Last year I was introduced to the Managing Director of a large global Building Product manufacturer. They had been trying to recruit a key director role for their UK business for more than three months ahead of getting in touch with me and were becoming desperate to say the least.

The MD shared the brief and we discussed our approach. In 17 years partnering a broad range of companies in our industry, I highlighted that I’d never seen such a combination of discipline responsibilities before. It was a unique mix of required skills, in a remote location and, as emphasised to her, I felt they were paying at least 20% under market conditions. The client was concerned that the perfect person didn’t exist and we agreed that our data led approach, if we worked closely and collaboratively, would answer that question. We both felt that there would have to be some compromise somewhere but agreed to complete the research and use the market data to inform and guide us.

Three weeks into our research it became evident to me and the internal Recruitment Manager that our initial thoughts were correct. The perfect person didn’t exist. Four weeks in I requested that we hold a meeting with the MD to discuss our data and use it to decide how we compromise and ultimately successfully appoint this critical role. The message back was to keep on going. The MD was simply too busy to meet us.

Eight weeks in and we’d reached a complete stalemate. I’d shared three headhunted candidates who loosely fitted the brief. Wholeheartedly, I did not feel they satisfied it.

Twelve weeks in I gained my first meeting with a rather unimpressed MD. The three CV’s were not what they were looking for and he wasn’t convinced we were up for the task in hand. We agreed to part ways.  This was hugely disappointing for all concerned.  The answers were there and I had been prepared to offer very sound alternatives from four weeks into the process. 

Morale of the story for companies who want to invest in an executive search partner: Expect to contribute something to the process. Read and review intelligence from the headhunt. Be available once or twice throughout the process to ensure you’re not left underwhelmed and emptyhanded. All of this sensibly takes 30 minutes out of your month. Is that not worth ensuring you gain the best solution regarding a new senior level recruit?

Morale of the story for me: When I sense a brief is going to be tough and, some three weeks in it is proving to be, pen down until the stakeholders uphold what was agreed at briefing stage.

Especially true in todays candidate driven market, where certain experiences, skillsets and market exposure are in high demand and short supply, this collaboration is essential.  Occasionally the perfect fit either does not exist or is not willing to move.  Through working with your recruitment partner this should (and will with Collingwood) become apparent.  Agreeing areas of flex within the person specification becomes necessary to ensure your businesses strategy is not damaged.

Footnote: Most of the assignments within Building Materials & Construction that I have worked on throughout my nine years at Collingwood have been straight forward briefs. Collaboration is still key but results are very rarely this sparse.