The hardest search we’ve done at Recruiting Bandwidth was for a CMO with marketing automation experience. This wasn’t just any CMO, it had be someone that worked at a startup marketing automation tech company and the CMO had to have helped scale it to success. We did manage to get the search done, but it took 10 months, was 4 times our average cost per hire, and caused countless days of frustration for my team and my customer. If you can learn from my experience, read the following about some of the reasons a search is hard, and how to go about solving each step to make things easier. The reasons a search may be hard can be complicated and varied. We’ll take each reason
one by one so we can focus on a solutions-oriented approach.

The most common reason a search is difficult is the interview team is not on the same page about the role. There is an undercurrent of disagreement on what the person will do, what is needed and what is required. The good news about this challenge is that it’s fairly easy to spot. These will be the candidate interviews where you get several “Yes!” hires and along with that an equal number of strong “No!” hire recommendations. The best thing to do is get the team together and talk through this in detail, listening for the patterns where everyone agrees. You can then adjust the screening process to align towards agreement on the need.

A second challenge is when the company has either hired or met 1 or 2 truly amazing people and they have falsely assumed this is a skill set that can be found again. People being as unique as they are, can’t be clones, particularly if it’s someone that just happened to learn X at the same time as Y and went to the CEO’s favorite college. Very difficult to find people are often referred to as purple squirrels or unicorns. My friend, Shannon Anderson, is passionate about this subject and begins to talk about how to deal with the purple squirrel syndrome in her post. With regards to this issue the trick is to research ahead of time, based on the job requirements, so you know whether you can even find more than a handful of people that meet the job spec. In the case of my CMO search, there were only 10 people in the world who met the qualifications exactly. There were too “few of a kind” as Shannon would say to get the search done quickly or with ease.

There are countless other issues such as the company can’t afford the pay a person they need requires or they are sure their startup can attract the type of top engineers that only Google can, but they can’t…

Sometimes the challenges add up and it’s all of the above issues going on at the same time. But don’t despair! Take a data-driven approach at each stage of the process so you can communicate with facts, not emotions, and help your hiring team be aware of what you’re seeing. The biggest problem recruiters have is being an order-taker and, quite literally, just beating their heads against the wall trying to get the customer what they want and need. The problem is this approach is extremely expensive, time- consuming and frustrating. Research, pay attention and intervene when you see you’ve got a purple squirrel hunt on your task list.


-Jennie Ellis
Founder and Chief Talent Officer

Jennie Ellis

Posted by Jennie Ellis

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