Writing a hiring plan (or summarising it into a slide) is the simple part. It’s the four ingredients that take time to create and understand. And each one is worth their weight in gold.
Ingredient 1 - Clear Job Description
If you need a Chief Technology Officer, a Vice President of Regulatory Affairs or any other senior role, don’t sum up their job in three bullet points on the fly. If only I had a dollar for every time I’d seen that happen…!
Create a crystal clear job description that defines their functional and cultural contribution. Also, ensure it includes the financial incentives on offer and how they should expect to be known inside and outside the organisation if they are successful in the first two years and then after five years at your company. This is important because it will help candidates understand that you are in search of an ally
, not just employees.
Not having this will mean you can’t adequately talk to potential candidates about them joining your business. And if you do start talking to candidates about roles without having clarified what you want the role to achieve, there is an excellent chance the candidate will form their own perspective about the role.
Fast forward a little further.
You court them.
They join based on a loose and generic role description.
Then you, your company and the candidate lose because after six months you part ways because expectations and incentives were misaligned from the start.
Ingredient 2 - Candidate List
When I construct a candidate list I look into my network and those who I trust to make a referral. I don’t want to waste their time so in asking who they might know I ask them to provide a brief description of the potential candidate.
In other words, I ask them to think about how people describe other people, particularly in a professional context. This description usually consists of four factors in one sentence and how I/we know them. For example, Melissa June: Spent 15 years in biotech, launched [product name], went to med school at Stamford, married with kids. Met via John Mayo.
Obviously, there is a lot more detail that sits beneath this description but you get the point. It’s important to succinctly understand why a candidate may be a fit.
My candidate list is full of descriptions like this accompanied by a link to their LinkedIn profile so I can learn more about the candidate if need be.
Ingredient 3 - Candidate Incentives
There is only one way to know candidate incentives. By talking to them. And because incentives aren’t the first thing that comes up in conversations, you’ll need to have spoken to each candidate multiple times. After pitching them on the vision, meeting with them a couple more times to understand their questions and where they’re at, you’ll reach a point where it’s OK to ask what it will take to convince them to join.
Common incentives (like salary and equity) are simple to describe but almost never get to ‘why’ someone is thinking of joining.
I ask one or a combination of the following questions to get a read on a candidate’s incentives:
- What could working with [company name] do to help your family?
- What’s missing from your LinkedIn profile that this role could help with?
- How do you hope you’ll be remembered professionally?
- What interest outside of work do you want to advance the most in the next five years?
Incentives often fall into family, professional and community-related pursuits. While there are some exceptions, this knowledge can help create the conditions through which a compelling offer can be made to a candidate.
Ingredient 4 - Likelihood To Join Framework
This essential ingredient requires judgement. The ‘likelihood to join’ frameworks isn’t just about how convincing you are to get a potential candidate to say yes and join the company. It’s also about determining whether the candidate is a fit, will excel in the role on offer and is available given your timeline and their priorities.
At this point, you will have shared a lot with the candidate. They might have signed a non-disclosure agreement, heard your pitch multiple times, queried parts of your business model, done their own diligence and expressed an interest to join.
In addition to their interest, I also make a judgement on their likelihood to join based on their:
- Performance in a paid audition
- Expectations of what the business needs to be able to offer them (eg must close a financing round of $XXM)
- Appetite to leave what they are doing
- Availability to start
I usually represent these items, where possible, using Harvey Balls
in a hiring plan slide.