Transparency in Search Takes Courage

“Denial is the ultimate comfort zone”David Goggins

I’m currently reading a book by retired Navy SEAL and ultra-endurance athlete David Goggins. It’s all about taking the rougher road and making the tougher decisions in life as a way to master your mind, defy the odds, and realize your true potential.

While Goggins is a great read for my own personal journey, I couldn’t help but think about how that mindset applies to our firm and search process. In our industry, and especially at Townsend Search Group, providing the best possible placement requires the courage to have difficult conversations about uncomfortable or sensitive subjects on both the client and candidate levels.

For example, let’s say that a company is looking for an experienced CFO, but their requirements and specifications don’t align with current market compensation rates. Your average recruiter will take this search on without hesitation or facing the obvious disconnect between “company expectations” and “candidate reality.” This disconnect ultimately lowers the probability of successfully negotiating an acceptable offer of employment. As a result, time is lost chasing the wrong candidate and the opportunity cost to that company will be damaging, and the recruiter’s failure will hurt far worse than if they had just managed company expectations upfront.

When it comes to presenting an opportunity or company to candidates, you have to be fully transparent too. “Sugarcoating” too much or painting too rosy a picture serves no positive purpose in a search.

It’s important to know the organization at a profound level so you can tell the most accurate story possible—even if our transparency or candor results in candidates self-selecting out early in the process, which in turn makes our search more challenging, but in the long-run pays dividends for all parties.

Search is all about finding the right person for the right situation at the right point in their career and personal life. Being transparent with candidates as to how their career aspirations align with opportunities can take courage and discipline to remain unbiased. For example, if a candidate is focused on liquidity events, exits and equity, they are probably better suited for a private equity sponsored business, and not necessarily a fit for a family-owned company, and convincing them to join anyway is equivalent to jamming a square peg in a round hole.

No matter what business you’re in, you simply can’t have trust without transparency, and transparency takes courage. Getting to that mindset isn’t easy, but it makes the long-term rewards greater and creates enduring relationships.

Get in touch with search professionals who aren’t afraid to tell it like it is—experience The Journey to placing top executive talent, customized to any and every work structure your organization offers.