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The Most Important Candidate Screening Criteria to Executive Recruiters and Hiring Managers

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There was a poll taken during the recent Proformative webinar "Insight and Strategies for Seasoned Executives in Transition". The poll results were as follows:

I think the “most important” (or “first”) thing that recruiters and hiring managers look for in seasoned executives in FAT is:

    · Your fit against the job descriptions   80%
    · Experience in the pertinent industry   17%
   
· References   1%
    · 
Quality of companies   1%
   
· Years of experience   1%

I would like to ask one of our webinar speakers Cindy Kraft, the CFO Coach, to comment and start the discussion of these results.

 

Answers

Topic Expert
John Kogan
Title: CEO/CFO
Company: Proformative, Inc.
(CEO/CFO, Proformative, Inc.) |

"fit against the job description" would seem like a logical thing, but I have seen a few things that would make me think twice about that conclusion.

#1, many job descriptions are woefully inaccurate or incomplete. In fact, even at the executive level and even from executive recruiters, I have seen lazily and poorly constructed job descriptions. That's not to knock the industry or hiring managers, rather it is to say that sometimes what is being hired is largely left off of the job spec. That is why I always counsel interviewees to ask a lot of questions early in their interviews at every stage. You should engage the person your speaking with, whether the recruiter, the hiring manager, the CEO or the Board, about what they think the job is about. Not only does this tell you much more than a one page job spec, it allows you to tailor your responses throughout the interview.

#2, personal fit. Of course this was not an option in the survey, but in general, if you "hit it off" with the hiring manager and the rest of the interview team, you may get a position even if your background is not necessarily the best match for the job spec. "Hitting it off" typically requires that you shine in other ways. It may be personality, something in your personal or professional history, or some skills you possess which were not mentioned in the job description.

I bring these up as a reminder that even if you don't fit a job description perfectly, that in no way means that you should not apply for a position or consider that your application will fall flat. Job descriptions are incomplete. They must be. Other than for the most rote positions, a job description can never capture all there is in a job.

Topic Expert
Cindy Kraft
Title: CFO Coach
Company: Executive Essentials
(CFO Coach, Executive Essentials) |

Thanks Ernie. The results of the poll do not surprise me and I also agree with John's comments about inaccurate / incomplete job descriptions. So much so that as a huge House fan, I authored an article entitled "Everybody Lies" (House's favorite expression) speaking about the train wreck called job search and the inefficiencies of communication between all the parties.

These results point to a couple of areas I believe are important for job seekers to remember. First, as Cliff mentioned, he is on the phone regularly conversing with his client (the company). Because of that close and open relationship, he probably has a much better sense of what is needed than perhaps some recruiters. This could also be a pretty big distinction between contingency and retained recruiters. One more breakdown in the communication of what is actually needed could occur because the recruiter is speaking to HR, not to the hiring manager. With all due respect to HR, I don't believe they should be involved in the hiring process.

Which brings me to my second point ... if you are at the senior level, don't deal with HR. Engage directly with the decision-maker whenever possible. If you get re-routed to HR, so be it. Just don't let HR be the first stop.

And if you don't already have a solid relationship with a couple of top recruiters, that should be a networking goal. Like a strong digital footprint, a long-term recruiter relationship is like solid gold.

If you would like a copy of my article, email me at CindyatCFO-Coach [dot] com with "Everybody Lies" in the subject line. Or, Ernie or John, let me know how I can upload the file and I'd be happy to do so.

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