Pivoting to Virtual Hiring

By Karen Bertiger, Managing Director

Six months ago most organizations would have shunned the idea of a completely virtual hiring process. How can you assess a candidate’s culture fit without sitting across a table from them? How can you onboard a new employee without those essential impromptu hallway conversations and company immersion? At Herd Freed Hartz we have been assisting clients who have had to swiftly adapt to a virtual hiring model because their hiring needs haven’t eased even during a pandemic.

For the first few weeks, many clients put recruiting efforts on hold. But as time wore on and it became clear the pandemic wasn’t going to go away any time soon, companies were forced to create a workable “new normal.” As leaders in the executive search space, it was our responsibility to help our clients navigate a situation that had no precedence.

Fortunately, we were already experts at virtual hiring. Long gone are the days when “headhunters” traveled the globe interviewing candidates; the industry found that by using video conferences we saved our clients both time and money. But that solution evolved over a period of years; we were asking our clients to pivot to a completely unfamiliar – and for some uncomfortable – process on a dime.

Now that we are five months into the pandemic, we are starting to see the results of hires made entirely virtually and decided to check in with both the clients and the candidates to see how it was working out. What we learned was that, for the most part, companies have not only adapted to virtual hiring and onboarding processes but have been pleasantly surprised by the freedom and flexibility they provide. And thanks to some quick pivots by executive and human resources teams, the new employees haven’t missed a beat.

Across the board, companies credited a reliable video conferencing platform, like Zoom or Microsoft Teams, as the most critical tool for the virtual hiring process to be successful. In those first few weeks, most companies hadn’t had a chance to assess and select one for themselves, so as their search partner we hosted a platform for them so they wouldn’t lose time.

Takeaway: Find a reliable video conferencing platform that works for your organization, and be consistent with that platform.

Ron Howell, CEO of Washington Research Foundation, had launched a critical search with us for a Director of Grants right before the pandemic hit. This wasn’t a role that could be put on hold; the predecessor had announced her retirement, and the Washington Research Foundation’s grant awards were critical to entrepreneurs who were solving a wide range of medical and technical challenges, including eradicating diseases like COVID-19.

“I was worried we wouldn’t have enough time to socialize [with the candidates] and really determine EQ skills,” Howell said. “But ‘meeting’ our candidate over video conference multiple times alleviated that concern. In fact, any fears I had about hiring during the pandemic turned out to be unfounded. Herd Freed Hartz was invaluable in helping us figure out alternatives to traditional interviewing. They guided and advised us throughout a process nobody was familiar with and ultimately we couldn’t be happier with our new hire.”
Howell hired the Director without ever having met him in person.

Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to give virtual hiring a shot. You may be pleasantly surprised to find it’s really not that different, and you can still assess culture fit by leveraging a search firm’s expertise.

“COVID interviews are tricky,” says Lisa Edwards, Superintendent of Verdant Health, who herself was onboarded during the pandemic and is now conducting the hiring for her organization. “Don’t wait for COVID to go away before making hiring decisions but be aware of how priorities have changed for the workforce. Candidates want to know what safety measures are in place. Be prepared to discuss the company’s re-opening plan. What are the steps the company is taking to ensure health safety? Do you have a contact-tracing log? How often are surfaces cleaned, and what deep-cleaning is taking place?”

It’s also important to discuss upfront the company’s policy on working in the office. Is there the option to work 100% virtually? If so, what tools and resources will the company provide? If not, what safety measures are in place? Whether or not a company is open to providing employees with the option to work from home is a key differentiator when it comes to attracting talent right now.

Takeaway: Be prepared to address pandemic-related questions and concerns from candidates and to offer flexible solutions.

A $2b Seattle-based company that engaged Herd Freed Hartz on an executive search for a VP of Human Resources was on top of the virtual hiring experience immediately. “We’ve been hiring virtually this whole time,” says Allison [last name redacted for confidentiality], the candidate identified through Herd Freed Hartz who was hired virtually herself, and is now overseeing the virtual hiring process for the company. “The recruiting team has found that working remotely has allowed more flexibility because we’re not scheduling around physical space. We can meet people where they are, which is usually at home. We have a lot more scheduling freedom; we don’t have travel logistics, so we can access people’s time more easily. It’s gone well for us, and the transition has been pretty seamless.”

Takeaway: Virtual hiring can actually be faster and easier!

David Shoultz, now Director of Grants for the Washington Research Foundation, found himself going through multiple interview processes at the start of the pandemic. He brings the perspective of how different companies reacted to events. “WRF managed [the virtual process] much better than others did. The CEO did a great job of moderating the video conferences. Even when I had to give a presentation, it was just as easy, if not easier, to present over video.” In contrast, another company he was speaking with adopted a “wait and see” approach, delaying their search and ultimately taking them out of the running for Shoultz as a prospective employer.

“WRF was the exception to my experiences interviewing during the pandemic,” says Shoultz. “Most companies were really struggling with the technology and the comfort level of hiring and onboarding virtually. I got to see how multiple companies reacted to and coped with uncertainty. It was a very interesting insight I may not have seen in more normal circumstances.”

