Skip to main content

You have made the decision to hire a new person into your business. You know – more or less – what you’d like that person to do, but have you thought about what challenges might present themselves during the hiring process and why?

Your Talent Acquisition approach should meet the needs of your business and the role you seek to fill. To force-fit a single hiring approach to all hiring needs simply because it is what you have always used before and because it has been ‘good enough’ may not get you to where you need to be.

To select the right Talent Acquisition approach when hiring, there are 10 key things to think about first:

1. Is this a strategic hire or an operationally critical hire?

The more strategically critical the role, the more meticulous and discrete the recruitment process should be. The messaging about why the role is open must be carefully delivered to the most appropriate target audience. Executive Search is the best option for strategic hires. Operationally critical roles are generally best served through Specialist Recruitment services unless at an Executive level.

2. Is the hire a replacement to expand an existing team or an entirely new position?

It is important that your target candidate audience understands why you are hiring, and also how and why they might become a valuable part of your team.  A person who loves setting things up from scratch is not often the same person as the one who thrives on getting stuck in and doing the work.  Different candidate audiences may need to be reached through different talent acquisition strategies.  New roles may well be best approached using non-traditional approaches to recruitment. Your approach to recruitment will differ depending on the level of the role and whether the role is strategically or operationally focused. Specialist Recruitment services are generally preferable for replacement or expansion .

3. What stage of the corporate life cycle is your business in?

Life cycle and culture play a bigger part in recruitment than many businesses realise. Companies in the early stage of their life cycle – if well known – may attract attention from excellent candidates if the founders are well known and highly regarded. A Specialist Recruitment service will serve such a business well. Should the company and founders not be known to the market or have the reputation of being ‘difficult’, a great deal more persuasion will be required to attract the right people, in which case an Executive Search approach would make more sense.  Multiple nuances exist that will impact your talent acquisition approach.

4. What is the culture that underpins your organisation as it is now?

The reputation of your company’s culture amongst your target candidate group will inform or perhaps even dictate your selection of a Talent Acquisition service.  Sometimes the perception of culture as held by current employees may not match the perception of people externally. Should this prove to be the case, you should re-think your hiring approach.  To entice candidates to your business, especially in a highly competitive market like South Africa, you need to ensure that your employer value proposition is clearly and effectively communicated during a hiring phase.  Think about what drew you to the business – did you have any doubts or concerns that were subsequently allayed?  How might ‘outsiders’ perceive your business?

Depending on the challenges you face around culture, Executive Search may best serve your needs to allay prospective negative perceptions or to highlight potential that is not yet in the public domain.

5. What opportunities are there for growth or innovation in your business?

As it turns out, size might matter after all.  Candidates in the earlier stages of their careers are often attracted to larger companies that offer them the (perceived) potential to explore diverse options for professional development. In contrast, people who are more established in their careers tend to be more likely to take on smaller and more challenging professional environments where they will be able to make a significant personal mark. If your hiring need is at odds with these inclinations, you may need to compare the benefits of a Specialist Recruitment vs an Executive Search process to select the one that would be best for you. Read more on the different recruitment options here.

6. How is your business really perceived in the market?

Remarkably, many businesses are surprised to learn from their Talent Acquisition partner that they have a less-than-rosy reputation in the market amongst the types of people they hope to attract. Justified or not, this will impact their ability to attract these people to the business.  Has your business faced any public reputational challenges?

Be honest!

When you partner with a trusted Talent Acquisition service provider, you will benefit from frank and considered target market feedback. Executive Search professionals are best placed to provide the most in-depth feedback.

7. How senior is the role, and how might it evolve?

Specialist Recruitment services are best suited to junior to mid-level roles that are likely to evolve as they are generally filled by people still growing into their full professional selves. These candidates will be excited by the prospect of choice once they have established themselves in the role.  While Executive Search services are most typically used for executive level roles, it can also be successfully used to source very scarce skills or to build capacity in a sector for the first time.

8. How prevalent locally are the skills or experience you are looking for?

Too often, especially for entry-level and junior roles, hiring managers make the mistake of equating high levels of unemployment with the ready availability of skills.  This is not the case. Qualified people with suitable experience are highly in demand, and businesses must demonstrate employer value to prospective employees. This is particularly important in a world where remote working is a real possibility, and employers are now competing for talent on a global stage, especially for more experienced candidates.

Don’t make the mistake of underestimating the effect of foreign-based businesses hiring remote workers in your geography, and paying them over the odds too.  When you are looking for scarce and highly in-demand skills, Executive Search services may be your best option, even if the role is not at an executive or managerial level.

9. Do you have a true understanding of the cost of the skills or experience you need?

Many clients reference broad-based salary surveys when looking to hire. Whilst useful as an entry point, the market will ultimately determine the cost of hiring.  For example, one CA(SA) with three years post-qualifying experience is not the same as another. Person A might have decided to stay in Audit, Person B might be a TOPP CA(SA) who is a specialist in FPA in a banking context, and Person C might have followed a path to investments or venture capital. Their earnings structures will have diverged – perhaps significantly.  Generic salary surveys are seldom truly helpful when budgeting for a new position as they lack data points around where experience has been gained, exposure to specific types of industries, and more, all of which you may stipulate for the candidates you seek.  This will impact cost and affordability.

As individuals mature professionally, their remuneration structures are likely to become increasingly complex. Budgeting only for a guaranteed cost-to-company may leave you unable to afford the people your business truly needs.  Failing to factor in the additional value of specific types of experience will almost certainly leave you short.

10. How do your competitors impact your ability to attract Talent?

If a competitor is known for innovation, but you have a great idea up your sleeve, candidates may be cautious or even sceptical about your aspirations. Similarly, if you have recently been perceived to be losing market share, it might be challenging to persuade the right people to engage with you as a prospective

The more prominent your competitors are, the more likely it is that you should consider an Executive Search methodology.

All of these considerations, in a South African context, are made more challenging when also needing to consider broad economic and political factors, BEE obligations, business confidence levels, and more. Some of these questions you may be able to answer yourself, but others may require input from a Human Capital advisor.  Your choice of a Talent Acquisition service will allow you to gain valuable insights into the talent market you hope to access. It will also send a message to prospective employees about how you think about talent and the role of human capital in your business.

In summary, Executive Search services are best suited to strategic, executive-level roles, where the value of the opportunity is complex, your business may be facing some very particular strategic challenges, and discretion is vital. Specialist , or contingency recruitment, is used when you are looking to fill traditional, well-understood operational roles quickly.

Your Talent Acquisition options don’t end with Executive Search or Specialist Recruitment. Managed Recruitment Services remove the burden of recruitment by providing an exclusive and embedded recruitment team for your business. Contractors serve specific roles in businesses for a defined limited period, usually related to project execution and delivery. Think deeply about the needs and challenges of your business, and the right Takent Acquisition approach will become obvious.

There is no single way of doing things, so understanding the nuances around hiring is key. Partnering with a trusted Talent Advisor will set you and your business up for successful hiring outcomes.