Executive recruiters provide a suite of extremely valuable services for businesses and organizations that need to secure the most talented leaders in a very competitive marketplace. The essential role played by executive recruiters was magnified during the COVID-19 pandemic when operations went virtual. Fortunately, Slone Partners has been an all-virtual company for more than 20 years and was able to quickly pivot to the ‘new normal’ and counsel their client partners who had little or no experience with virtual hiring.
As the pandemic wanes and operations begin normalizing again, the opportunities for executive recruiters will become even more exciting. Hunt Scanlon Media reports that business is returning to 2019 levels for many executive recruiters, calling it “a significant turnaround for a sector that had put itself on pause last spring.” The pandemic also greatly reduced worker mobility in the United States, but The Wall Street Journal reports that an increasing number of workers are now prepared to move jobs in the coming months. Our executive recruiters at Slone Partners are busier than ever as we work with our client partners who have a pent-up demand for securing C-suite leaders.
The executive recruiting process is complex and multi-faceted and is specified for the client partners’ needs and timetables. In general, however, the process consists of seven important components:
#1 Engaging the Firm
The best executive recruiters build and maintain long-lasting relationships with their client partners to ensure they are always aligned with company leadership and deeply knowledgeable about the company’s operations and culture. When engaging new firms in the life sciences, the Slone Partners executive team provides the prospective client with a clear vision of how the process will be managed from beginning to end, underscoring the value we bring as a partner. We also do our research early so that we are prepared to identify and articulate the company’s unique value differentiators when we begin recruiting candidates.
#2 Holding Launch Meetings
Once the firm is engaged, we begin a series of launch meetings designed to facilitate information exchange and the development of an operational plan. These meetings involve top company leadership and the executive recruiters assigned to that client. The insights gleaned from these meetings inform the search strategy, tactics, and timetables.
#3 Creating Positions and Specifying Candidate Specs
Seasoned executive recruiters like Slone Partners are experts in guiding their client partners through the complex process of creating new roles within their organizations. This guidance includes helping define responsibilities, reporting structures, and compensation arrangements, and is often based on the creation of similar new positions for other clients. Executive recruiters also assist their client partners in crafting detailed job descriptions to appeal to the widest and most qualified pool of potential candidates. Accurately identifying and articulating the candidate specifications, based not on how the position was defined in the past, but on how it will evolve in the future, is a critically important factor in attracting top-quality interested candidates. As management consultant Whitney Johnson argues in Harvard Business Review,
“If you think the job you’re hiring for hasn’t changed in the last five years — or even in the past year — then it’s probably just about the only thing in your organization that hasn’t. And the practice of over-inflation of job qualifications often discourages desirable candidates to apply — candidates with potential who won’t be easily bored in the role. So instead of leaning on these approaches, learn to pinpoint what you really need from a new hire in order to properly compose and position the job description.”
It is also critical to avoid gender-biased or other language that can discourage potential female and/or minority candidates. Executive recruiters have the experience and knowledge to help guide their client partners in writing accurate, appealing, and inclusive job descriptions needed to attract the most talented and diverse pool of candidates.
#4 Devising a Research Strategy
Following the initial launch meetings, the executive recruiters formulate a research strategy, one that is almost always devised to attract the widest pool of potential candidates, including women and people of color who have historically been underrepresented in the life sciences. By using both traditional and non-traditional recruiting techniques, executive recruiters can attract people outside traditional silos and networks, providing the client with a large group of qualified candidates – both active and passive. Execution of the research strategy involves the entire team at Slone Partners, including our executive recruiters, research team and support staff, and executive leadership.
#5 Qualifying Prospects
Executive recruiters like Slone Partners are well acquainted with the talented leaders in our networks and will begin building the candidate pool by tapping those networks and others where we identify and qualify the initial prospects. Prospects are screened not just for their scientific knowledge, leadership experience, and successes, but also for their capacity to positively contribute to that particular company’s culture and to thrive as a team player and leader. As organizational psychologist David Burkus writes in Harvard Business Review,
“We’ve assumed for a long time that individual performance is the result of an individual’s knowledge, skills, and abilities. But the more we research, the more we learn that there is more to it. Collaboration and team dynamics have a significant impact on individual performance since even individual performance is affected by the team you’re serving on and the resources that team (and the whole company) can provide.”
We work closely with our client partners throughout the recruiting process to ensure that top-quality candidates are engaged at the right moment and the process moves swiftly enough to preclude the possibility of those candidates accepting another offer.
#6 Scheduling Interviews
Our support team works closely with our executive recruiters at Slone Partners to ensure a smooth interview process, for both the client partners and candidates. The process is sequenced to maximize efficiency while eliciting the inputs needed to honestly and effectively ascertain the qualifications of candidates and their potential to contribute to the company’s unique culture. We help our client partners understand the nuances of each particular search, and walk them through the dos and don’ts as the interview process unfolds. And finally, the best executive recruiters like Slone Partners strive to ensure complete confidentiality throughout the process, from the initial engagement to the final round of interviews and placement.
#7 Closing and Onboarding Candidates
Once the final interviews are complete, executive recruiters meet with the client partners’ hiring team to review the candidates and determine a final choice. Slone Partners then performs detailed reference checks, and assists in the development and presentation of an offer, and the subsequent negotiations. We are committed to a successful result consisting of a signed offer and onboard planning.
As a service to its client partners throughout the U.S., Slone Partners has partnered with Fortify Leadership Group to offer transition coaching to each of its newly-placed executive leaders, an extremely valuable service that many other executive recruiters do not offer.
Securing the most talented leaders for your life sciences organization can be daunting, but executive recruiters like Slone Partners can provide your team with the strategies, guidance, and support needed to ensure a smooth and successful executive search.