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Getting the Talent Your Organization Needs

Three Step Process

Acquiring the talent your organization needs is a three phase process requiring rigorous and focused attention. Many Councils and Executives who are highly vested in making sure their next hire is the “right” hire are also conflicted with daily political or operational issues which distract them from the high priority project of hiring their next CAO or General Manager. As a result, their process tends to be a start and stop activity which soon results in the best candidates losing interest or going to other opportunities.

The talent acquisition process consists of; Pre-recruitment activities; active recruiting; and selection activities. Each requires a set of skills and knowledge to be effectively applied. Your executive search consultant should be able to help guide you through each of these components in a manner that saves you time and minimizes the chance of missing key information and steps. In most cases they will carry out a large part of the activities associated with each phase. This ensures that your project is receiving the priority attention and consistent focus required to keep it on track.


Preparing to recruit is a critical part of the overall hiring process and must be done with care and consideration for the needs of the organization and for the stakeholders who will be working with the selected individual on a daily basis.

One key consideration is that the specific skills, knowledge and competencies needed in the new hire may need to be slightly different or a lot different than the prior incumbent. Recognizing this and articulating the differences and defining the competencies needed is essential. Your executive search consultant will utilize the appropriate tools and skilled questioning techniques to quickly help you define the role.. Where the Council makes up the group of stakeholders, all Council members should be in agreement on the knowledge, background, skills and competencies essential for success in the position.

Another key element for the pre-recruitment stage is defining what the performance expectations are for the first twelve months in the role.. These may consist of organizational or community projects (such as a new recreation centre or a new records management system), community consultations, strategic plans, expropriation issues or labour contract negotiations.

You will also want to highlight what makes this opportunity and your community attractive to the right person. Be aware of what could be detractors and don’t diminish or hide these factors. What might be a turnoff to one person, may be a challenge to another and that’s the kind of person you will want to attract.

The end product of this stage is an updated position description and an Opportunity Profile suitable for marketing your opportunity to attract prospective candidates.

Active Recruitment

Active recruitment is where your organizational need goes live and is now in the eye of the public. In the case of a confidential search, your organization should not be named in the recruitment and marketing documents. In this case, outsourcing this to an executive search firm is a very good strategy.

Today’s recruitment resources of online posting boards and public resume databases level the playing field for large or small organizations and for those in remote, rural or urban areas. But knowing what posting boards to use for the best results, and mining the resume databases are skills and knowledge your executive search firm will have. As well, a search firm with an established reputation will be in a place where prospective candidates can go confidentially to explore the suitability of a new opportunity without tipping their hand too early in the process.
Direct sourcing is a skill unique to search firms and must be handled with confidentiality and discretion. Your executive search consultant (especially if they specialize in your industry) will have an extensive contact list and will be knowledgeable about who might be interested or who might be a good source of referrals. They will have spent many hours carefully nurturing and establishing these contacts
Managing and handling resumes and candidate inquiries in a timely and confidential manner is also critical to the hiring process.


The third phase of hiring for a key position is the selection phase. This phase includes a number of activities including: resume acquisition and screening, telephone screening, preliminary interview screening, and preparation of a long list of candidates. A long list of candidates typically includes about eight to twelve candidates with consultant notes on each candidate and may also include the candidates resume. The long list is typically reviewed with the hiring authority (either the Council, and search committee or the executive in charge)

The next step is culling the long list to a short list. This is done by conducting more in-depth interviews by the consultant and may include the use of psychometric assessments to better understand and gain further insight about the candidate.

The goal is to bring the short list to a final few (3-5 candidates) to be interviewed by the Council or hiring executive.

Your executive search consultant should help prepare the Council or executive to conduct the selection interviews. This will include preparing an “Interview Guide” and process as well as any logistical arrangements that are required.

Once a preferred candidate is decided upon, your search consultant will be ready to help you with the final activities. Industrial psychological/psychometric assessments’ are increasingly used to address any final concerns. As well, reference checks and background/police checks and if appropriate credit checks, and vulnerable persons checks are done.

Making the offer and getting acceptance is a challenging part of the process. Your search consultant can help you with any negotiation and with creative suggestions and ideas. Once the “deal” is complete you can then move to firming it up with an employment contract.
You will note that while the active recruiting phase can make great use of today’s technologies, both phase one (preparing to recruit) and phase three (selection) require high “touch” and skillful handling to keep the process moving and finalizing the project.