Can you recruit your own senior executives?

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In-house recruitment is a subject we’ve touched on in several articles on the Barron Williams Blog. Not to rail against it, as many might assume, far from it! 

Directly advertising, interviewing, and hiring people yourself is something many of our clients can and will do. And sometimes successfully we may add. 

Many of them make a point of knowing the talent in-sector. If well networked, they’ll generally have a name or two to talk to if the need arises. And if that company has the right reputation, then that talent often comes to them.

However, if you do plan on bringing a role to market yourself, then of course you have to have the right people inside your organisation to facilitate it.

It takes time and a specific skillset to create a compelling role brief, correctly advertise it via your website and social channels, build internal databases, post on relevant job sites and develop a high-quality longlist of potential candidates.

And they’re just the basic steps, it is often the ‘dark arts’ of recruitment such as selling the organisation/role to those not active in the market, for example, that often make the difference. You need to be able to ‘manage’ candidates!

If you’ve got it, then why not go DIY and recruit your own senior executives?

If a client is seeking to fill a senior role, then we’ll often ask if they or their senior team have reached out to their network first. Particularly if sector experience is important.

If there’s somebody who fits the bill and they’re known to your organisation, then it makes perfect sense to consider them before you allocate the budget to a full search and selection process (be it in-house or agency). Unless you want to benchmark or recruit from the whole of the market, of course…

We work closely with many HR professionals who have the tools required to effectively recruit in-house, and do it well, but mainly for lower-level roles.

They have the know-how and resources to identify and attract good candidates, they are familiar with the latest tech, techniques and testing so they confidently streamline a recruitment process and develop/build any necessary processes.

So, if you can do it yourself: Why do you need us if you can go DIY and recruit your own senior executives? Can you recruit your own senior executives?

The difference between Barron Williams and in-house recruitment

Now, of course, there are pros and cons between recruiting yourself and outsourcing to an agency such as ours. 

We simply ask our clients to carefully weigh them up and make sure you have a frank and honest conversation with us before any decision is made.

Well treat a situation as unique and offer open and honest advice. We’re in the relationship for the long-term and not chasing every potential brief.

At Barron Williams we have a saying we find ourselves repeating often in these types of conversations; “you don’t need the fire brigade until there is a fire”. 

Recruitment is all about timing. The right people, in the right place at the right time. Time costs money, so can your business afford to waste it of the right decision is to partner with a professional provider?

We often find with many of our clients who operate in niche/specialist sectors that it’s like a village and word gets around. 

They know who (and where) the talented execs are, they have a contact network they can tap into. If the solution is to hand, fine. But do it quickly, you might get lucky.

However, the shrewd also know when they’ve exhausted options or when they need a fresh pair of experienced eyes on a complex hire. 

The big problem with fishing in a small pond is you’ll soon catch or miss. And are you sure you’re getting the best person for the role from such a limited pool? Again, find out quickly.

Bring the post-pandemic climate into play and some are still reluctant to leave their current roles, paying back loyalty afforded during the lockdowns. And for other reasons, of course.

Even fielding a direct call from a competitor in 2022 needs the right approach!

Does in-house recruitment give you an advantage?

Many in-house recruitment teams have a hiring process that, on the face of things, looks to be successful. Reasonable response levels to job ads, LinkedIn approaches, etc. But again, it is primarily for lower-level roles.

Scratch the surface, dig down, analyse performance and it is often not effective (cost-per-hire and time-to-hire) for management level, never mind exec.

The main advantage of in-house recruitment, other than direct cost, is that you have greater control over the hiring and selection process. The focus is on your organisation and what it needs. But it still needs to be done well. 

Those managing the process work for, and therefore should best understand the organisation in terms of its culture. 

They know the culture and the type of person who will best ‘fit’ with the rest of the (often incredibly complex in terms of personalities) team, etc. But can they articulate it? Can they ‘sell’ it?

Also, whilst they know the inside, how well do they know the outside? The competitive environment for people has its own dynamics. Dynamics that we understand.

As we keep stressing of late, we are always in a war for talent, and as such, the climate is challenging, and always evolving, which means two things become important in a search:

1. That you know exactly who you are looking to hire and how to attract them.

2. That you know where to find the right talent, not just those that tick off requirements in a job description.

Culture is always critical but internal hiring often identifies those we like but not necessarily those that will drive the business forward. 

This is our secret sauce and the tightrope we walk daily. 

The more senior the hire, the more the role will shape the future of your organisation, so start the search with the attention to detail it necessitates, then prioritise the recruitment process accordingly.

The advantages of hiring Barron Williams for recruitment

The advantages of in-house must be challenged when you are operating in a market where candidates hold most of the power.

Is your internal process geared for a highly competitive market?

Recruiting for specialist and/or senior roles also requires an often complex process, and things don’t always go to plan.

Are you agile enough as an organisation to handle that and still “win”?

