Recruiting for Success: Getting Below the Surface

The best recruiters are alchemists. They seek to understand and weave a relationship between the hiring company, the hiring manager and the candidate. Most importantly, they look beyond the short-term gains and resist pressure to close the deal too quickly. Instead, they think holistically, looking beyond surface compatibility to explore long-term alignment. Finding a perfect fit may seem like magic, but successful outcomes can be predicted based on key compatibility factors.

For example, they might explore a candidate’s values. Do they align with the organization’s culture and values? Great recruiters also learn about a candidate’s expectations and the environment in which they thrive. Will a candidate seeking a high-growth business be disappointed to discover that the company they just joined is in Renewal or Decline? Does the candidate prefer to work independently, and how will this mesh with a manager that tends toward micro-management?

These factors matter. It’s tempting to stick to the surface to expedite the hiring process and meet immediate needs. But in the long run, it is costly to both the hiring company and the candidate, who soon find themselves frustrated and needing to begin the whole process anew.

Recently, a senior executive I was coaching recounted a crystal clear memory related to her own experience being recruited 8 years earlier. She recalled feeling great pressure from the recruiter to accept the offer and she didn’t take the time to do her own due diligence. Looking back, she regretted not knowing more about the political environment she was entering. Unfortunately, this story is all too common.

Similarly, I have seen candidates hop from one job to another in search of the right fit. Given the competition for top talent, it is easy for them to explain leaving due to a culture mismatch, long commute or higher salary. However, the real story is that the relationship was likely doomed from the start. By hopping from one poor fit to another, they perpetuate the cycle.

Most search engagements stay on the surface and seldom venture into the underlying compatibility factors that best predict a successful placement. This may be due to a desire for expedience or a lack of awareness. It may also be due to an inherent desire to look good — everyone wants to put their best foot forward during the courting process. Organizations may not want to admit that their values are not embodied in their leadership or culture. Candidates may fear appearing overly needy or demanding if they inquire too deeply about the company or hiring manager’s style. Regardless of the reason, without a deeper and perhaps more vulnerable dialogue, the perfect fit can be elusive.

This is where an experienced recruiter can work magic. By establishing trust, safeguarding confidentiality and being skilled at thoughtful inquiry, they can get below the surface to identify an ideal match while also maintaining a firewall that protects all parties.

It’s my belief that all parties share responsibility for better outcomes. Both the recruiter and recruited need to be prepared to slow down and engage in the deeper conversations that will reveal whether it’s best to move forward or keep searching for the right fit. With economic uncertainty in recent memory, candidates may feel they can’t afford to hold out. But I believe this dynamic has shifted and candidates hold the upper hand today, as long as they do their research, arm themselves with tough questions, and remember that the interview process cuts both ways.

As all parties share responsibility, all parties share in the benefits. Ultimately the goal is a shared one – the right fit and rewarding relationships that benefit all parties and last.

About:  Eugene Dilan, Psy.D., SPHR, SHRM-SCP is the Founder and CEO of the Dilan Consulting Group.


Five Easy-To-Avoid Mistakes Leaders Make


As an executive coach who has worked with some incredibly bright, well-intentioned, and successful people, I guarantee that all leaders are capable of making damaging mistakes that are easily avoided.

Sometimes, this happens because of personal blind spots. We all have them–those features of ourselves that others can see but we can’t. You think of yourself as someone who tells it like it is. Others who have been on the receiving end of your ‘brutal honesty’ see you as far more brutal than honest.

Blind spots can be especially crippling for leaders in high-powered positions who only get positive feedback, because others are intimidated by them. In the absence of criticism it’s easy to get self-deluded. Even when frank feedback is presented, the receiver has to be willing to take it on board.

Here are five avoidable mistakes that leaders make and some coaching tips that will make you a more effective leader:

1) Avoid sarcasm. Humor that we can all laugh at is jocular. Humor that is at someone else’s expense is jugular. Sarcasm is jugular and can cut deep without meaning to and without you realizing it. Just because someone is laughing on the outside doesn’t mean they aren’t seething on the inside. This may be one of the simplest of all leadership mistakes to avoid, but the hardest habit to break if you don’t recognize sarcasm’s destructive potential.

2) Be consistent. There is nothing so disingenuous as a leader who takes one stand on an issue for one audience and a different stand for another. This isn’t just the stuff of political attack ads. Bosses who give different accounts to different groups run the same risk. It is simply too easy in our networked world for people to compare notes and figure out something is not right. It’s not just the content that has to be consistent; the style of delivery is important, too. Acting gravely concerned in front of one audience but flippant with another on the same subject is bound to come back to bite you.

3) Share personal concerns judiciously. Leaders need confidantes. The old adage is true: It’s lonely at the top. But recognize that as a leader your followers look up to you and can’t be expected to pick you up when you’re down. Those folks are probably struggling with their own challenges, and it undercuts their confidence in you when they have to listen to your troubles. Find an external coach or mentor that you trust and confide in them.

4) Find out what silence means. You may be the most approachable person in the world, but don’t assume that others will open up to you. There are many reasons people keep quiet, and it may have nothing (or everything) to do with you. Ask what others are thinking, then keep quiet yourself.

5) Admit your mistakes. As hard as it can be to do, admit when you are wrong. Don’t justify or make excuses. Just say, “I blew it.” Then address what it’s going to take to make things right.

About:  Scott Mohler, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and organizational consultant with over 30 years experience.