Takeaway: This is a candidate’s chance to see how the organization handles itself, and treats its employees, under pressure.

We are living through history right now, and history has shown times of strife breed opportunity for creativity and innovation. While there will be an adjustment period as companies pivot to virtual hiring, the results we are seeing have been just as successful as hires made before the pandemic began, with a few fringe benefits to boot.

3 Ways Unconscious Bias Impacts Your Job Descriptions

by Karen Bertiger, Managing Director

As recruiters, it is our responsibility to ensure a fair interview and selection process; much of a company culture’s inclusion and diversity starts with recruiting, and we take this very seriously. We are proud that our data shows we are at or above industry standards for diverse placements. But we also understand we are still learning.

The concept of implicit bias, also called unconscious bias, was introduced by Mahzarin Banaji in the late 1990s and the research has been ongoing. Implicit bias refers to attitudes and beliefs that occur outside of our conscious awareness and control.

Some of what you’ll learn about implicit bias will likely be very surprising, which is an important point. We have to start by accepting that we don’t know what we don’t know and that at times this will be an uncomfortable journey.

From a recruiting standpoint, our opportunity to address how unconscious bias affects hiring practices and workforce equality begins as early as the job description. We want to ensure our descriptions are inclusive and will encourage all qualified individuals to engage.

Here are three broad topics to get you started on the learning curve:


Affinity bias is the tendency to gravitate towards people who are like us, but not necessarily the best person for the job. It also has to do with assumptions by association. This Psychology Today article addresses our desire to belong, and how that plays out in the professional arena. For example, one association may be that if candidates have an Ivy League education they must be smarter and better at the job. By including this requirement in your job description you are limiting the performance of your organization, and discouraging the majority of qualified applicants. Avoid specifying things like “Top Tier school” or “top engineering university” – just list the degree the role requires.

Other affinity biases may be towards people who are involved in similar extra-curricular activities as you, such as sports or other personal hobbies. These topics wouldn’t be in a job description, but it’s something to keep in mind when reviewing candidates.

Try to focus on the accomplishments and experience of the candidate you want to attract, rather than peripheral material.


Ageism refers to the assumption that someone can or cannot do a job based on age. We don’t talk about this much, but we’re all aware of it. On LinkedIn professionals truncate their profiles and dates are left off education so assumptions aren’t made about ability. In your job description, it’s best not to limit experience under the qualifications. 5+ years is okay. 5-10 years is not because it implies ageism.

This is a big one to unpack. Research has identified certain descriptors that are perceived as masculine or feminine traits that may unconsciously affect a candidate’s interest in the role or company. It’s been found that gendered wording only impacts women and has little or no effect on men. The Women and Public Policy Program created by Harvard University is just one study that came to this conclusion.

Here is a broad list of these words. Some are pretty obvious while others will be surprising. LinkedIn helps boil this list down to the ones most often used in job descriptions and provides alternatives. I wouldn’t look at this as a list of “no-nos,” but something to be aware of when crafting your job description. Do your best to balance these terms; for help, you can run your job description through the Gender Decoder which identifies terms that may be discouraging to certain applicants.

We hope this introduction will encourage you to learn more. Keeping an open mind is the best way to start creating a more inclusive and equitable culture at your organization.

Jim Herd interviewed by CNBC on companies poaching Amazon’s talent pool

Jim Herd, Managing Partner & Co-Founder of Herd Freed Hartz, was interviewed for this CNBC article about the trend of Amazon losing executives as it becomes a prime target for recruiting talent.

See full CNBC article (published May 17, 2018) by Eugene Kim

Amazon loses another key executive as it becomes a top target for poaching tech talent

  • Jim Freeman, VP of Alexa who oversaw all messaging and communication products, has left in April, adding to the string of recent executive departures at Amazon.
  • More than a dozen executives and senior managers have left Amazon over the past 10 months.
  • Hiring experts say there’s been increased demand to poach from Amazon, while some managers are leaving due to burnout.

….Professional recruiters point to two broader trends for the sudden uptick in the number of managers leaving: burnout after breakneck growth and stronger demand for Amazon executives from other companies.

Jim Herd, managing partner at the Seattle-based executive recruiting firm Herd Freed Hartz, said Amazon could be a tough place to be for a long time, as its work culture tends to be more fast-paced and high-pressure than some of its peers.

“When you go to Amazon, you’re on a treadmill — it’s really non-stop,” Herd said. “It’s not a place for everyone.”

At the same time, thanks to Amazon’s exponential success in recent years, the demand for Amazon executives has grown significantly, Herd said. Now, 9 out of 10 of his clients pick Amazon as their most preferred poaching destination, he said.

And the higher Amazon’s stock goes, the more companies are asking for Amazon executives to come help build a similar culture of growth. It is no coincidence that a lot of the departing executives went on to join later-stage startups, such as Airbnb, WeWork, and Uber, he said.

“In the ’90s everybody wanted Microsoft executives. Now it’s Amazon,” Herd said….