A recruitment agency like ours has the experience to deal with things when things go wrong. And they do…

Be it preferred candidates accepting another role at the 11th hour or deciding to stay put when their current employer counters. It happens. It’s how you react that counts!

Can you really succeed without significant time, cost and impact on your business?

We know the senior exec recruitment landscape

At Barron Williams we live and breathe recruitment, we’ve spent our entire existence understanding what makes a great hire, and how to best attract talented individuals for our clients.

It is always “work in progress”. 

Rather than focusing on a specific sector or function, we focus on process and practice. How to engage with people. To understand both sides and bring them together. 

This is particularly important in certain key roles. Our focus and primary objective is to fill those key roles with well-matched candidates. Matching CVs to JDs is easy – that’s not what’s key.

Good in-house recruitment practice can work very well, especially at junior levels. It gets much more difficult for more senior roles for a number of reasons.

We will sometimes see a small but highly skilled HR team taking on the recruitment process for a very senior role. Fair play and good luck.

And as we stressed earlier, whilst they may have the ability to do this, they are also responsible for a host of other things.

In other words, recruitment is not their primary function, especially search-based recruitment where candidate attraction is a complex process that takes time and specialist skills.

Having an unrivalled knowledge of the internal workings and culture of the company is advantageous, but having the time and resources to conduct a thorough search process is key.

And that’s before the selection process starts in earnest, bringing with it a set of new challenges.

The best hires are made when all avenues are explored

People do not always respond immediately to a direct approach about a role. It often takes time, practice and skill just to pique their interest.

Our networks are what gives us a unique advantage over in-house teams as it provides a big head start in starting those conversations. We have built networks and we build them constantly.

This is where our clients see our real value, and this is why we focus much of our efforts on ensuring we set the gold standard. It’s a key part of ensuring that we can access the people we want to.

We foster strong relationships with executives across multiple sectors and organisations, so when you need to hire at the senior level, we’re quickly able to build a tailored “spider web” of contacts and potential candidates specific to each role.

Our clients use us to get the inside track on the best and we can then shape the process to ensure the best make their shortlist.  

Of course, it goes much deeper than just the network itself but it is such an important tool.

We are committed to understanding the needs of our clients and meeting those needs with people who match the role requirements – including cultural ‘fit’.

Developing a strong understanding of not only the client’s business but their wider industry is all fed into our talent pipeline, continuously. 

Talking to the people currently in the industry sector gives great insight, and trust us, they’re more likely to talk to us.

That’s why we see ourselves as an extension of our client’s internal HR function. A temporary ‘turbo charge’ to help HR hire the best.

A true partnership is what achieves the best results. That means openness, honesty, shared values and genuine collaboration.

We own the problem and we will fix it but we need you to step up and give us access to you and the line manager to ensure this joint enterprise is successful.

The days of recruitment being purely a numbers game are long gone 

It simply doesn’t deliver the quality needed.

For senior roles, you need a focused talent search, period. You need the best from the market not just the best in your network or those actively seeking a new role.

And it is funny that the aforementioned “HR professionals who have all the tools required (and more) to effectively recruit in-house” are the ones who use us most?! Because they recognise when “going external” is the right thing to do.

Cost-per-hire is important and Time-to-hire is critical. Get it wrong and you lose. Big time.

According to research by the SHRM, the average time to fill a role is 42 days, but that varies between role and industry. 

For senior roles, we would argue that the figure is likely to be slightly longer, but it should always be tightly controlled.

The process has to keep moving, adapting, and pushing ahead to deliver the result. Quickly.

Candidate engagement is vital and that is something we know how to maintain. We keep in touch.

As well as an often “dark art”, recruitment is a fine art

Dealing with multiple candidates, contracts, new starters and those leaving is often difficult for a busy HR team to juggle.

Partnering with Barron Williams means you’re increasing your chances of finding the right candidate via the right process.

Many have experience hiring those actively seeking a new role but fewer are over-qualified to recruit senior execs who are not looking to move.

Go DIY if you think it’ll work and you have the team to facilitate such a complex process. But do it quickly.

Place your ad on your company website, LinkedIn or wherever you think the right people might see it. 

You should know in a couple of weeks max if is attracting the right people. 

If it is, fantastic. Call them, interview them, get them in front of the hiring manager and make a Y/N decision. If that fails, move on.

Just remember that time is money, and time-to-hire is a significant cost. How long can your company afford for the role to sit vacant?

Cards on the table, if you are filling a senior position, think before going “DIY”. 

Yes, check your network and “ask around” but it is a big gamble to leave a crucial (and strategically critical) role unfilled for a day longer than necessary for the sake of “being lucky” with an in-house recruitment process or a self-posted job ad!

Talk to us. No obligation, etc. We are here to discuss and help!

If you’re looking to work with a team dedicated to helping you find the right people to fulfil those crucial roles for your organisation, please use our Client Upload Form or call us today.

If you’re looking to find or apply for a new role, then please feel free to Upload Your CV or call us for an exploratory conversation.

And if you’re not already, please don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter!

Barron Williams

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