3 Steps to Hiring and Retaining the Right Executive

Senior Financial ExecutiveBy:  Tracy Levine, Chairman and CEO, Advantage Talent Inc.

The top reason given by Executives actively searching for a new opportunity is their current company misrepresented the job on the front end.

1.)  Before you can hire the employee you need, you must define clear responsibilities for the position you are hiring the candidate to fill.

Executives tend to be movers and shakers: the get it done employee.  Never discussing more than the general job description with no defined resources and timelines leads to Executive disengagement.  Many hiring managers switch into the salesman mode once they find a candidate that they are interested in hiring.  It is tempting to pass over the specifics of the heavy lifting involved in the job and focus on general goals.  If you have target deadlines, then share with the candidate those deadlines and the resources they will have to accomplish the stated goal.  Or if you are needing someone to lead and keep the status quo, tell the candidate.  But also, be clear on what aspects they will be judged on in their review.

2.)  Don’t hire on gut instinct alone.

Bringing your personal biases to the table can keep you from hiring the best Executive for the job.  Hiring the right Executive is a complex decision.  According to Harvard Business Review, “The more complex the situation, the more misleading intuition becomes.” (1)  Do not jump to quick decisions in the first few minutes of an interview.  Both the candidate and interviewer can have off days.  Take time to dig deep into specific job performance goals and finding out what is in the candidate’s tool kit to achieve these goals.

3.)  Lose your biases when defining what is needed to for the job.

Time and time again, we see hiring managers miss getting the top Executive for their position because of hiring manager biases.   An example of this bias are hiring managers that state MBA required.  Good hiring begins with accessing current and future capabilities, current expertise and past job success as the first sorter.  Education should be considered as a backend requirement as part of a holistic review of the candidate.

Many companies are moving away from using degree requirements as the most important qualification.  “Academic qualifications will still be taken into account and indeed remain an important consideration when assessing candidates as a whole, but will no longer act as a barrier to getting a foot in the door,” …. Maggie Stilwell, Ernst and Young’s managing partner for talent” (2)

Are there Job Opportunities in a “Break the Buck” Wall Street Economy?

    Recruiters are never more popular than in a “Break the Buck” Wall Street Economy.  “Break the Buck” is a Wall Street Term that means that when you invest money in a conservative Money Market Fund which is like a bank CD that earns interest and somehow the dollar you invested is worth less than one dollar.  This type of economic situation puts the fear of unemployment into even the most secure of employees.

      Over the past couple of months more people have been “just checking in” and not just people who have found themselves suddenly and unexpectedly unemployed.  Everyone seems to be on edge waiting for the next axe to fall.  Many who are currently employed are worried that they will be thrown ruthlessly and unexpectedly into the world as a job hunter.

      The following seems to be the most common current discussion.

Bad News: The economy is bad.  According to recent statistics approximately 130,000 people from Wall Street are unemployed and the layoffs are trickling down to all industries. The Department of Labor numbers continue to show record high unemployment.

Better News: In an economic downturn, the typical company takes knee jerk actions and fires large quantities of employees quickly without a true business plan other than to quickly cut overhead.  While this limits and decreases the number of permanent jobs, the number of contract jobs typically increases as companies decide that one person cannot do everything.  Yes.  There are still opportunities for employment. 

What are we seeing? In the Finance and Accounting Industry, we are seeing more contract opportunities.  Companies are not looking for generalists but employees that can come in and fix a specific problem or perform an essential function. 

What does this mean for me?  It sounds cliché but now is the time to keep up all professional certifications, software certifications and brush up on old skills, acquire new skills that are quantifiable and network.

By: Tracy Levine, Advantage Talent, Inc., CMO and President