Keeping a search on track

We like to think that we have the client’s best interests at heart in every assignment we accept. Clients need to hire the right candidate; our job is to help guide them towards that outcome. Our search process is proven, honed and and highly effective. Why is it still a challenge? In today’s blog I will address one reason–in subsequent blogs I will address others:

“Spec Creep”—this happens when a client keeps changing what he or she thinks is necessary/acceptable in the way of required candidate experience. Compare this to client who keeps changing the architectural blueprint while the project is underway. A certain amount of give and take is normal but both the client and the search consultant know when the changes become excessive since none of the candidates meet muster despite their alignment with the position spec.

Our solution is to confront the problem directly and forcefully as soon as we see it happening. A client meeting is called and there is a review of the candidate inventory against the existing spec. If need be the spec gets revised. We believe in our clients and their need to hire the right candidate. We always work through the issues with the client and would never quit on them–unless we determine that their reason for rejection of qualified candidates is unlawful or discriminatory. We might ask for additional compensation though if the changes to the spec are so significant as to require retooling of the marketing/advertising program as well. Why does this happen? Clients are under pressure to complete many projects simultaneously. They are busy and often they fail to “measure twice” before they start, even when the consulting firm is taking them through a very deliberate spec development process. We always strive spend enough time with spec development before we launch the search because we want to spec to be “right” before we commence. So, when we see our client consistently rejecting candidates who clearly meet the stated spec —we call a “time out” and do a complete review of what is going on. This is the right thing to do because it protects everyone involved with the search—-the client, the candidates and of course our firm. Time is money for everyone and wasted time is just that—a waste. So a direct response to a client who is engaging in “SPEC Creep” is always the best course of action.

I hope this short piece proves helpful to you if you are a professional search consultant or a client currently engaged, about to engage, in a search assignment utilizing the assistance of a professional search consultant.

Best regards,

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About Keith Kulper

Keith D. Kulper is the president and founder of KULPER & COMPANY, LLC an executive search consulting firm working in the area of senior level leadership for academia and corporate innovation. We are strong advocates of nurturing the linkage between academic investigation/research and corporate innovation/full commercialization of new product solutions. We specialize in attracting proven leaders who can effectively drive transformational change. The firm operates an Advisory Board that meets annually to bring together leaders from academia and corporate innovation to help drive continuous improvement of our professional practice. We are also an investor in early stage companies. We take pride in supporting the growth and development of business and engineering schools at leading universities throughout the United States.

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