Wednesday, December 05, 2012

How an HR Director's Hiring Process Leveraged a Security Recruiting Methodology

For over two decades now, I’ve interacted with just about every flavor of Human Resources professional you’ll find in business.  This includes HR people in small Pre-IPO Start-Up companies as well as HR professionals in Fortune 500 companies and companies of all sizes in-between.
One of the most satisfying HR relationships I’ve encountered in 20+ years of interacting with the HR profession was with Michael Salisbury who is the founder of Human Resource Alliance and author of the HR Alliance Blog.

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At the time when I first met and worked with Mike, he was an HR Director in the film industry in Hollywood, CA.  Mike called on me to fill a Converged VP of Security role in the film industry.

This story isn’t about what I did as a security recruiter.  This story is what Mike did as an HR Director on the corporate side of the fence to make our working relationship produce success at the highest possible level.

1.     Retained Search: When Mike first called on me, he asked me if I could share my security recruiting methodology for getting highly strategic security jobs filled.  Once I explained my methodology and Mike was convinced that I wasn’t a recruiting generalist, we quickly talked about a retained search relationship because Mike was serious about capturing my attention because hiring the right Converged Security Executive was critical to his organization’s success.  He intended to invest significant time with me and he needed the same commitment from me.

 2.       Job Description Creation: Mike invited me to help him create the initial CSO job description.  This was the company’s first Chief Security Officer hire.  Mike understood what the company needed from the inside but he needed my help to understand the playing field of potential candidate talent outside of his organization. Understanding hte playing field is one thing but crafting a job description takes speical skill.  Mike wanted my help. 
Writing a job description that clearly identified what was in it for a gainfully employed Chief Security Officer candidate to leave their current safe employment to take the risk of coming to work for Mike's organization in this brand new start-up role was important to Mike.  He knew that his job description couldn’t simply be a laundry list of wants, needs and desires from his company’s perspective.  He knew that the job description would have to also paint a picture of how an individual would personally grow if they came to work for his organization.  As a result, we created a position description that reflected the needs of the company and included the “what’s in it for me” to attract prospective candidates.

 3.       Stakeholder Decision Makers:  Mike connected me with a half dozen stakeholders within his business.  These were business leaders whose departments would be impacted by the hiring of the company’s first Chief Security Officer.  The purpose of connecting me with stakeholders was so that I could gain a clear understanding of their stakeholder expectations for a new CSO.  An additional benefit was that I could let Mike know if any of his stakeholders were not working from the same playbook as the rest of the team.  There were in fact a couple of senior managers who had expectations that were not in line with the rest of their peers.  Mike had to work with these stakeholders and engage them in a manner that ensured that they were aligned with the rest of the group before I could deliver candidates.  Not getting all stakeholders working from the same set of instructions would have been a critically important step to miss had Mike not been paying attention.  Fortunately, Mike didn't miss a beat.  
 4.       Every Candidate Should Feel Special:  Mike demonstrated an understanding of recruiting.  He understood that recruiting is part sales and part psychology.  Mike specifically wanted me to make every candidate feel as though they were being personally recruited rather than being selected from a bucket of candidates.  This was easy because I invest significant time with all of my candidates to discover what they want, need and expect in a future employer.  The effort here was to find a balance between me delivering candidates who were right for Mike’s corporate culture and also making each candidate feel like they were important.

 5.       Continual Feedback:  Mike was experienced enough to know that recruiting strategic talent is a process and not an event.  Mike’s Converged CSO job was one of the most difficult positions I’ve ever taken on as a security recruiter.  While I frequently fill positions with only 1-3 resumes, for Mike’s multi-dimensional role included all facets of information security, physical security as well as digital rights management, copy protection, anti-piracy, etc. Mike’s agreement with me was that he would collect stakeholder feedback and would give me precise information very quickly following every candidate’s interview process so that we could fine-tune our process. 

 6.       Offer Stage: Mike understood that while on the outside, I’m a security recruiter, on the inside, I’m a sales professional.  As a sales professional, Mike understood that I live to close deals.  Any recruiter who is worthy of a search fee is a sales professional.  Because Mike took the time to understand my security recruiting methodology at the beginning of our relationship, he understood that it was critically important to let me finish what I had started once we found the right candidate.  As part of the retained search agreement, Mike agreed to let me close the deal because he knew that I possessed a closing process that has been fine-tuned for over 20 years. 

 7.       Success:  My professional relationship with Mike Salisbury has been one of the most satisfying of my 22.5 year recruiting career.  As an HR Director, Mike created a highly logical and organized internal process for interviewing candidates.  We met in the middle as I brought to him a process for identifying, recruiting and delivering top-shelf security talent.  Mike set me up to win and showed appreciation for my time and my developed expertise.  Mutual respect was established and a true partnership was established.

This is an abbreviated story of how an HR Director successfully partnered with a highly specialized security recruiter.  Mike didn’t try to do my work and I didn’t try to do his.  We truly collaberated and success resulted for everyone involved in Mike’s process.

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