If you are recruiting for a role which you yourself have performed it can be very difficult to remain objective. You were probably good in that role. After all you have since been promoted into a role where you have to recruit it. This is all very logical, but can lead to missing out on some good candidates.
I once met with a Finance Director who was looking to recruit a Senior Finance Manager. This individual was to oversee much of the operational finances of the business, a role that the Finance Director had undertaken 10 years previous. The Finance Director was a Big 4 trained Associate Chartered Accountant (ACA) with an excellent grounding in technical accounting, who had progressed to be a Financial Controller via various operational finance roles. His commerciality had come through 15+ years spent in the industry. He was convinced he needed an ACA trained accountant for the role he was recruiting.
When challenged as to why a CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) or ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) couldn’t do the role he quoted things such as “financial rigour” and “solid background”. When he relented and allowed me to show him some CVs of candidates who had qualified whilst working in FTSE 100 companies, who had worked in both Management and Financial accounts, he relented and agreed to interview 4 candidates – only two of whom were Big 4 ACAs.
Although he now worked in Manufacturing he still ended up recruiting a Manager from one of the Big 4 to work in an operational finance role. Was it coincidence that the Manager was from the same firm he’d trained with? He rejected a lady who was ACCA trained from a Big 4 who had 5 years experience as a Finance Manager within Industry and someone else who was CIMA qualified, who had worked in Manufacturing since leaving University.
Did he make the right decision or was he simply playing it safe and recruiting in his own image? The fact that he had made the journey successfully wasn’t going to guarantee that his new Senior Finance Manager would.
Years later this particular Finance Director is now a Managing Director and with the benefit of LinkedIn I have been able to see what the other three candidates are now doing. All were good candidates and all of them have had successful careers to date. One moved into Operations and the other two are now Finance Directors in their own rights. How long did the new recruit last in that first role in industry? Not as long as his new boss would have hoped!
Playing it safe?
If you are recruiting for a role which you yourself have performed or you have recruited for before it can be very difficult to be open to new ideas. You were probably good in that role, after all you have since been promoted. Likewise you’ve recruited others who have succeeded in this role. This is all very logical, but you might be missing out on good candidates.
Candidates from different backgrounds bring new ideas and different skills. Can you allow for someone to grow into the role?
Recruitment is essentially sales, with a very diverse product portfolio that has a mind of its own. Can an ex-recruiter sell widgets? Those who have been in the Forces develop a wide range of skills which are tremendously useful in civilian life, over and above the vocational skills based on which area they serve in. Can an ex-Army officer organise the logistics and teams needed to run a hotel?
I know many people who have successfully transferred their skills into a new area, but I know many more who haven’t been given that opportunity. Next time you are recruiting it might be worth looking through a few of those ‘left field CVs’ to see if any of them could bring some new ways of thinking and working to your organisation rather than simply recruiting what you know.