We were thrilled to be recruiting for one of the biggest and most recognised names in luxury fashion in New York, but it wasn’t easy! Like many other high-profile businesses, when it comes to attracting talent there is limited cause for concern. Even without a new job posting listed on the website or LinkedIn, the number of applications received daily far outweighs the number of new positions arising in the business. On the face of it, this would seem a highly desirable position to be in with the only challenge being how to manage the sheer volume of applications. This, however, is not always the case as our client’s team discovered when recently recruiting their new Head of Global Treasury Technology.
Here is an overview of the challenges that were faced in this high-profile recruitment campaign and the reasons why a targeted headhunt approach from a specialist treasury consultancy was the only solution for the campaign.
Search Part 1 – The Problem
The initial hiring strategy adopted was the same as that for any new vacancy in the business – advertise on the website, advertise internally and advertise on LinkedIn. In many cases this tried and tested approach does generate the desired results. But the era of simply posting a job advert and waiting for the right candidate to apply is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Recruitment has changed. The way candidates look for jobs has changed and consequently, the need to adopt more targeted and creative approaches to recruitment has become more vital than ever.
For the team at our client, this realisation became clear a few weeks after the advertising campaign was launched. Initial response rates were high, which on the face of it seemed extremely positive. The market was responding well to the opportunity, and key players in the industry were openly expressing their interest in the role. But the numbers just kept coming and after only 8 weeks, the team had received in excess of 250 applicants. That is 250 people who need reviewing and responding to. That is on average one person, working fulltime, for 3 whole weeks, just on this one campaign. The real kicker came however when after identifying a handful of potential candidates and scheduling a series of interviews, the final shortlist was zero. None of the candidates were right for the role.
Search Part 2 – The Solution
After a total of 12 weeks and many hours of work, the team were back to square one and the situation was at crisis point. They knew they could not continue with the same high-risk approach using the advertising campaign and hoping for the best. They had to do something different to get the search back on track. Although The Treasury Recruitment Company had not worked with this particular client previously, the Group Treasurer had heard positive things about us through our mutual connections at the Neu Group. He had also seen a selection of our weekly Treasury Career Corner podcasts and liked the feel of our brand and what we had to offer. So, the decision was made to reach out to us to see how we might be able to help.
We were delighted of course to be approached and to hear about this fantastic opportunity. But before getting too excited we needed to find out more. We needed to be confident this would be an opportunity that we could fill. So, after a very open and detailed conversation with the Global Treasurer and the internal recruitment team we were able to present our proposed solution.
Our immediate response was that we needed to take control of the situation and to achieve this, we would need 100% commitment from them as their exclusive partners. We would become an extension of their internal recruitment team and there could be no aspects of the search that we were not involved in. This was a very niche search, focusing on a specific area within treasury and as such, only a handful of individuals would potentially be right for the role. As a result, this would require a very targeted and streamlined search and a multiple agency approach or a disjointed strategy simply would not work.
The team were in total agreement with this and with immediate effect advised us of all the applicants who had already been reviewed and subsequently rejected from the process. This was an essential step to ensuring firstly that we would not waste time reaching out to the same people who had already been considered and secondly, it enabled us to continue to build a deep understanding of exactly who would be ‘right’ for the role.
The next step was for the team to agree that any further direct applications would be sent to us to be reviewed alongside our candidate shortlist. This would ensure a centralised approach and that all applicants were treated equally. Again, their team were very happy with this requirement.
So, with everything now in place and under control, we were able to get started with our targeted search campaign. As a specialist consultancy only operating in the corporate treasury space, we were immediately able to identify a pipeline of potential candidates who fitted the brief and formed our initial long list. Then, after a series of in-depth interviews to further assess suitability and fit, a promising shortlist of four strong candidates was produced and subsequently presented to the team.
One candidate stood out to us, his background was ideal for the position and matched the brief perfectly. He also demonstrated characteristics and traits that truly mirrored the brand’s values and ethos, again confirming his suitability for the role. The team were excited by his profile and acted quickly to commence interview proceedings. He excelled at every stage and after just three weeks was formerly offered the role which he gladly accepted. Three weeks later, he joined the team and is absolutely loving his new role.
Although there has been a very positive outcome with this campaign and our client secured a fantastic new member to the team, it was unquestionably a tough, time-consuming and costly process to get there. In many cases, advertising a vacancy on your website and other job boards can prove successful however this is not always the case. It is critical to consider all options at the start of a search as adopting the wrong hiring strategy can have a real detrimental impact on the business.
Here are some tips on why working with a specialist consultancy is the best hiring strategy;
- Urgent role where speed to hire is important – Working with a specialist consultancy means that project timelines can be pre-agreed from the start. Opting to advertise a role where there is no control over who will be applying and when is a very high-risk approach when time is of the essence. Specialist consultancies will also have an instant network of candidates to tap into and approach.
- Limited internal resources to manage high-volume advert responses – Candidate engagement and candidate experience are both critical to ensuring not only that you deliver a successful recruitment campaign but that there is a positive perception of the business overall. If you do not have the resources to manage the process effectively and efficiently, do not attempt to go it alone.
- Limited internal sector expertise – The very nature of internal recruitment teams means that they are strong generalist recruiters. They may specialise in a certain broad business function e.g. finance but it will be unlikely they are true experts in one given field e.g. treasury. This can present some challenges as often being able to identify and match candidates within a specific niche area requires years of practice. Understanding where to find these types of candidates, what good looks like, what the ‘pull factors’ will be for them and how to manage them through a hiring process. This is a skill and to be done right, really requires specialist expertise.
- Senior level role where the pool of candidates is naturally more limited – Opting for a multiple agency approach here can lead to huge problems and can have a very negative effect on candidate perception. Equally opting for an advertising search methodology will only focus on those candidates that are actively seeking a new position as opposed to the passive market where your ‘winning’ candidate may be sitting and as illustrated in this case the successful candidate wasn’t actively seeking a role but he was interested when we approached him about the position itself!
- Confidential position where company names cannot be revealed – This type of role needs to be handled very discretely and will often require the use of Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs). A specialist consultancy is really the only answer in this scenario.
- Niche or specialist position where there will only be a handful of candidates with the required experience – This requires a very targeted search generally focusing on the passive candidate market.
- Position based in a tricky/rural location where there will be a limited pool of candidates – The focus here will be on appealing to candidates that are open to relocation which is often not possible to identify through an advert.
If you would like further advice on the best recruitment strategy for your campaign or would like to find out more about the services we can provide, please call me I would love to help.