When we collect data on prospective leaders for our clients, one of the most important data points we look for is the word “No.” By that, we do not mean bad candidates. Quite the contrary: many of the people we look at are excellent leaders.

Our process begins with an engagement letter and a very detailed recruitment profile with the client. We gather all of the pertinent information before the search kickoff. This is where we drill down to uncover what our clients really want and need in a candidate.

Then, using that data, we research the market. This entails targeting a list of potential companies and candidates – including ones who, for whatever reason, may be off-limits per the client. Those would be a definite “No.”

During this time, we make discreet inquiries, as well as strategic reference checks. We are assessing interest level and a motivation to make a move and  also for personal and professional fit.

For example, we may find a great candidate but his youngest child is about to start his/her senior year of high school. As a result  his family might be reluctant to  relocate right away.  Another example would be a great candidate who may be ready to advance,  however she  stays in her current company for eight more months because she is due a large bonus.  Additionally we review and consider a candidate’s  professional and personal goals and priorities. Each is equally important. Our goal is to collect as many data points as necessary to make an informed yes or no decision.

The only way to  gather these data points is to talk to people. We start by approaching candidates directly, either by email, phone, video conferences or in-person meetings. We may follow up with them several times with additional inquiries.

As early and as often as possible, we ask ourselves two basic questions: first, “At this particular stage in the search, do we have enough information to make an informed decision.”  If the answer is “No”, we continue to gather data.  If the answer is “Yes”, we ask the obvious question, “Do we want to move this to the next step?”  It is extremely important that we remind both our candidate and our client that “No” is always an appropriate answer. We want to find the “No” as quickly as possible so that we can stop the physical and emotional energy on both sides and concentrate that energy on the eventual candidate of choice.  Once we have about 3-5 “Yes” candidates, we present them to our client. The time it takes to get to this point could be a month or two. The next two to three months will be critical as the client search team conducts face to face interviews, references are checked and offers negotiated. During this time we go to extra lengths in transparency and communication to manage the expectations of both candidate and client.

The final and most important data point of all comes after an offer is extended and the candidate accepts…. Our final “Yes.”

We help you make informed decisions. Our rigorous executive search process ensures you see the best candidates to fill your critical leadership goals. The key is we cannot get to the ultimate “Yes” until we have heard a lot of “Nos.”

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