - and it's about time some of our clients worked more effectively with their preferred recruitment suppliers to ensure that this doesn't happen.