How Job Title Buzzwords Help You Attract Talent

Paul Freed, Managing Partner & Co-Founder of Herd Freed Hartz, was interviewed for a UK article around the trend with companies using new creative buzzwords to attract talent using non-traditional job titles such as “Ninja”, “Rockstar” and “Guru”.

See full UK article (published March 2, 2018)


As a small and emerging business, every hire is integral to your success. Many businesses use buzzwords in the hopes of getting the attention of younger workers. You may be tempted to advertise titles such as ‘IT Guru’ or ‘Development Wizard’ in the hopes of landing an employee who is flexible and can meet unexpected challenges as you continue to grow. These seem like flashy titles, but what do they actually mean? Here’s a snapshot of some buzzwords you may see out there:


Candidates must have expert knowledge in a field and a high level of problem-solving skills. They’ll also be able to pass on knowledge to other workers.


Vast amounts of creativity are needed, likely balanced with a very technically-based skillset and able to bring a unique style to work.


Must be self-motivated, with lots of energy and an ever-positive attitude in the face of problems. Almost certainly target-driven and likely from a sales background.


Storytellers lead PR efforts and coordinates promotion across many different channels. They’re in charge of how a brand communicates its ideas to the public to drive increased sales.


These positions demand workers with extensive knowledge of a niche area of expertise, most likely in the realm of technology (such as a programming language).


Rockstar may be used if a company is looking for a forward-thinking individual in their field of knowledge who can produce out-of-the-box ideas. They’ll likely also be target-driven and will regularly exceed said targets.

(left to right) Paige NeJame from CertaPro Painters, Lily Stoyanov from Transformify, Brad Owens from HR Coaching, Doug Monro from Adzuna and Paul Freed from Herd Freed Hartz. Also contributing: Gene Mal from Static JobsGrowing your workforce is a lot different to promoting your business, so we spoke to recruiters and hiring managers from around the world to learn how these buzzwords can promote your business and land top talent when you’re looking to hire. 

We asked each of our experts about which job titles are successful in attracting candidates, and which will likely turn people away. You can find the results of their scores, including their thoughts on how job titles can help or hinder the ability to recruit talent, below.


GM: They want to stand out, plus this is a way to emphasise that they want the best of the best. They don’t want just a Big Data Analyst. They want an Expert Big Data Analyst. Big Data Guru is the next logical progression. ‘Guru’ implies another level of expertise – someone who can teach experts.

BO: The initial use of creative and unusual job titles was to appeal to those job seekers that felt like they couldn’t stand to do their same, boring job over and over again. A new and innovative title made them feel like this new potential company was taking a fresh approach to what they do and was a more attractive employer.

DM: An increasingly competitive environment for recruiters means top talent is often highly sought after. Hiring managers are facing more pressure than ever to make every available role “the one” and help their positions stand out as special.  


PN: Companies may be able to attract a younger employee with these titles.

BO: Initially, I think the shift to more creative job titles led to an increase in motivated applicants for organisations that were willing to think outside of the box with their roles. That doesn’t always mean that the applicants were the right fit, but they certainly had a spike in interest.

PF: It shows off your culture. People work for people, not companies, so showing your sense of humour and culture is good and can add personality to often boring, HR-driven job descriptions. You don’t want to come across as saying “Here are 25 soul-sucking tasks you can do, but you don’t know why. Interested?” Talking like a real person is helpful, but you need to get them to find your opening first.  


LS: In some cases, the creative titles may be confusing or even misleading. What if the ‘overlord’ is actually there to support all team members and has no voice at all?

PF: You will attract fewer candidates. In fly fishing, you want to “match the hatch”. This means you want to make your fly on the hook look like something the fish are looking for. Candidates do not type ‘Coding Ninja’ into Indeed.com or sort by that. This is a huge disadvantage. Why would you intentionally lose candidates in an effort to look cool?

PN: When I advertise for a position, my first objective is to be as clear as I can be in the ad.  This means I remove all company jargon and boil the position down to the nuts and bolts of what they’ll be doing. By not sugar coating the position, I tend to get fewer, but better candidates who understand what it takes to do the job. By using an unusual title for the position, I might get more resumes, but fewer qualified candidates.  


DM: ‘Genius’, ‘expert’ and ‘rockstar’ come up more often than you’d think. We don’t see as many ‘overlords’ as we used to, though. Must be a competitive space.

GM: I’ve seen ‘evangelists’, ‘gurus’, ‘jedis’, ‘ninjas’, ‘warriors’, ‘soldiers’ and ‘knights’ for ordinary software development roles.

PF: ‘Product evangelist’ – someone promoting a new product or industry. ‘Sales hunter’ – a term used for salespeople who get new logos and clients. ‘Sales farmer’ – a term used for salespeople who keep current clients happy.  


PN: There are two main problems: candidates seem immature or young, or the company they worked for looks unestablished. Often a recruiter will have no idea what that title means, so the candidate is passed over for an interview.

GM: As a job seeker, your safe bet is to avoid them on your resume. They can always write a professional-looking title, i.e. DevOps ‘Engineer’ instead of ‘Ninja’. It’s like going to an interview in professional attire even though your interviewer can wear jeans and sneakers.

