The candidate advocate

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  • 1. The Candidate AdvocateImprove your chances of hiring outstanding experienced consultantsJason Sanders, Ivy Exec V.P. of Executive SearchThe Candidate Advocate is not an administrator, nor a recruiter. The Candidate Advocate doesnot simply set up interviews and deliver feedback; they represent your candidates’ interests. Itmay seem counterintuitive to appoint such a person, but your must consider your candidates’point of view in order to effectively hire. A candidate advocate can facilitate spoken and unspokencommunications allowing you to present yourself and your company in their best possible light.Even the very best consulting firms lose good candidates. Hiring companies may turn candidatesoff by delaying interviews, providing unclear feedback or simply by not paying enough attention.An overly full interview pipeline prevents new prospects from entering your hiring process. Youmay waste valuable executive time micro-managing recruitment. You may not provide or receivevaluable feedback. If you are losing your best candidates, you may want to consider appointing aCandidate Advocate.A Candidate Advocate plays a critical marketing role as you compete for scarce talent. You have ashort period of time and limited communication with your prospects and you need to make thebest impression possible. Your candidates’ emotional reactions to you and your hiring processcritically impact your ability to hire.The care you take creating a favorable impression to candidates should reflect the care you takedeveloping business with new clients. When you sell services, you create the strongest messagespossible, plan the delivery of those messages, seek help from subject matter experts, anddelegate the administration of your process. You provide leadership and only directly involveyourself in the highest value areas. A good Candidate Advocate not only will provideadministrative support, they will act as a subject matter expert about your recruiting process andyour prospective hires.
  • 2. An employer has a number of tools available to motivate experienced candidates. These include:higher compensation, greater responsibility and growth, stability and vision for the company,exciting projects, and above all, a personal connection with the hiring manager.Experienced consultants consistently cite their feelings about the people they will work with as atop reason for joining a new firm. While it may be difficult or impossible to change manyaspects of your company, it is quite possible to enhance the impression you make withthe very best candidates. The first step, of course, is to identify those outstanding candidates.Consult your own network, ask your staff, and perhaps even engage an external recruiter. You areon your way. Now that you have begun to source candidates, how do you manage a successfulhiring process?1. You want to give yourself access to the best candidates available by crafting and delivering astrong message about your firm and your opportunity. Make sure you convey a qualitymessage to a select audience. You want to let prospects know about your opportunity, butmake sure to preserve your brand broadcasting your opening carefully.2. Once you have a pipeline of prospects, you will want to narrow the field as efficiently aspossible, so that you can effectively build relationships with the best candidates. Rely onyour recruiters and staff to conduct the first screening interviews, but make yourself available forurgent initial conversations. Great candidates must be pursued and do not remain on themarket long. Put yourself at the head of the interview line, when necessary.3. Once you have identified good candidates, you must manage an effective interview process.This includes screening out the wrong people. You MUST make rapid, effective decisionsabout the candidates in your pipeline. The single most common error made in hiring is tomanage a large pipeline of candidates without reaching closure. It may seem like morecandidates are better, but inactive candidates clog your process and do not make room for newer,more qualified prospects. Reducing the number of candidates quickly motivates yourrecruiting team to bring more qualified professionals to the table.4. Negotiating an offer and closing the deal is critical to this process. At each step along the way,you learn more about your candidates and they learn more about you. The trick is to build theclosest relationships with the best candidates early on and intensify it through the process.This serves the dual function of allowing you to make a more informed choice, while creating apositive impression.
  • 3. You can begin to address these issues by appointing a professional charged with representingyour candidates. Instinct may tell you to hire a recruiting coordinator, or someone mandated todirectly represent your own interests. Think about reversing this approach and appointing aCandidate Advocate to represent your candidates’ interests. Ultimately, this will serve yourgoal of hiring the very best.It may seem counterintuitive to commission such a role, but this person will open critical linesof communication. The best Candidate Advocate will force you to make decisions,administer an effective process and hone your message to prospective employees.A Candidate Advocate provides you with the following valuable services:  Time management  Relationship maintenance  Feedback mechanism  Ability to adjust to your needs  Pushes you to make decisionsA Candidate Advocate manages time.Since you are working hard to fulfill client obligations, appoint someone who will help you managetime. Set expectations properly and this person will update your candidate pipeline with minimaleffort. They will provide brief, regular status reports. Make time for quick weekly phone calls andagree upon a goal for numbers of candidates in the funnel. This encourages the advocate to fillthe funnel when it is low and obliges you to take people out when it is overflowing.A Candidate Advocate maintains relationships.Sometimes, your personal connection to candidates is irreplaceable. At other times, less directcontact promotes a good impression of you and your company. You may be able to foster arelationship with something as simple as quickly providing basic feedback. It could be as involvedas flying a candidate to your client site for meeting, with you, your team or even your clients.Maintaining regular contact is absolutely essential to keeping your best candidates interested inyour opportunity, and a Candidate Advocate can help you decide on the most effective course ofaction.
