When is a search complete? For me, it’s not over until – well – never.
Something that my clients often ask me about (and deeply appreciate) is my extended engagement with a candidate well beyond their hire date. Some call it “onboarding, ” I call it quality executive search in action. In today’s blog post I simply want to pull back the curtain a bit and explain what I do.
First, I cannot really comment on what other recruiters typically do regarding onboarding, but what I frequently hear from candidates is that many recruiters tend to go AWOL after the search is over. To me, this isn’t acceptable. Once a candidate accepts an offer from my client, their first day of employment is typically three, four, or even five weeks away. Much has to happen in this timeframe – most of which can be very stressful. Here are just a few of the stressors impacting the candidate during this time:
- Resigning from their present position
- Preparing to relocate their family
- Researching temporary housing
- Buying or selling a house
- Packing up the household goods
- Announcing the relocation to family and friends
- Assisting children in coming to terms with moving, leaving friends/school, etc.
It’s a lot to process and can be extremely taxing, even if the candidate has gone through the process before.
My role during this transition time is to make sure they know that I am available to talk with them about each and every issue that may be important to them. I make sure they know I am available, but still give them as much “space ” as they need. Some candidates really don’t need much from me, but they all like to know that I am available in case they do.
A week or so after they begin work, I always contact them just to see how things are going coming out of the gate with their new job. Each person is a bit different in terms of how frequently I follow up with him or her; it’s kind of a gut feel in terms of timing. I check in with some individuals every month or so and others I give a few months and then check in.
Throughout this time, I’m also in close contact with the hiring executive at my client’s office. I let them know that I am in close contact with the newly hired candidate and I also let the candidate know that I am talking from time to time with my client (their new boss). Each knows they can trust me to talk confidentially, but they also know that I can be a good buffer/intermediary to broach topics that can help each party. There are many “little thing – a newly hired person experiences that can be easily remedied as long as their boss is in the know (relocation and housing issues, family adaptation, etc.). Oftentimes the candidate has not told anyone about these challenges so nothing can be fixed. When I mention this to my client, they may talk with the key human resources person at the company and make sure things are moved along for the candidate or provide aid where needed. Quite often it’s the “little thing – that make a huge difference in a new career and help create a positive transition experience for the candidate’s entire family.
Many individuals I speak with ask how long I continue this partnership with a new hire. The truth is that I never really stop. In my eyes, I’ve just helped someone move to another level in his or her career and we’ve established a new and mutually beneficial relationship. I consider this relationship very important and I have no idea what the future may bring with this person. They could be a “rock star ” candidate who moves up quickly in their organization and needs to augment their own management team – and would need to hire me to do those searches. Another future scenario is that the company could get bought out by a private equity firm and the individual cashes out, making them a “free agent ” and a person I could consider a candidate again (PS: I would never solicit a candidate I placed at a client company).
My clients are extremely appreciative of my continued communication with them and the candidate. My expectations (and hopes) are that clients recognize the great work I did, not only placing a great candidate, but also in the realization that the overall search process was of high quality and I was in control of the search from beginning to end.
This is how I do onboarding.