BO: When someone that has an unusual job title searches for a new position, they are often faced with the need to explain their past positions in more depth than candidates with traditional titles. Employers often have less trust of potential employees with vague job titles.  


LS: There will be more creative titles in the tech industry, for sure. ‘Cryptocoin Mining Guru’, ‘Bitcoin Trading Wizard’ etc. are likely to come to life.

BO: I think that unusual job titles only have a place internally at organisations that want to promote their culture. However, external job titles and job ads should focus on being much more straightforward and traditional, or else you risk missing your ideal candidate. In 5-10 years, I would hope that employers could create job titles that wouldn’t set their team members up for a headache when they leave their organisation. Think about how you’re affecting their careers.

DM: Pressure is on organisations to push the boundaries more than ever, to stand out for candidates and attract top talent to work with you. With the increase in creative language, we may well be seeing yet more unusual titles joining the fold, from ‘pirates’ to ‘wranglers’, as well as social media developments pushing in words like ‘influencer’. We may even see words like ‘programmer’ or ‘scientist’ make the leap out of the world of STEM and into the marketing mainstream. ‘Brand Scientist’, anyone?

Understanding Retained Search

With a more stable economy, a generational change in business leadership, and increased competition for highly experienced executives, relying on finding your next executive hire through traditional means like colleague referral or networking won’t necessarily find you the right fit, or fill your role quickly. And as the Northwest becomes a magnet for more technology, consumer, biotech and healthcare businesses, even the most reputable, profitable and successful companies will need to boost their competitiveness to attract top executive talent.

Working with an executive search partner can bring significant benefits not just to your immediate hiring need but also to the ongoing health of your organization. Many companies dismiss this option either because they fear the cost might be prohibitive, or they don’t understand the longer-term value of this particular service. However, partnering with an executive search firm on a key, critical hire for your organization will not only be beneficial in the short term (finding the right fit) but can actually save you a considerable amount of time and money in the long run.

Some key contributing factors to today’s competitive market at the executive level include:
* The Conference Board, in a recent study, reported that the average tenure of S&P 500 company CEOs was 9 years in 2014.

* Temple University pinpointed “the optimal tenure length” for a CEO at 4.8 years, compared with the average at big corporations of 9-10 years.

* Nearly half of new CEOs don’t make it past 18 months, according to the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants (AESC).

* CIO tenure is under five years; according to CIO Executive Coach Larry Bonfante in CIO Insight magazine.

* And a recent CMO longevity study reported in the Wall Street Journal found the average tenure for CMOs fell to 44 months in 2015, down from 48 months in 2014.

In this tight market, companies are considering approaches to hiring that are new to them. Where in the past contingent search or a “friends and family” approach may have worked, many companies are now requiring the boost to executive hiring that retained search can provide.

While repeat customers of retained search (like venture capital and private equity backed companies) are advocates of the results and the process, other companies are unfamiliar with this approach to executive hiring. We’ve found – in talking to board members, executives and HR professionals – that there are some misunderstandings about the role of retained executive search.

Myth #1 – Executive Search is Expensive

The costs of replacing an executive can be exorbitant, and not always from a cash perspective. Especially when nearly half of new CEOs don’t make it past 18 months.

In fact, 53% of failed hires ended up failing because “the hire’s personality was not suited to the role or company,” according to the 2016 McQuaig Global Talent Recruitment Survey of nearly 450 HR professionals from around the globe.

In a world where leadership is critical to business success, the costs of a mismatch in personality, leadership style culture or even geography can, and likely will, lead to underperformance, and can have a ripple effect on the morale of the organization as a whole. By ensuring a rigorous screening process, in the long run you’ll save your company significant pain and cost by finding the right fit, the first time. In addition, most search firms will guarantee their placement for six months to a year, mitigating your risk and costs.

Retained, executive search professionals spend the majority of their time doing research – matching personalities, culture, and business acumen with business leaders, board members, partners and their prospective executives. And we screen your candidates for the role, the company and the area – in the case of relocation.

We do so to maximize fit, and minimize disruptions to the business as new leaders are assimilated into new organizations. We work together to ensure everyone establishes long-term successful relationships throughout their careers.

When you engage with a retained search firm you should expect the following return:

  1. Intense and exclusive attention to your business, culture, leadership team and fit. The best retained search firms don’t take on too many searches so they can truly be the driver, mentor and strategist for the entire time it takes to fill your role.Executive search partners are advisors on both sides of a successful placement, holding hands with each party and guiding them down the proverbial aisle. Both the candidate and the organization are entering into true partnerships – almost a marriage – with leadership teams, company cultures, even geographical lifestyles. It is the search firm’s responsibility to find the right match for you in every respect.
  2. It takes time and commitment to develop a deep understanding of a leadership role, successfully identify the relationships any candidate will need to cultivate, and ensure that out-of-state candidates would be comfortable with relocation to the Pacific Northwest.As candidates go through the process, the questions they ask and the emotions they need to go through in order to make their decisions can be very tricky. Your executive search partner will ensure candidates and clients are comfortable and all questions and concerns are addressed in order to move them through the process as efficiently and effectively as possible.
  3. A highly experienced retained search partner will control and manage the entire process for your team. At Herd Freed Hartz, for example, our executive search professionals have held leadership roles in the corporate world. We understand our clients’ perspectives because we’ve been on their side, sitting in their seats.
  4. The most successful candidates for your company will be currently employed. They will not be found on job boards, nor will they be thinking about making a career change. Through competent and strategic research and preparation, in conjunction with years of professional experience, the successful retained search executive can convince even the best of the best to consider new, often competitive opportunities.

