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Why hiring a detective could be the solution to your next critical hire

Recruiting a new member of staff is always a significant decision, but finding the right individual for a crucial role can be like solving a puzzle. It demands an understanding of your company culture, a discerning eye for detail, and an instinct for talent. That’s why more businesses are turning to executive search firms for help. These professional “detectives” possess the skills and expertise to uncover the best candidates for your company, and their methods are more efficient than a traditional job search.

One of the key advantages of using an executive search firm is their utilisation of assessments to guarantee the candidate’s suitability not just on paper, but also in practice. They employ a blend of behavioural assessments, critical thinking tests, and emotional intelligence evaluations to gain a comprehensive view of each candidate’s strengths, weaknesses, and potential for success in the role. This allows them to present you with candidates who not only have the skills and experience you require, but also the personality and emotional intelligence to flourish in your company’s culture.

Another advantage of working with an executive search firm is its extensive network of contacts in the industry. They have cultivated relationships with key players in your field and know where to find the best talent. They also have access to databases of candidates who are not actively seeking a new role but would be receptive to a change if the right opportunity arose. In other words, they have the inside track on the top candidates, giving you a competitive edge in the recruitment process.

Furthermore, executive search firms have a tried-and-tested method for identifying and screening candidates. They carry out comprehensive background checks and reference checks to ensure the person you are considering is the ideal fit for your company. They also take the time to comprehend your company culture and the specific demands of the role, so they can provide you with a carefully selected list of the best candidates.

But why settle for merely the best when you can have the cream of the crop? Executive search firms also can attract top talent from their current positions with appealing packages and opportunities. They know how to promote your company to potential recruits and convince them that your organisation is the place they want to be.

Finally, hiring a detective can also save you time and reduce the stress often associated with a critical recruitment decision. You don’t have to spend hours trawling through CVs and conducting interviews; the executive search firm will take care of all of that for you. They will provide you with a shortlist of the best candidates, saving you time and hassle.

In conclusion, if you’re facing a critical recruitment decision, don’t rely solely on your own detective skills. Turn to the professionals and let an executive search firm help you solve the puzzle of finding the ideal candidate. With their expertise, assessments, and experience, they will assist you in making the right choice and unlocking the key to your company’s success.


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Does Culture Matter?

 

 

“How management chooses to treat its people impacts everything – for better or for worse.” – Simon Sinek

Having conducted a recent survey on why people leave, I found it interesting that culture was identified as the number one reason that people left their last role. With over 43% of respondents giving this as their rational for leaving, it is clear that company culture cannot be ignored.

The results of the survey pose a few interesting questions as a talent professional – What exactly is culture? How much does culture really matter and why? Is hiring a cultural fit the way forward? And if so, how can you measure and assess this?

So, what is culture and why does it matter?  

Firstly, culture is a loose term with hundreds of definitions – some see it as something vague which cannot be controlled, others see as something simple that can be managed. For me, it sits somewhere between the two.

In my opinion, McKinsey & Company sum this up well, defining culture as:

“As the common set of behaviours and underlying mindsets and beliefs that shape how people work and interact day to day”

Because culture is created by a “common set of behaviours and underlying mindsets and beliefs”, the people who lead your business, and those who sit under them, have a huge impact on the culture throughout the organisation. Essentially, if those running your team have some bad behaviours or beliefs, this will trickle down and have a knock-on effect across the board. A good and bad culture alike can have various effects on your business, some of these are:

  • Correlation with high / low performance
  • Impacts employee engagement
  • Culture impacts agility
  • Research shows impact on long-term financial performance
  • Culture differentiates you from the competition
  • Culture is difficult to replicate
  • Strong Cultures attract the right people  

Finding a Cultural Fit

From a recruitment perspective cultural fit is often talked about – this is how someone fits into an organisations culture. Get it right and you can achieve remarkable things, get it wrong and the culture or subcultures can become toxic.

An article in the Harvard Journal describes Culture fit as the glue that holds an organization together”. That is why it is a key trait to consider when recruiting. The result of poor culture fit due to turnover can cost an organization between 50-60% of the person’s annual salary, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Cultural fit is important in any recruitment process and is even more critical when making senior hires. Over the years, it is something I have heard clients ask for repeatedly when discussing assignments. When we ask clients how they assess cultural fit the answer is often “it’s down to gut feeling” or “we get the applicant to complete a psychometric test”. I would argue this is too simple a view, and to truly assess cultural fit it must be a two-sided process. The required behaviours needed for a role, and by the company, should be assessed by both the client and the candidate.  

So, how do we assess cultural fit?

At Corvus, our Executive Search methodology, Corvus Assured, makes this a little more scientific and is based on leading research into behavioural assessments. We use several behavioural tools that use AI to check for alignment between the clients needed and expected behaviours and that of the applicants. The process considers both sides – firstly the desired behaviours for a role, and then the actual behaviours of the person applying.

