It’s not about who you know, but who you don’t know

It’s not about who you know, but who you don’t know

The transport and infrastructure sectors are full of familiar faces.

Often top senior leaders are household names within the sector – particularly now that social media means that most people are only the click of a button away. So it’s pretty easy, when looking to fill a position, to assume that you can source the best candidates through your own personal network. After all, you know everybody right?

Previously, we have discussed how valuable networking, and tapping into your employees networks, can be to sourcing top talent.

Networking is undoubtedly a key tool in the sourcing process. The insight you gain from a personal referral can far outweigh a glowing CV or a well prepared interview.

However, it should be treated as just that – one tool in the arsenal of available techniques to help you find the very best person for the role.

Relying solely on your network to deliver top talent does have the potential to save you time and money but it comes with some risks:-

1. It must be done by you.

These are your contacts, friends, ex-colleagues, maybe even family. Networking isn’t something that you can delegate down the food chain. You must be willing to commit a substantial amount of time to the task in order to produce any significant results.

The alternative is to undertake a full search of the market, where the bulk of the work would be done by your in-house recruitment team (if your business has that capability) or a specialist executive search firm like ourselves.

2. The cost of delay.

We’ve seen it time and time again. What was supposed to be a fast hire turns out to be three times as long as it should have been. You can spend weeks, months, canvassing your network, phoning and emailing everyone you have ever worked with, only to end up back at square one and seeking out professional recruitment help.

This costs you and the company. For every hour spent trawling through your contacts it’s an hour not spent focusing on your current workload. It’s important if you are considering the networking approach that you set, and stick to, a strict deadline. Give yourselves no more than a month to find the ideal candidate and after that admit defeat. Any longer and the exercise is no longer a time saving technique.

3. Lack of diversity.

We are all genetically inclined to like people like us. We feel that we ‘get’ them and that we can trust them.

The people you know are more likely to share the same characteristics and values as you. While this isn’t necessarily a negative thing, as it means they are also likely to share the values of the company, it does mean that by always relying on your network, you run the risk of hiring similar people again and again.

The same people and ideas are constantly being cycled around the business, which can severely restrict creativity and innovation. It’s advisable to bring people in to the company from a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives to avoid progress becoming stagnant.

4. Giving referrals a free pass.

It’s easy to assume that if a colleague or friend you regard highly has recommended a candidate to you, that the candidate will automatically be right for the role.

You risk relaxing the standard vetting process, perhaps skipping a second interview or neglecting to take up references before offering them the role. It is crucial to follow your usual selection and interview processes in order to form your own, solid opinion of the candidate in question. If you know the individual well, it’s also best to get an objective second opinion from one of your colleagues.

5. Limited market.

Finally, and perhaps most critically, you are only seeing a tiny segment of the market.

Even the most well connected people, who attend all of the networking lunches and awards ceremonies can’t possibly know every single person in the market. By limiting your search to only people you know of, you are cutting yourself off from a vast talent pool, filled with people perfectly capable to excel in the role you are looking to fill.

Before approaching any candidates on behalf of our clients, we always produce a longlist for them to check through and give feedback on contenders that they may already know of and have an opinion on. On average they will only be familiar with around 10% to 30% of the names, proving that networking alone can’t be relied upon to give an accurate picture of the talent out there.

While executive search firms will utilise their networks for referrals, the search will not be limited to networking alone, but will explore a variety of avenues and techniques to tap into the best person to fill your roles.

To arrange a call to discuss how we can help you secure the best talent in the transport and infrastructure sectors click HERE

Author: Jim Newsom

Jim Newsom

Managing Director