There’s an art to telling your compelling story in the marketplace in a way that will convince happy executives to consider a move. Combining the best of “old school” search and “new school” search, your retained search partner should be able to deliver great candidates through personal relationships augmented with software based research that can speed results from first touch to final offer and acceptance.

Myth #2 – The Executive Search Fee Model is Inflexible

Retained, executive search firms charge for their connections, their research, candidate vetting, their handholding and their deep understanding of your personality, company culture and even the indescribable needs of your organization and the role you’re filling.

An executive search partner focuses solely on offering the most value for the business during the search, reducing stress on both parties, so that by the time the first highly-qualified candidate is considered, the client and candidate are prepared equally to understand the probability of landing a successful offer.

Most retained search firms offer fixed, time-based payment terms. At Herd Freed Hartz, we are flexible in our payment arrangements. And there’s an agreement up front as to payment milestones. Each milestone is connected to our client’s satisfaction.

We measure our results in a “Time to Candidate” metric– which is our average number of days from search kickoff to when the candidate who was presented to actually got the job (which is what we all care most about). Today, our average Time to Candidate is 37 days.

In other words, we’re happy when our clients are happy. And that can happen pretty quickly – even with a rigorous qualification process.

Myth 3 – You Don’t Need to Understand the Market When You Have an Internal Candidate

Benchmarking your internal candidates against a highly qualified pool of external candidates can protect both your company and your employees from risk.

Legally, every candidate should flow through the same process as you consider new roles. An executive search partner will ensure your internal candidate will be fully vetted for the right background, skills, fit and compensation; and provide comparison to to a selection of external candidates so you are able to make an informed decision.

Bringing an executive into your company and culture is a big decision, and the right executive search firm will allow you to focus on a carefully selected short list of highly qualified individuals that are right for your organization. Hiring a search firm may not be the right decision in every case, but by debunking some of these myths we hope that the idea of engaging with a retained search partner is something well worth exploring when it comes to your key executive hires.

About Herd Freed Hartz

Herd Freed Hartz is the premier executive search firm in the Northwest, with offices in Portland and Seattle. At Herd Freed Hartz, we listen to understand your story. We do a deep dive on your business, the role you’re trying to fill, and help identify the key outcomes to target the ideal candidate. And we’ve successful placed executives in more than 150 businesses around the Northwest – from Zillow to Starbucks to REI to Les Schwab Tires.

We know you can’t find a cultural fit through keyword research. We know how to look beyond the resume to find the right candidates for your business. And we take responsibility to represent your brand extremely well in the marketplace. We help you stand out from your competition, to attract the best prospective candidates, and ensure a great candidate experience throughout the time you connect with them.

We can quickly deliver executive talent to help you win. And as our team delivers great results to your business, we want to earn the right to be your long-term, trusted recruiting partner.

We get the Northwest. We get the importance of personality and cultural fit on both sides of the aisle.

We’d like to help you build a great executive team.

Connect with us – in Portland – 503-535-0713 or Seattle – 206-525-9700.

Recruiting and Hiring Executives to Protect Your Bottom Line

Got an extra $1.5M lying around?

According to Geoff Smart and Randy Street in their best selling business book Who, the average hiring mistake costs 15x an employee’s base salary in hard costs and productivity loss. So the cost of a single employee making $100,000 a year leaving your company with or without cause has a significant impact on the company’s bottom line. While no company has complete control over who will stay and who will go, the best way to protect against these losses are to ensure you are hiring the right people, the first time.

No one is immune to poor hiring decisions. Even the most progressive businesses make hiring mistakes. Zappos’ CEO Tony Hseih began paying unhappy employees $2,000 to leave the company because hiring mistakes have cost him more than $100M. He recognized that paying employees who were not fully committed after two weeks in the role was actually more cost-effective than allowing a more natural process to weed them out over a longer period of time.

The Economist called unsuccessful hiring “the single biggest problem in business.” And leadership-hiring mistakes happen more often than you might think. In the US, the typical hiring success rate of managers is only about 50%, according to Peter Drucker and other researchers.

When only 50% of your leadership hires work out, the costs to your bottom line can be astronomical.

How is that possible? As Smart and Street spelled out in Who, costly hiring mistakes are made when business leaders:
* Are unclear about what’s needed in a job
* Have a weak candidate pool from which they can choose
* Don’t know how to pick out the right candidate from a group of similar candidates
* Lose candidates they really want to join their team

First let’s dissect how that single $100,000 employee’s $1.5M can add up:

A global study of 6,000 HR leaders by CareerBuilder explored the direct and indirect costs of hiring the wrong employee. The study’s participants cited the following wrong hiring costs to their businesses:
* 41% lost worker productivity
* 40% lost time due to recruiting and training another worker
* 37% expense recruiting and training another worker
* 36% negative impact on employee morale
* 22% negative impact on client solutions

To underscore the costs of lost productivity:

A survey of CFOs reported that supervisors spend 17% of their time (almost one day a week!) overseeing poorly performing employees. We’ve all been there, and realize that lost productivity is a black hole that affects the entire leadership team, employees, customers and shareholders.