The starting point for this is to look at client expectations of the role, by having the key people involved in the recruitment process undertake an assessment that shows the key behaviours they want in a role. This is also an opportunity to check that they are aligned internally on what their expectations of the person are. Sometimes this gives interesting results, where clients expectations differ between people internally, and ultimately are misaligned. Clients often welcome this feedback, and it gives them a clearer picture of different perceptions and allows them to consider these in their decision making. Making sure the key stakeholders are aligned before starting the process is key to its success, after all, how can you find a fit if you all are looking for different things.

Some questions to help assess cultural fit

  • What type of culture do they thrive in
  • What type of values are important to them and why
  • What do they know about our company culture
  • What type of working environment do they enjoy

There is no simple, unified, way to assess cultural fit but there are tools to make the process more scientific and robust. 

So, in terms of the question, ‘does culture matter?’ I would say very much so – the Simon Senik quote at the start of this sums this up very eloquently.

If you would like to talk to us about a different approach to recruitment or some fresh thinking for your next hire. Please feel free to reach out. Corvus is a team of highly experienced and passionate consultants who deliver recruitment and HR related solutions to companies in NI, RoI, GB and internationally.


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It’s a match! Using the rules of dating to ace your next hire

 

 

It seemed odd when a few of my clients started to refer to me as the Cilla Black of recruitment. Recruitment and dating appear worlds apart, but the comparison got me thinking. I decided to pop up a poll on LinkedIn to see if others felt the same, and interestingly enough, 80% of respondents agreed that there were similarities. Like dating, recruitment happens in different stages – some of these are time-intensive and don’t always go our way. Could applying the rules of dating to your recruitment process help you find your perfect match?

Our Executive Search methodology, Corvus Assured, breaks down the stages in a similar way. So, in true Cilla style, I wanted to share our inside secrets on how we help businesses find their ideal candidate.

Stage 1: Figure out what you want 

Much like dating, it’s good to go into the process with a clear idea of what you are looking for, however, this can be more challenging when there are different viewpoints to consider. Imagine asking your mum, dad, brother, and best friend all to agree on your next love interest – I am sure we all cringe at the thought. 

It goes without saying how messy it would get, and this is why aligning your stakeholders before you begin the process is key to success. According to Forte One, companies that lead with culture and alignment tend to drive strong business results over time. That is because alignment within the Senior Management Team (SMT) leads to a clear and focused strategic plan, which trickles down to the rest of the organisation. 

So how do we ensure that our client’s Management/Leadership teams are aligned and agree on the ideal candidate? 

Along with taking the time to fully understand the business, we ask stakeholders to individually complete a short online behavioural assessment. This allows us to get a clear picture of the ideal candidate from each perspective and establish if the Management/Leadership team are on the same page.  Often this is not the case and provides an excellent opportunity to discuss individual perspectives and gain consensus on what a ‘fit’ looks like. 

This stage goes deeper than skills and qualifications and looks at the behavioural requirements to ensure a fit with the business culture. A colleague recently completed a poll on LinkedIn, asking participants why they left past roles. Coming in as the top reason was Company Culture at 43%, so getting the fit right is crucial to creating a successful placement. Like the client survey, we also ask candidates to fill out an in-depth behavioural assessment. Matching these to the desired profile makes for a strong cultural fit and leads to higher retention rates.

With critical hires, some of our clients have been on the search for quite some time. Often enough, the reason they haven’t secured their perfect fit is that, without even knowing it, the SMT don’t agree on who they are looking for. 

Stage 2: Find your Soul Mate 

According to Tribepad, eHarmony claims to be the dating site most likely to deliver happy long-term relationships because they prioritise compatibility. Similarly, once your SMT is aligned, it’s time to start the search for compatible candidates. 

As part of our Corvus Assured offering, key stakeholders get access to our portal, which is not that dissimilar to an online dating page. Here, you can access behavioural profiles, key competency questions/answers, CVs, and video covers (essentially the video alternative to a cover letter). We all know romantic relationships won’t last long if someone feels the other person isn’t being true to themselves, so this gives a holistic view of the candidate and makes it easy for the team to weigh up their options. 

Keeping in touch and ensuring clients and candidates are in the loop helps avoid the dreaded “ghosting”! We all know how it feels – you’ve been on a great date, all appears to have gone well, you have been messaging and then bam, you don’t hear from them again. It can certainly pinch! Just like traditional recruitment, we have all fallen for the “perfect” candidate, just for them to drop off the face of the earth without warning. Along with access to the portal, our candidates are prepped on our process and proposed timescales. This provides clarity and ensures their commitment to the role in advance of any interviews. 

