While every executive and board search is unique, “speed to close” is still one of the primary factors that hiring managers and companies are focused on when evaluating the success of the process. On average, most executive-level searches take three to five months to thoroughly and diligently identify, vet, reference, and close a candidate.

There are several considerations that hiring managers and HR leaders should be aware of that can impact an efficient search:

1. Lack of urgency to make a decision.

This is potentially the biggest obstacle to closing a search in a timely manner. If there is not an immediate need to fill a role, or the company or hiring manager is distracted by other business issues, a search is destined to drag on. If not pressed for a hire, a company will likely want to see countless additional candidates on an almost-constant basis. This leads to second guessing while searching for the perfect candidate.

At the start of the process, a clear timeline should be established and agreed to by all parties and regularly discussed, so that both the company and the search partner are keeping up with deliverables and expectations. In today’s economy, top candidates are being recruited for many roles with competing offers, so indecision can lead to a loss of quality talent.

2. Lack of communication.

The search process naturally involves constant contact, numerous steps, and potentially multiple stakeholders. Having one individual play the role of point person (for instance, the hiring manager or HR) is key. This person should be empowered to make decisions and solicit feedback from stakeholders throughout the organization. There will be phone calls, meetings, and documentation – all of which require proactive discussion. Open communication and timely feedback should be a high priority throughout the search process and will directly impact the speed of a search. This also allows for candidates to stay active in the process, as they know where things stand and what’s expected going forward. Everyone involved should understand the timeline, the current phase, any next steps, and each person’s role and responsibility in moving things forward.

To execute a timely and successful search process, an organization needs focus, direction, and solid communication to find and close the right candidate – and this needs to be in place from the very beginning.

3. The candidate’s eagerness to make a move.

Not all candidates are the same in their interest level or desire for a role. It’s important to understand very early in the process what pushes (dissatisfiers) and pulls (why interested) a candidate might have. Then, through each stage of interviews, these pushes and pulls might change or evolve and need to be addressed. When deciding to make an offer, it’s important that the candidate feels strongly about the company and hiring manager and is ready for an offer. If not, it will likely lead to a prolonged offer process and can negatively impact back-up candidates who are active and engaged.

Ultimately, the speed of the search can be slowed by any one of these things individually, but to have a truly successful search, you need all of these considerations to be addressed and, of course, great candidates to choose from! Partnering with an executive and board search firm as early in the process as possible can help to mitigate these issues and deliver a faster search process. Howard Fischer Associates, with more than 35 years of finetuning our process and search strategy, can help ensure that your search will be executed as efficiently as possible, providing you with candidates who will bring immediate and long-term value to your company.

To learn more about how you can keep your search on track and find the highest quality candidates, reach out to Eric at 215.587.2750 or eric.ferst@hfischer.com.

Eric Ferst, Senior Principal