Search is a two-way process. Most of our candidates are not responding to an advert with a CV and covering letter but have been engaged personally by one of our team on your behalf. These candidates will be scrutinising what your organisation offers them in much the same way that you will evaluate what their candidacy offers you. This is because the best candidates often need persuading to move because they are invested and valuable in their current role. So, how do you attract these candidates?
Given that many of our clients are charities, we know your hearts may fall as you read this. Charities simply cannot compete with a private sector salary; we know this, and so do the best candidates. If it’s not financially viable for a candidate to change sector, they won’t. But this is not the kind of competitive salary we’re talking about.
Salaries need to reflect the roles to which they’re tied. If you run a highly complex charity, or if you’re looking for someone who has an excellent track record of leading strategic growth, the salary of the CEO needs to reflect this. Salaries are interpreted as measures of how seriously a role is taken, and the calibre of an organisation. We’re not urging you to pay beyond what you can afford, but encouraging a realistic engagement over what you’re asking a candidate to take on: a worker is worth his or her wages (1 Timothy 5:18).
Also remember: it’s easy as a Trustee/Chair who already has captured the vision of a charity to expect a candidate to grasp this from the off. Candidates may never have heard of your organisation before. You want everything they initially read, including the salary, to reflect the tone and vision of what you’re trying to achieve. For more on this, see Allan’s blog on CEO recruitment.
Ability to effect change
Employees of any rank not being able to effect change where they see area for improvement is one of the most common factors in someone moving on. As trustees or a CEO shaping a role, ensuring that the structure surrounding and supporting your senior positions enables them to deliver, not only on their KPIs but on other elements that they might discover, is vital. Organisations which are ponderous and in which the trustees/SMT are resistant to change are unlikely to attract dynamic leaders who want to know that they are having an impact in their place of work.
It is tempting when engaging a consultant or presenting your organisation to a candidate to want to hide the areas which are more difficult. Whether there is an emotional complexity in your office, or a financial issue looming, the best candidates will be seeking to gain an authentic picture of their potential new employer – as will search firms! We prize emotional intelligence and self-awareness in the leaders we appoint, and such people have a good nose for the mess in organisations. Humility and honesty are essential for candidates to begin to build trust with their new employer – and they’re also vital for us as we engage candidates on your behalf. We’re not encouraging you to lay out every blemish and blot in your business or charity, but to develop a frank and engaging picture which is true to who you are – warts and all. Because the best candidates enjoying effecting change, this often ends up being a winsome tactic in persuading them to join your ranks.
Honouring Interview Processes
All candidates will expect to have to jump through certain hoops in an interview process, to demonstrate particular abilities which are required to do the job. But it is tempting as an employer to make these tick box exercises the focal point of the interview process. This can leave candidates feeling as though they are numbers, that their time and effort is not appreciated, that they are not being interviewed wholistically. Taking the time to design an interview process which honours the candidates’ time and characters goes a long way to woo them.
This piece was written by Abi, our Senior Research Associate.
Other posts by Abi include:
Reflection on the year 2021/22
What I learned in my first 8 months of search
Productivity and Flexibility: Would period leave benefit your female employees?