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Take a look at yesterday’s Sunday Times appointments section….or rather, the appointments page, gone are the days when it had its own section. It now struggles to even fill a whole page. And yet, there is still approaching £100,000 worth of advertising contained within that one page, with each advert costing £10-15,000.

Amongst them only one quotes a salary, and that is a ‘Chair’ role paying £16k pa, withGary Chaplin Sunday Times no mention of time required. Irrespective, it’s paying well below market rate (but then, they have an advertisement AND recruitment fee to pay…!)

Trying to read between the lines of these 7 advertisements, (which one has to, as most don’t give any real specific information) each of these roles is seeking to attract highly qualified, professional, upper-quartile individuals that will lead 7 leading/large/critically important organisations into a more prosperous future. Yet all 7 adverts are doing nothing to attract anything other than very active jobseekers, pro-actively trawling job pages, rooting out the Appointments sections, hidden in the back of one of the other sections, applying for roles that *might* be a fit based on Job Title, location or probably, their own ‘eagerness’ to find a new role.

ESP aside, such advertisements will do nothing to attract those Executives who are not actively seeking new opportunities. From my experience, majority of businesses recruiting at C-Level/Exec Grade want the best, and most consider that the best will typically be fully engaged, spending their time in their businesses, not trawling advertisements in hidden sections in the Sunday Papers.

All but two of today’s adverts have been placed by Executive Search firms, usually either indulging their own egos/PR through high-profile paper-based adverts, or fulfilling pre-agreed quotas with paper-based media. Either way, not the best use of client money.

…but others are organisations being ‘smarter’ and advertising direct, typically in ignorant faith that they can do just as good a job as a professional (one wonders if the same Procurement Strategy will see different HR middle-management don a wig and enter court rather than engaging an experienced legal professional?) .

The nature of such a method, state of the advertisements and criminal waste of organisations’ money and time with no guarantee of response, let alone a successful conclusion being proof about how un-commercial and misguided in-house recruitment departments often are.

Such an approach is dire, and tells a huge amount about how these organisations value their staff. When people are the key resource behind any organisation, and C-Level/Board Level/Execs are arguably top the list, the attraction of this prime resource should be given prime focus – not subject to a half-cocked approach.

Many of these 7 advertisements have been, or will be subject of heavily discounted, or even free reruns, as recruitment managers seek to mitigate a poor response by blaming the outdated process and media that they have foolishly chosen, and paid c£15,000 for the privilege. But it won’t be the fault of the in-house recruitment function protected with a Teflon coating that would make an Income Tax minimising Government minister proud.

The really tragic thing is, for the same cost that these eight organisations have incurred in placing a poorly written advertisement in dying media, I could have undertaken and concluded a full search process, committed [in most cases] to a 8 week turnaround and guaranteed the result with a 100% cash refund promise.

Even more tragic….by it’s very nature, a full Head-Hunting exercise will elicit those executives NOT (pro)actively job seeking, and NOT applying for any job advert vaguely appropriate – the quality of such individuals is typically significantly different.

But rather than ensuring that every penny is spent on a process with a guaranteed result, these organisations have adopted a *smart approach* that sees them incur the same costs but in blind hope that they will get a response in the first place (despite the advert’s shortcomings and lack of information)…..and that such a response will be of reasonable quality….and that they will be able to engage such a response into a recruitment process….and through a recruitment process….and to the point of a job offer to an executive that fulfils the roles criteria….and to that Exec’s acceptance of the offer.

Such a DIY approach is akin to an enthusiastic amateur tackling the construction of a complex house-extension; except a failed recruitment process has the potential for far wider reaching problems and opportunity cost.

A recent search process we undertook was for an organisation that insisted on advertising the opportunity publicly. The HR Director wanted a broad-sheet newspaper advertisement carrying a £13,800 rate card. We advised, via the CEO, to opt for a “premium” internet advertisement to cover the same criteria of external advertisement. The advert was a success. It elicited 1,029 responses. Of those responses, 4 were worthy of interviewing and none made the ultimate short-list. From our search, we had 24 contenders, 18 were good enough to interview, 5 were shortlisted and 3 were deemed worth offering the job to.

……the real irony is, the individual that secured the role admitted that she got the daily email alert from the site in question, she just didn’t read as she wasn’t actively looking….and assumed that most were fictitious roles used by “agencies’ to fill their database.

In-house recruitment functions DO have a significant place in recruitment and have revolutionised mass recruitment (usually through BPO), as well as the introduction of junior colleagues and future talent. Many without question add value by acting as a qualified, selfless intermediary between head-hunter and the business.  The time and cost saving in those areas can be immense – but most businesses undo such savings through the misguided belief that they can undertake executive recruitment using the same capabilities, competencies and processes that are effective at the opposite end of the corporate structure. Twice this year, I have had processes almost derailed by the time delays caused through the introduction of needless processes into executive search, introducing screening process used to hire graduates or ‘ground-level’ hires that in-turn, dissuade exec and senior managerial candidates.

Most forward-looking businesses are catching up on the realisation that advertising and passive strategies just don’t work any more. There is little surprise that all of yesterday’s advertisements are from either the Public Sector, or the Third Sector. Last FullSizeRender week’s appointment section did have two of the three lonely advertisements from the Private Sector. One was actually a Franchise Partners advert, the other, ironically, looking for HR Directors.

There is still a long way to go however. In the quest for ever more skilled talent, in ever more competitive market, passive approaches to find that the ‘unicorn’ candidate are a risky approach.

Gambling on the attraction of Executives and business leaders is akin to putting your company profits on the roulette wheel. Put your faith in a HeadHunter…not Rupert Murdoch.

Contact me to understand how to get a guaranteed successful conclusion to your recruitment process.

Gary Chaplin HeadShot Logo