Stage 3: The Dating Scene 

So, you have worked out what you want and created a list of a few who caught your eye. Now it’s time to start the dates interviews!

Before any candidates meet with our clients, we do preliminary interviews to ensure the fit is right – a bit like meeting through a mutual friend. We know you both, and we know that it could work. We do the groundwork in informing the candidate about your business and its culture, helping give them a better picture of what it would be like to work there. 

While the pressure is normally on the candidate, the interviews are an opportunity for you to sell your business further and give real-life examples of how they will fit into your team. According to Glassdoor for Employers, 94% of UK job seekers want to know about all aspects of a company before accepting an offer, so the more authentic the experience the better.

To get the most out of the “date”, asking the right questions is vital. Tailoring the interview questions to the desired behavioural profile will make sure you are delving into the detail and helps to remove any blind spots once the start date comes around. We work with our clients to create bespoke questioning, making sure you are in the know about your potential new hire.

Stage 4: It’s official 

After we have poured our hearts and souls into finding your perfect match, and you have gone through the numerous interviews to make sure it feels right, it’s time for the final stage – making an offer.

Offering your candidate the role can be a make-or-break situation. You need to get it right and make sure they feel valued from the start. Low-balling with pay, or taking overly long to decide, can leave the candidate feeling underappreciated, which isn’t a great start in any budding relationship. 

We work with our clients and candidates from the beginning of the process to ensure expectations are clear from all sides. It gives peace of mind that everyone “wants the same things”. 

Oh, and let us not forget the dreaded ex. Approaching with a counteroffer – please stay, we swear we will change. It’s an unlikely story, and unless the only reason to leave is salary, it’s seldom a good idea to take a counteroffer. We understand our candidates’ motivations before shortlisting them, helping to ensure anyone at the offer stage is serious and ready to move. 

If you feel your business needs a Cilla, one of our team would be happy to have a discovery chat with you. We’ve completed over 70 assignments using our Corvus Assured method, so you know you’ll be in safe hands.


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Role Plays – cringeworthy and unrealistic or a valuable learning tool?

 

 

Over the last two weeks, the team and I have been putting some focus on our Corvus Assured Executive Search methodology. We are all genuinely bought into the value of this service, but after some great chats, we identified an opportunity to develop our communication of this to clients.

The team volunteered, or rather voluntold, me to take the lead on the role plays, and after ten sessions (one person as the client and the other as a silent observer), we finished this round of the exercise.

This is the first time we have used role plays as a training technique. Initially, I was sceptical about the benefits.  I don’t have fond memories of my only other experience.  Many years ago, in a previous career, I had to make a pitch in front of 10 people who sat with their arms folded throughout. If this wasn’t bad enough, the whole thing was recorded. We watched the video back and the assembled group pointed out the positives and negatives. I still have flashbacks. 

Thankfully, this experience has been an infinitely more positive than the last. Not only did everyone stick brilliantly to their characters, but the learnings and takeaways from the experience have also been fantastic.  We have developed our listening skills, built confidence, and learnt about our communication styles. 

The sessions were enlightening and involving from both an emotional and a cognitive perspective, and the debriefings at the end always brought new insights and perspectives along with collaborative problem-solving. 

The reason I called it an exercise is due to the similarities between training and physical fitness. We do not stay fit automatically, we need to work at it.  The same goes for continually honing our communication and commercial skills. 

We are building role plays into our ongoing training and plan to bring external actors/friends of the business to give them an even greater ‘real life’ feeling.  

Learnings

Interested in including role plays in your learning and development strategy? Below are my top 5 tips to help you implement successful role plays with your team.

  1. Frame it correctly. People need to have a genuine appetite to participate and understand the value of it for them. 
  2. All participants should prepare beforehand and behave in the role play as if it was a real-life situation.
  3. Be prepared to be uncomfortable.  We genuinely have a great bond in the team, but to get the most from it you must be prepared to commit to the exercise and expect the unexpected.
  4. Make it a safe space for honest feedback and set out the rules for engagement before you begin. It should not be an opportunity for someone to settle a score or show off how smart they may think they are.  Thankfully we did not need a ‘safe word’! 
  5. Having an observer makes the sessions much more valuable – they are not under pressure to be thinking about their next question or answer and can pick up on subtle nuances including tone of voice and body language.

When it comes to role plays, what you put in is what you will get out. Committing to the process will make the experience the most valuable for your business – and who knows, you might even enjoy it!


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Agency v Executive search – why you don’t have to choose

I get asked about this a lot. Agency recruitment works – it is the recruitment model that many companies use, and successfully so. You have a Preferred Supplier Agreement (PSL) where you release roles to agencies, get CVs back, interview and hire.

It works, so why fix what isn’t broken?