To better understand the lost time due to recruiting someone else:

According to Glassdoor’s Economic Research team, the average time it takes to interview in Portland is 25.3 days, and in Seattle is 25.0 days.

That’s an average for interviewing candidates from franchise workers (shortest time) to government workers (longest time); and Portland and Seattle take the second- and third-longest times in the national study. Believe it or not, we’re ahead of fourth-place San Francisco, and behind only Washington, DC!

Add to the interview time – especially for business executive candidates – the time it takes to negotiate, to wait for the candidate to wrap up their obligations and come aboard, and the time to successful onboarding (not even productivity) can literally take months, unaided.

(At Herd Freed Hartz, we track quality and speed in our average “Time to Candidate” metric of 37 days. This is our average number of days from search kickoff to when the winning candidate was presented.)

To underscore costs to employee morale:

A high stress environment or an environment in which employees are disengaged can cause a loss of employee productivity. A bad hire often causes both stress (to the poor hire and/or others) and disengagement (of the poor hire and/or others).

The American Psychological Association, in their Annual Stress in America survey, estimates that more than $500 billion is siphoned off from the U.S. economy because of workplace stress, and 550 million workdays are lost each year due to stress on the job.

Studies from the Queens School of Business and the Gallup Organization found that disengaged workers had 37% higher absenteeism, 49% more accidents, and 60% more errors and defects than workers who were engaged.

Enough Bad News! How Do We Hire More Effectively?

In short, business leaders must take a more disciplined approach to sourcing and interviewing all candidates – especially executives.

In HBR’s Definitive Guide to Hiring in Good Times and Bad, they noted:

A company can increase its yearly profits and market value by about a third through the disciplined generation and assessment of candidates for a CEO position. The typical cost of a search… is negligible when compared with the expected return on investment in candidate assessment.

Even for a company with a market value of $100 million—a 10% improvement in the quality of candidate assessments would have an expected return of almost $2 million in additional profits per year and mean an increase in market value of $30 million to $40 million.”

What are the attributes of “disciplined generation and assessments of candidates?” At Herd Freed Hartz, we take a programmatic approach with our clients, layering art and science on top of strategy:
* Strategy: Have a written plan to achieve your hiring goals
* Science: Leverage technology tools for efficiency and scale
* Art: Craft inspirational storytelling and candidate experience to ensure your company stands out from the pack


Successful Strategy: Building Your Plan and Goals

A written plan accomplishes several critical things: focusing your search; setting expectations for HR, your recruiting partner and the candidates themselves; and supporting the interview team as candidates come through.

First, defining the specific demands the job will require will help you screen for candidates more quickly, and help potential candidates understand your expectations from the very beginning.

Specifying the relevant skills and experience for the position will speed time to a strong candidate pool, and guide the interview team.

Identifying the team the candidate will need to work with – across and beyond your organization – will help build consensus among constituents as to job and candidate requirements.

And defining the way culture and context will affect the role (not the person) will elevate your hiring process beyond decision-making based on subjective, personal preferences

Science: Tools and Technology Speed Results

LinkedIn is still the biggest platform for recruiters, and recent studies have shown that 87% of professionals on LinkedIn are open to speaking with a recruiter. You might explore other social aggregation tools – like TalentHook, Gild and Hiring Solved – to more quickly find candidates through search. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) research shows that HR professionals are leveraging social media to tap into the talent pool and to promote their organizations’ brand, culture and benefits offerings to attract and retain new leaders.

Building a great employer brand online – especially through social media – can help even the most passive candidates consider a career opportunity. Your website is your foundation for success, but increasingly potential candidates are turning to social media and LinkedIn (and other professional networking sites) to gather brand impressions.

Art: Inspirational Storytelling, Candidate Experiences Set You Apart

And finally, the art of recruiting and hiring leaders for great fit is the area that has the potential for the very best ROI in the successful hiring process. The art of executive recruiting is measured, inspiring and strategic.

The art of executive recruiting is:
* Adding just the right sizzle to the job description to make it so compelling, even passive candidates will consider a switch.
* Creating a seamless candidate experience so that every single candidate will walk away with a positive impression of your company.
* Helping everyone in your organization become a great brand advocate – everyone in your business should be a recruiter.
* Boosting your interview team’s skills, to focus on rational vs. emotional decisions
* Using epic storytelling techniques to set candidates and your eventual hire up for success in their first year on the job.

How does your business measure up?

We hope that illuminating the true costs of a bad hire and how to better prepare your organization for hiring success will help your organization to protect your bottom line and prepare for growth in a positive way.

An executive search partner can make the search process almost seamless for your leadership team, your candidates and your employees. And a retained search firm can often accelerate your search to a successful hire.

