By Brad Veal, Senior Consultant, MSA Executive Search
Having worked in executive search for nearly 20 years, I would like to point out some consistently repeated behaviors that negatively impact candidates and keep professionals from effectively partnering with executive search consultants. The good news is that many of these are fairly easy to fix.
One of the most important behaviors in working with an executive search firm is transparency. With most executive searches, there are many interested candidates, and busy executive search consultants will not waste much time with a candidate that is closed-lipped or answers questions circuitously.This is not the time to hide information or act coy. If you are interested in the position, let us know why. We love it when candidates are excited and can give us well-reasoned interest in a position. Also, share your progress on other ongoing searches. You don’t need to name the other organization(s), as we understand that candidates are likely looking at more than one open position, but just keep us apprised on the status of your other interviews.
We understand that many professionals have had a hiccup or two in their career. The days of spending 20+ years with one employer are pretty much gone. With the economic problems in the last several years, we have seen an increasing number of downsizing and layoffs. This is by no means a cause to be ashamed. All we ask is that you are honest about your reason(s) for leaving an organization(s), and be willing to provide references that will support that information.
An area where many candidates are tight-lipped is in regards to relocation questions. Years of HR training have led many of us to fear sharing personal information. However, aside from professional fit, relocation issues are the next biggest hurdle for prospective candidates. Please talk to your spouse and consider family and personal issues before expressing interest. Is your family supportive of the move? Does your spouse need a job? Specific kids’ activities required (swimming, soccer, gifted program, etc.)? Can you sell your home? Again, we want to make this process as seamless as possible and foresee any potential issues as early as we can. Most executive search consultants want to work with you to help with these issues, and many can connect a candidate with realtors, school administrators, chamber of commerce, or other sources in the community.
Finally, what about the dreaded conversation regarding salary? We hold no judgment about your current compensation, so please share it early. The reason we ask is simple – does this position make sense for the candidate financially? If you are at $400,000 and our position pays $250,000,the position likely doesn’t make sense for you. However, if that same position is in your hometown where all your family live and the cost of living is very low, we understand and can work with that information. Also, at some point in the search process, proceeding candidates will be required to share their salary and background release, so it’s just easier on everyone to proactively discuss it.