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The Right Way for Employers to Treat Executive-Level Candidates

by Stacy Pursell, CPC, CERS

The VET Recruiter®

I’m going to start this article with a bold and true statement: Some Animal Health and Veterinary organizations are losing executive-level candidates because they’re not treating them the right way during the interviewing and hiring process.

I can make this statement with 100% confidence because I’ve seen it happen first-hand. As an Animal Health recruiter and Veterinary recruiter, I specialize in representing executive-level candidates and presenting those candidates to my clients. I’ve built relationships with many of these candidates over the course of many years. In fact, I’ve placed many of them more than once and some of them more than twice. They know me and trust me, and they’re not afraid to tell me if they’ve had a lackluster experience with an employer.

As I’m apt to do, I have a couple of case studies that I’d like to share. These case studies illustrate how important it is to treat executive-level candidates the right way and what happens when you don’t treat them in that manner. (Note that there is a short Q&A session following each of the case studies, and I’ve taken the liberty of both asking and answering the questions.)

Case Study #1

An employer wants to interview an executive for a C-level position with its organization. However, the employer decides to fly the candidate in and out of town on the same day. In this fashion, the organization does not have to pay for hotel accommodations for the candidate. Not only that, but the employer also scheduled tight connection flights for the candidate, increasing the chances that the candidate might miss one of the connecting flights.

Question: What impression do you think the candidate had of the organization, even before the interview started?

Answer: For one thing, the candidate is going to wonder if the organization is experiencing cash flow problems, since it opted to make them fly in and out on the same day instead of booking a hotel room. And if it isn’t a cash flow problem, then the alternative is even less attractive: the organization is skimping simply because it values saving a buck over providing a premium candidate experience. At some point, the candidate has to ask themselves, “If this is how the organization treats me as a candidate, then how would it treat me if I become an employee?”

Case Study #2

An employer wants to hire an executive-level candidate for a position with its organization. However, the employer has an HR representative screening candidates for the position. Unfortunately, the HR rep is not only “grilling” the candidates during a grueling screening process, but they’re also not answering any of the candidates’ questions about the job or opportunity.

Question: What impression do you think these candidates had of the organization, even before they had a chance to interview?

Answer: These executive-level candidates were not looking for a new job in the first place. They were contacted about an employment opportunity, and they made the decision to pursue it. Basically, they were looking for reasons to stay in the hiring process. However, the HR rep was giving these candidates plenty of reasons to NOT stay in the process. They did not enter the hiring process so they could be “grilled.” They entered it so they could be convinced that this opportunity was the next best step in their career.

So the impression that these candidates had of the organization was that it had no idea how to attract and recruit top talent. In other words, it’s “out of touch” in terms of hiring in the modern employment marketplace. That’s exactly the opposite of how employers want to brand themselves.

So what is the right way to treat executive-level candidates? Below is an abbreviated blueprint for Animal Health and Veterinary employers:

  1. Understand that these to A level candidates are not actively looking for a new position, and as a result, they have the leverage. The organization has just as much to prove to the candidates as the candidates have to prove to the organization. The possibility exists that you have more to prove, depending upon the availability of top candidates for the position you’re seeking to fill.
  2. “Sell” both the opportunity and the organization, repeatedly emphasizing what’s in it for them.
  3. Communicate well and communicate often during the hiring process, letting the candidates know where they stand in the process and what the next steps are.
  4. Respect both the candidates’ time and the confidentiality of their search. (It may be a passive job search, but these candidates are still conducting it in a confidential fashion.)
  5. Do not try to “cut corners” or “skimp” on accommodations. If you want candidates to see you as a first-class organization, then you have to brand yourself in a first-class way.
  6. Make a compelling offer of employment to your top choice and do not attempt to low-ball the candidate. You’re not shopping for electronics. You’re hiring an executive-level candidate for a critical position within your organization, one that likely has a tremendous impact on the bottom line.

If you need assistance hiring executive-level Animal Health or Veterinary candidates, The VET Recruiter can help. We have more than 20 years of experience helping employers identify, attract, recruit, and hire the best candidates in the marketplace and we can do the same for you.

Do NOT leave your recruiting and hiring process to chance. Instead, do what it takes to hire the people you want to hire for your most important, high-level positions.

We help support careers in one of two ways: 1. By helping Animal Health and Veterinary professionals to find the right opportunity when the time is right, and 2. By helping to recruit top talent for the critical needs of Animal Health and Veterinary organizations. If this is something that you would like to explore further, please send an email to stacy@thevetrecruiter.com.

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