About Herd Freed Hartz

Herd Freed Hartz is the premier executive search firm in the Northwest, with offices in Portland and Seattle. At Herd Freed Hartz, we listen to understand your story. We do a deep dive on your business, the role you’re trying to fill, and help identify the key outcomes to target the ideal candidate. And we’ve successful placed executives in more than 150 businesses around the Northwest – from Zoom+ to Starbucks to REI to Les Schwab Tires.

We know you can’t find a cultural fit through keyword research. We know how to look beyond the resume to find the right candidates for your business. And we take responsibility to represent your brand extremely well in the marketplace. We help you stand out from your competition, to attract the best prospective candidates, and ensure a great candidate experience throughout the time you connect with them.

We can quickly deliver executive talent to help you win. And as our team delivers great results to your business, we want to earn the right to be your long-term, trusted recruiting partner.

We get the Northwest. We get the importance of personality and cultural fit on both sides of the aisle.

We’d like to help you build a great executive team.

Connect with us – in Portland – 503-535-0713 or Seattle – 206-525-9700.

Hook job candidates with your “company sizzle”

How to Strike through the Competitive Talent Market in Order to Find the Right Candidate

The current competition within the job market is pretty steep, for both employees and employers. Everyone is out there looking for the best candidates, and likewise, candidates are searching among employers to see where they fit best, and fit involves everything from job title, to salary, and more recently, company culture. In many ways, employers are under more scrutiny to appear attractive to top candidates than vice versa. These days, to find the right candidate, you need a solid strategy in place.

1. Develop Your Goals Into a Written Plan

The benefits of a thorough plan are manyfold, but first and foremost, it will help you find the best candidate in the least amount of time. In developing a written plan, consider expectations you have for candidates, realistic demands of the position, and even broader departmental and organizational goals.

Creating an accurate and specific description of the job, it’s demands and the requisite qualifications necessary to meet those demands will help your HR, executive recruitment partners, and interview teams screen candidates more quickly and thoroughly. Likewise, it will give prospective candidates clear expectations from the outset. All of this leads to a stronger candidate pool in less time.

Pulling in broader departmental and organizational goals will help you identify the team your candidate will work with. Through this, you can create your job and candidate descriptions through consensus.

Just like an executive search firm, a fully fleshed plan will take the grandview. To push hiring-based decisions beyond the subjective, define your company culture and how it affects the role candidates will perform.

2. Create a Fantastic Job Description and Make it ‘Sizzle’

You’ve written your plan, coalesced the information you need to describe your ideal candidate and their role in your organization. While that will help to screen better candidates more quickly—especially on your end—it won’t do much to attract the most sought after candidates all on its own.

Whatever your business may be, finding top candidates for executive roles requires a bit of marketing. Put yourself in the shoes of your ideal candidates: you have a valuable, desirable skill set and are eager to continue developing them. Would a sterile list of figures, facts and revenue reports attract you to apply to a job listing?

In Seattle and beyond, the best executive search firms work to understand and market to a target audience of potential new employees. Your job listing should be a compelling response to the question, “Why should I work for your company?” That answer is developed through your company story.

Where did you begin? Before Apple was the most ubiquitous multinational electronics company, it was just two hopeful guys in garage. Origin stories provide a great way to make a personal and humanizing introduction and show that growth is inherent to your business.

Where you are now is why employees want to apply for job you’re advertising. Whether you’ve received company culture accolades like placement on a “best places to work list” or are providing the first product of its kind, identify what sets you apart. Every business has something that sets them apart. In a concise, meaningful and genuine way, let prospective candidates know what that is.

Likewise, let them know what will set their tenure with you apart from other jobs. Don’t be afraid to use realistic language that might deter candidates unlikely to thrive in your business. You want the best and the best will be excited to face the unique challenges of your business.

3. Utilize Inspirational Story Telling

Your story doesn’t have to be just a story, it can be an epic story. So many of the epics we revere as a culture are timeless because they speak to a larger narrative and inspire us to act. To us, that is the true art of executive search firms perform: telling your story in a way that will inspire candidates to become inspired employees.

Try to incorporate the three common elements of an epic into your listing: the hero, the quest and the villain. Your story’s hero is the candidate you will hire. Your detailed job description and sizzle will help to outline the challenges and successes they’ll experience. Their quest is your organization’s broader quest, something your hero will complete along with the team of heroes you already employee. The villain is a top competitor you plan to outpace; reasons your company presents the best fit or breaks the status quo in your market.

4. Hire for Culture First, Not Résumé Keyword Fits

Your company’s culture describes your core values and how your organization is aligned around them. Establishing those values has been a project unto itself and it takes the right people to maintain it.

When it comes to company culture Zappos and it’s CEO Tony Hsieh are lauded examples. In Hsieh’s own telling, he has built Zappos into a business with annual revenues in excess of $1 billion by maintaining the company’s culture: “If you get the culture right, most of the other stuff like delivering great customer service or building a long-term enduring brand will just happen naturally on its own.”

Hiring for culture helps maintain your workplace as a place that employees are excited to come to every day and ensures smooth workflow and good communication. Talent doesn’t mean much if it doesn’t thrive in the context of your company culture.