Around 90% of your recruitment is filled using either Agency, internal referrals, or direct applicants. For the remaining 10%? They are a headache.

It could be because it requires a niche skillset, or it is a strategic hire for your business. In these cases, suitable candidates generally aren’t searching for new positions, making it difficult to reach them.

You have likely tried your PSL and direct advertising, and it just hasn’t worked. At this stage, a different approach should be adopted for a successful outcome.

When and why to use Executive Search?

When you have tried other avenues, and this has been unsuccessful. Or if the role is critical to the business, niche, or difficult – then you need someone who works with you to solve your specific problem.

What makes an Executive Search different from Agency recruitment? When chatting with clients who have gone through our Executive Search process (Corvus Assured), the same three areas keep coming up.

The first area is Alignment. Picture this – you have gone through the recruitment process – you’ve reviewed some CVs, interviewed a few people, and finally found someone you think is perfect for the role. You and your fellow stakeholders engage in a final interview, but at the end you find yourself confronted with opposing opinions from the group. It’s a nightmare.

Some companies go to market repeatedly, never hiring the right candidate – stuck in a cycle where they can’t please everyone. But how can you find the right candidate when there is no agreement on who the right candidate is?

This is where aligning the team is critical, and failure to do so could lead to the breakdown of the recruitment process – which would be an enormous waste of everyone’s time.

At the beginning of a Corvus Assured project, we work with the stakeholders to identify the requirements of the role, but this goes deeper than just the skills and qualifications. We use behavioural assessments to look at the ideal candidate from each of the stakeholder’s perspectives and work with them to align these views with their peers. This gives us the ability to find agreement on the desired candidate.

Once the assessments have been carried out internally, we use this profile as part of the recruitment process for candidates. This helps ensure that the cultural/behavioural fit is right. For one of our repeat Corvus Assured clients, this is their reason why. They opt for an Executive Search because they know that the stakeholders are all on the same page going into the process.

You have likely seen it before – hire for experience but fire for culture. You can teach some aspects of a role, but you can’t teach someone how they behave. In my experience, especially at a senior level, if you are aligned with your company, you will thrive. You feel connected to your peers, have the same ethics/viewpoint, and are easily bought into the company’s guiding principles. It’s easy because you know you are in the right company for you. That’s what aligning the team will deliver.

The second area is a robust recruitment and attraction process, tailored to the role and candidate profile. I once had a client who didn’t want to be involved in the long list, an initial list of candidates that are considered a fit for the role. Why would they waste their time when that’s what they pay us for? Here’s the thing – you know your business better than we ever will. You know your competitors and their reputation in the local marketplace. You know the companies you don’t want to recruit from. Years’, potentially decades, worth of knowledge that we just don’t have. Investing more time in the initial process will help us to attract the candidates you are looking for and produce a suitable, qualified shortlist.

To create these custom approaches, we work together with our clients to get a deeper understanding of their business. This requires an investment of time from both parties at the beginning of the process, but it ensures every stage, from the initial phone calls to the interview process, is bespoke to the role, the business, and the candidate, helping to secure success.

And finally, is partnership – not a transactional ‘send me some CV’s’ relationship. We problem solve and work together to find solutions. No recruitment process is without issues, because let’s face it, we are dealing with people. It’s working with someone with the experience and expertise to provide you with options and solutions that you potentially haven’t considered previously.

We have a depth of experience in recruitment, so we work together with our clients to decide how we deal with any situations that occur during the process. Salaries outside of the range, perceptions of your business, specific candidate requirements – there is a myriad of situations that I have seen arise. We deal with them together.

So, now you know when to choose Executive Search, but does this mean guaranteed success? In short, no.

If your role is impossible to fill from a skills, remuneration, or location standpoint, then we have no problem telling you – sometimes the person you are looking for simply does not exist. However, at that point, we will work with you to explore the options available, so that you can make an informed decision in terms of where you go from here. 

It has happened to me once in the past when we took on a Corvus Assured assignment and in the end, we did not fill the role. My client, an amazing local brand which had gone through explosive growth over the last number of years, pivoted mid-process and changed the entire focus of job role and job title.  High growth typically means a dynamic environment where change can come rapidly.

Was I still happy to take payment for the first stages of the process? Yes, because a great deal of time and effort was invested into the process. Did I shrug my shoulders and move on? Absolutely not. I have never felt so disappointed and deflated. I know it’s hard to believe, but when taking on a Corvus Assured assignment, we make a commitment to fill it – it’s personal. We trust our process and enjoy delivering unique and complex assignments. We are passionate about what we do. We care about our reputation and our relationships with clients and candidates. This applies to Agency and Executive Search, so you don’t have to choose. Your recruitment partner will guide you as to what works best for your business and the role. If you ever need some assistance, feel free to reach out. Our team of experts are always happy to help.


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