When Less Expensive Costs More

A shortcut is the longest distance between two points. -- Charles Issawi

Nowhere is this more evident than in the conversations we have with clients and others about approaches they’ve tried when searching for leadership talent in an attempt to shortcut the process and save a few dollars: contingent searches; DIY searches using paid or unpaid ads online; and sites like LinkedIn, Career Builder, Indeed, Ladders, Glassdoor, etc.


Their frustration is palpable. In the best cases, they are annoyed by the amount of time and energy required by these ostensibly less expensive, “easy-to-use” methods and the poor results they often yielded. In the worst cases, they hired someone who turned out to be a bad hire.


Initially, it’s attractive to engage these methods because they seem quicker and less expensive. However, there is a flip side to the coin.


Clients highlight the real costs associated with “less expensive” methods, including the significant additional time and effort required to prepare for the search and to sort the “wheat from the chaff” when flooded with resumes. They also lament that these methods generally only look at potential candidates who have made themselves available, thereby missing the largest pool of highly qualified prospects. Usually, after months of spinning their wheels, businesses are no closer to the leadership hire they desperately need.


The most painful examples shared with us by clients are the ones that, after all the extra work, ended in a bad hire. The extra costs of hiring the wrong person are conservatively estimated at two-times their annual salary.


As we learned from Aesop’s tale of The Tortoise and The Hare, you can get to the finish line more quickly by doing things purposefully and with focus than by rushing with no real plan.

 

Greg Mickelson is a Principal of Standish Executive Search, a New England-based firm that advises business owners, executives and boards who are positioning their companies for accelerated growth, change or succession.

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