  • 4. A Candidate Advocate facilitates feedback. Candidate Advocate JobAn effective process includes giving and receiving prompt Descriptionfeedback. A third party fills this role most effectively, The Candidate Advocate facilitates asince that person takes direct candidate pressure off your smoothly running interview process,shoulders. An advocate helps build relationships by maximizes the efficiency of screening and focuses resources on bringing the bestproviding clear feedback to your prospects. You may candidates on board.also solicit candid feedback about yourself, so that yourmessage to the market becomes stronger. Finally, Potential sources for a CA include:feedback allows your advocate address and adjust to 1) A senior member of the practice 2) An HR or recruiting executiveyour needs. 3) An external executive search consultantA Candidate Advocate adjusts to your needs. Responsibilities include: Facilitate the creation of a positionAs you build a relationship with your candidate advocate, description, which can be a benchmark usedthat person will understand your requirements and adjust in an initial screen of candidatesaccordingly. Your process will become more effective as Work with recruiters and researchers to buildthat person’s relationships become richer and better and manage a candidate pipeline Ensure that all interviewers have all thefocused on top prospects. Your advocate will help set materials they need to interview candidatescandidate expectations and facilitate a smooth interview Act as a communications hub for the hiringprocess. manager, candidates and recruiters Ensure that the hiring manager makes clear, timely decisions.A Candidate Advocate compels you to make Ensure that negative feedback provides adecisions. basis for improvement Coach the hiring manager and the team toIn order to maintain the integrity of your hiring process, court the best candidatesyou must make timely decisions about candidates. Slowdecision making can cost you time, your recruiters’ A qualified CA must:motivation and your best candidates. Be a trusted advisor, empowered to carry out the role Have enough time available to manage theA Candidate Advocate candidate pipelinehelps you cut through the tendency to put mediocre Possess an ability to understand candidate motivations and make judgments about theircandidates on hold waiting for better ones to come interest in the opportunityalong. Keeping these candidates on the hook preventsyou from fine-tuning your job spec and clogs the pipelineso that other candidates cannot enter your process.
  • 5. A Candidate Advocate promotes your personal contact with the best candidates. Go out ofyour way to establish at least one outstanding contact with each great candidate.This could be getting on a plane for an interview, taking them to dinner for a social conversationor inviting them in to a team meeting. Your advocate will know your candidates well, and willadvise you when additional attention makes sense. This should be used infrequently with only thevery best candidates, but it will differentiate you from your competition. Candidates get only smallglimpses into the way it will feel working for their new potential employer. Make sure they see thevery best in you.So, now you have decided to create the Candidate Advocate role within your organization. Wheredo you find such a person? You probably do not need to look far. One of your direct reports,an internal recruiting executive or your executive search partner should fill the rolewell. Your direction and the description of their function may be more important than theindividual you choose.In appointing this person, you agree to follow the guidance of an expert, rather than makingdecisions on your own. This probably sounds like the same kind of mandate you seek from yourown client. When you select a Candidate Advocate you create a consulting role, not justan administrative one.Ultimately, candidates base much of their decision on the culture of the firm and the people theymeet. They may be more tolerant of a longer process, if you have the right opportunity for them.There is a limit though, and many good candidates will vanish if you do not build strong, ongoingrelationships. Consciously or not, candidates make emotional decisions about what offerto accept. If you have an active job seeker on your hands, the prospect may be looking at anumber of similar offers from competitors.Make the most of your limited time. Court the best prospects most effectively, and let yourCandidate Advocate handle the rest.