5. Make Sure Your Candidate’s Experience is Top Notch

A candidate’s experience throughout the interview process will certainly affect their interest. In a LinkedIn poll, more than 80 percent of participants stated that a negative interview experience can change their mind about a job; similarly, more than 80 percent stated that a positive experience can sway them the other way.

Beyond a candidate’s interest, the interview experience you provide can have an impact on your public image and employment brand. Consider each candidate interview as an opportunity to create a new fan of your business.

The number one key to providing a candidate with a positive experience is communication. Whether to schedule a first interview, request more information or respectfully decline their application, try to reply to every applicant within 48 hours. Throughout, keep every candidate abreast of timing and next steps so that candidates can focus on giving their best interview, not logistics.

A chief complaint among job applicants is never being officially “closed out” of the interview process. It’s of little cost, but significant consequence to send a respectful brief email to candidates who will not be moving forward. However, if a candidate has dropped out of consideration after a round or more of interviews, consider making a brief phone call to let them know personally.

6. Using the Right Tools

These days, social media operates at the very center of the business world. LinkedIn is still the biggest platform for executive recruiters and search firms, but there are others—TalentHook, Gild, Hiring Solved to name a few—that you can incorporate into your candidate search.

Social media tools are also essential to developing an employer brand. Your website may be your foundation, but an attractive social media presence can nudge the most passive candidates into considering career opportunities with your company.

7. Consult Herd Freed Hartz, Seattle Executive Search Consultants

Finding the best candidates in today’s job market is a time consuming and expensive process, one that is multiplied many times over by selecting the wrong candidate. New hires can have profound impacts on culture and productivity, especially within management or executive positions.

We at Herd Freed Hartz pride ourselves in delivering peace of mind to clients by finding greatness, not just good hires. Executive recruitment is an art that we at Herd Freed Hartz have proven ourselves in. Since 2001 top Seattle and NW companies have trusted Herd Freed Hartz to find their executive hires. Over 90% of our business comes from returning clients or referrals. Helping businesses build great executive teams is our passion.

If you’re on the hunt for your next great Executive hire, Connect with us today!

Time to Candidate: How Herd Freed Hartz Helps You Find the Right Candidate in Record Time

According to a study conducted by Temple University, the optimal length for a CEO’s stay at a company is just 4.8 years. However, the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants reports that almost half of all new CEOs don’t make it past 18 months. Turnover of that rate creates vacancies that can cost potentially cost your company millions, especially if your new hire isn’t the right fit.

HFH understands that, especially when recruiting top-talent candidates, time is money, and we incorporate this understanding into all of our recruitment operations from the very beginning. That’s why, of all the executive search firms in Seattle, we consistently provide the fastest average time to candidate: 37 days. Here’s how:

Telling Your Story

The story of your business isn’t so different from the all-time epics of our age: Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Game of Thrones. Whether destroying the ring, defeating the Galactic Empire, or ascending the Iron Throne, every epic story revolves around a quest. Your business’s quest might be delivering a quality products or services at competitive prices. Whatever it is, it should set your business, your teams and your potential recruits in the context of a larger narrative and give everyone something to feel inspired by.

Of course, every quest needs a hero. At Herd Freed Hartz Executive Search Firm, we see every person in every person and every role as heroic in some way. That’s why, as executive recruiters, we don’t seek out people to fill seats, we look for heros, to carry out your quest!

Getting Beyond Résumé Keywords

Keyword searches may be effective at screening out under-qualified candidates, but they do little to determine a candidate’s cultural suitability for a given role. That’s why we make it our business to not only accurately represent your brand, but to help you stand out against the competition in attracting the best prospective candidates and providing the most positive candidate experience.

Looking at Culture First

Though company culture itself is hard to quantify, its impact on candidate and overall company success is not. A 2016 McQuaig Global Talent Recruitment survey reported that 53% of failed hires fail because “the hire’s personality was not suitable to the role or company.” Even a candidate whose CV might make them the most technically qualified to a role can create costly disruption if their personality doesn’t match your company culture.

Creating a Positive Candidate Experience

Creating a positive candidate experience is more than a way to incorporate the Golden Rule into your business practice: it’s also an invaluable branding and marketing opportunity. A survey by Kelly Services UK found that 70% of applicants would discuss a negative candidate experience with family and friends and that 31% would go public. Depending on what your company does, potential candidates can also be potential customers!

Average 37 Days—It’s What We Do

Our time to candidate averages just 37 days, because we know your business can’t wait any longer. Vacancies can cut deep into your bottom line and at Herd Freed Hartz, we want to see you and your business experience the fullest of your potential. That’s probably why over 90% of our executive search work comes from return business or referrals.

Since 2001 HFH has been one of the most trusted retained executive search firms in the Pacific Northwest. Traditional means such as colleague referral or networking aren’t likely to find the right candidate or find them quickly enough. We see executive recruitment as an artform and part of the art is providing clients with one of the fastest times to candidate available.

If you’re tired of waiting for new executive talent to invigorate your company, contact HFH today.