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Staffing Advisors Blog

A Modern Approach to Diversity Recruiting

Posted by Bob Corlett on May 20, 2020

Most of our clients effectively made the transition to remote work, but that transition revealed a few skill gaps on their teams that were not obvious before. Our clients always shared our deep commitment to diversity recruiting, but that commitment is deeper now. Everyone is learning that turbulent times require wiser and more creative solutions, and that kind of creativity emerges from teams of smart people with a diversity of lived experiences. Research shows that teams get smarter when they include members from outside of your traditional networks. The new challenges you face may be unfamiliar to you, but less daunting to someone from a different background and divergent way of thinking.

Unsurprisingly, when you want your organization to think differently, you need to recruit differently. Old approaches fail in new environments, so a more modern approach to diversity recruiting is necessary, one that adapts to the current environment.

We never relied on the most common (and most superficial) approaches to diversity recruiting, such as posting ads on diversity job boards. We know from experience that those ads are rarely seen by candidates and do little to expand the candidate pool. Similarly, we don’t rely on asking candidates “Who do you know who would like this job?” Both of those approaches can be far too insular and invariably exclude some very well-qualified candidates.

We recommend a data-driven recruiting process designed to adapt to current job market conditions and recruit a diverse slate of candidates from a wide range of backgrounds. Times like these demand an agile methodology, or a “Moneyball” approach to recruiting. We believe that modern recruiting should follow the same principles of an integrated marketing campaign. There is the message, a careful consideration of the audience for your message, a variety of message delivery mechanisms, and a feedback loop to determine if the right people saw the message and acted on it. (We outline our own agile methodology here.)

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The Era of the Modern Executive Search Firm Has Begun

Posted by Bob Corlett on May 11, 2020

Many of our clients are associations and nonprofits—organizations that exist to help other people thrive. And while they're all busy reinventing how they deliver their vital services, we’ve been equally busy adapting our services to support their new needs. Because the minute all those office doors slammed shut, the era of the modern executive search firm was ushered in. The old ways just won't rise to this occasion.

This is not how the future normally arrives. I've long appreciated William Gibson's 2003 observation, “The future is already here – it's just not evenly distributed." But in this case, the future was evenly distributed immediately upon arrival. And now every executive search firm is called upon to reconsider who we serve, what services we offer, and how we deliver those services.

So what services should a modern executive search firm offer? I'll know for sure in a couple of years, but for now, I'll share what we've done in the past two months. Clearly this is a work in progress for internal recruiting teams as well as third party search consultants: 

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The Best Candidate Rarely Has the Best Resume

Posted by Bob Corlett on May 3, 2020

It’s common knowledge among experienced hiring managers that less qualified candidates often have great resumes, and more qualified candidates often have mediocre resumes. In my experience, the best qualified candidate for a job is rarely the person who looks best on paper. Things are no different later in the hiring sequence - the candidate who offers the most polished interview answers is not always the person best qualified to do the job.

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The Increasing Cost of Hiring On Your Own

Posted by Bob Corlett on September 20, 2019

In metropolitan areas like Washington DC, it's become remarkably difficult to hire highly skilled employees and senior staff members. Trying to hire on your own has become more expensive than paying someone a fee to help you recruit. 

Here's why:

The news headlines might blare about future economic slowdowns or potential future recessions, but right now we have full employment (are you seeing any stories about layoffs from well-managed firms? No.) Quite the opposite, some organizations are hiring like mad.

So with low unemployment and fewer candidates actively looking for work, more employers are vying for the attention of fewer available and interested candidates. Consequently a few things happen in your recruiting process. Your job advertising will yield lots of candidates who are not remotely qualified (this is true in any economy) but far fewer candidates who are qualified. Next, when you try to schedule those few good people for interviews, you'll quickly discover that some of the best candidates will withdraw before the first interview because they already accepted a job offer from another employer. Or perhaps candidates accept a first interview with you but then decline a second interview.

To add insult to injury, the job advertising market itself is increasingly complex and fragmented because of all the competition between Google for Jobs, Indeed, Linkedin, Glassdoor, CareerBuilder and others. When you have a poor response to your job advertising, it's difficult to know whether you used the wrong job title, wrote an unappealing job description, posted your job in the wrong place, or maybe your job is just not as attractive to candidates compared to their other career options. All you see is who responded to your ad. You can never see who you didn't reach.  

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How to Tell if Executive Search Firms are Data-Driven and Evidence-Based

Posted by Bob Corlett on June 11, 2018

From my work with search committees, one question that often comes up is how to evaluate whether a search firm is evidence-based or data driven. Staffing Advisors' entire approach to hiring is evidence-based. But how can that be proven, or compared to another search firm? 

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Why Recruiting is Not an HR Function Anymore

Posted by Bob Corlett on November 16, 2016


If you work in an association or other nonprofit organization, it’s risky to think of recruiting as an HR function. It’s not.

By telling HR to “Post a job ad, get some resumes, and then I’ll starting interviewing,” you are making a career-limiting mistake, one that puts your personal reputation at risk.

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Good People Know Good People ... or Do They?

Posted by Bob Corlett on February 22, 2014

Conventional wisdom says that, "Good people know good people." So it naturally follows that the most common question in recruiting is, "Who do you know who might be good for this job?" Good people will inevitably lead you to other good people, right?

But what if, "Good people know good people" was more untrue than true? What if it's really a "tip of the iceberg" situation, where the visible part of the statement that's true is so much smaller than all the hidden assumptions underneath the statement that are not true?

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Recruiters: When Do You Trust Your Hiring Intuition?

Posted by Bob Corlett on October 21, 2013

On a typical search, we’ll review over 600 candidate profiles to put forward 6 candidates for an interview with the client. But even after we've ruled out 99% of the potential candidates, some of our clients will take out a pocket knife to further whittle down the interview list because some of the resumes don’t fit their pre-existing mental picture of "the ideal candidate." (Unlike insurance companies, recruiters cannot just exclude pre-existing mental conditions.) So we usually hear some variation of, "Hmm, Larry seems a little junior, and Susan comes from a background that just doesn't seem like it would fit in here, so let’s just schedule the other 4 people." But despite their objections, we encourage our clients to go ahead and interview the outlier candidates.

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How to hire a superstar for your new project

Posted by Bob Corlett on April 29, 2013

To hire a superstar for your new project, don’t go looking for someone who has a long track record of doing exactly what you need to have done. Instead, look for someone with a great track record just slightly below your challenge. Hire someone who can grow into the job.

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Who's Asking?

Posted by Bob Corlett on October 16, 2012

If you want better recruiting results, you might be looking for solutions in all the wrong places. Your biggest improvements might not be found in replacing your staff or improving your HR technology, or developing a new social media strategy.

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