27 Mar 2020
I have an open search, and we're very close to making an offer? What should we be considering?
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Here's how some organizations are managing the executive search process during the Coronavirus pandemic.
This is truly an unprecedented time for all organizations – including our own. Few leaders have ever dealt with this much ambiguity and are looking for help figuring out how to continue moving forward. We’ve received lots of questions from clients and candidates looking for support navigating late stage searches. We asked a few of our recruiters to share what they’re hearing and how they’re advising clients during this period.
Hiring Critical Roles
Most organizations that we’re working with are beginning to categorize their talent needs into critical roles and growth roles. For critical roles, we are seeing our clients push full steam ahead to attract and onboard new talent. This means moving forward with video interviews, virtual roundtables and psychometric assessments to find the right executives.
“Organizations that are hiring for essential roles like finance, risk, emergency management, supply chain and e-commerce are looking to move forward quickly,” says Nathalie Francisci, Montreal-based partner specializing in board recruitment and a regional diversity leader. “Virtual meetings and interviews are functioning extremely well, and we’re working with clients to ensure that candidate assessments are thorough and seamless, even when they’re not in-person.”
We’re also working with our clients to help them build the right packages to provide peace of mind for new recruits. Signing bonuses and extended severance packages are just two ways to help provide some assurance to new executives, and organizations are doing a great job of being transparent and flexible during these trying times.
Leaving at a Time of Crisis
“Some candidates are feeling uneasy about leaving their current roles and organizations during this turbulence,” says senior consultant Joanne McMullin. “While they’re excited to pursue a new opportunity, there’s a lot of guilt around leaving an employer and team in dire need of support.”
In these cases, we’re working with some clients to find ways to push out start dates, “sometimes even with indeterminate start dates,” says Nathalie. “They’re still signing contracts so that they can begin the onboarding process but are putting off official start dates so that they can continue providing support to their old team until a suitable replacement is found.”
What About Growth Roles?
Some organizations are pressing the pause button on non-critical roles, while others are taking time to re-evaluate positions to ensure that they’re hiring for the right skills and future demands. “In some cases, where clients were hiring for a new role within their organization, we’ve been able to share what we’re hearing in the marketplace and help them gauge whether it’s still the right direction,” say Trevor Smith, a partner in Odgers Berndtson’s Industrial Practice. “Organizations are looking at this as a time to retool, not recess,” says Joanne. “Every catastrophe also presents opportunities, so organizations need to start thinking about the talent they’ll need later on in this journey.”
Attracting the Right Candidates
Another question we’re getting from clients is whether candidates are even interested in speaking with recruiters right now. So far, we’re seeing that most people are still interested in talking and learning more about openings. One benefit of this new virtual reality is the increase in agility. Trevor shares, “we’re all less confined by typical 9-to-5 office hours and trying to accommodate in-person interviews, so finding a time to talk has never been easier. We’re actually seeing an uptick in candidates willing to speak with us. Maybe it’s anxiety, maybe it’s more time availability, but we’re definitely still having fruitful conversations with amazing executive candidates.”