Famed psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted his “small-world experiments” back in the mid-20th century. Milgram asked a random selection of people in Omaha and Wichita to get a letter to a person in Boston through someone they personally knew. In other words: If you knew the Bostonian, mail to him directly. If not, send the letter to whoever you thought would know him. They would then either mail to him or mail it on it to whomever they thought would know him.
The findings in this and other experiments on the subject suggested that people are, on average, connected to every other person on Earth through six other people. This became more commonly known as “Six Degrees of Separation.”
According to a recent study, online social networks have cut that number down to under 5, and chances are that will only drop in the future even as populations increase.
What does this mean for executive recruitment? It proves that “search” is outdated. Search means you are looking for something. But if you’re connected to every potential candidate through only a few personal and online acquaintances, your “search” is nothing more than the way you search for milk at the store.
That’s why we don’t use the term “search.” Networks like LinkedIn have made finding who is out there a breeze. If all you needed was someone with the right collection of letters starting with “C” after their name, then we’d be out of a job.
That is not the case. Finding people is easy; finding the right one takes an understanding of competencies and the experience to evaluate them.
LinkedIn and a resume can tell you about what they’ve done but not how they’ve done it. For that, you need a candidate assessment process that outlines both experiential competencies but also trait competencies, which includes their background, a leadership assessment, and a validated online psychological review.
References shouldn’t just vouch for employment and pleasant personality. They should paint a clear picture about successful and unsuccessful competencies. At all times of the evaluation and assessment, you should be willing to pull a candidate based on what is revealed in your research and never be stuck defending a candidate based on previously held beliefs.
“Search” is outdated and an unsuccessful strategy. First, you must define the client problem, translate that into a list of competencies, and recruit candidates who are successful in those competencies. Then, validate the level of expertise through face to face interviews, psychological assessments, and referencing.
Only then can you have the security to know that you are recruiting the most appropriate executive to solve your business problem.