Who is your key employee?

Who is your key employee?

  • Arnaud Malfoy
  • Monday, Apr 8, 2019

invisible man

You might think that it is your top sales person or maybe your most senior developer. And you would not be wrong. However, ask yourself who found, selected and hired these top profiles? Yes your head of recruitment! This is a critical position in a company, finding the right staff is key in any industry because expertise will make a huge difference between you and your competitors. The best talents have access to millions of companies around the world and are being chased by head hunters constantly, this is why you need to make your company as “desirable” as possible, streamline the entire process and offer the best perks both financial and non financial.

Selection Process

- The 1st step in the process is creating a job description and it better be good and accurate because no matter what you do after, you won’t get the right pool of candidates otherwise. Make sure that it’s clear with several sections like description, requirements, company profile. Obviously, the recruitment team should discuss at length the job description with the team in which the new hire will work.
- Companies usually require a CV and a cover letter. Some also ask for a video presentation which is a good way to have a sense of a candidate, the way he/she talks, body language and how good is the video in terms of production, did the candidate spent a lot of time to get it right with added image, nice music… Please also keep an open mind when you read CVs, I keep seeing companies looking for the exact same profile and they end up with a real lack of diversity in the company which is reducing the creativity and potential of the business. I used to see very different profiles at the beginning of my career when I was working in London and it was extremely beneficial. After 2008, companies started to play it too safe and looked for the sheep with 6 legs which obviously is quite hard to find! The same companies will then complain that they can’t find good candidates…
- A questionnaire is good if the right questions are being asked to detect red flags and increase the selection. Ask relevant questions about the candidate’s biggest challenge, the way he manages stress or how he reacts to change for instance.
- Testing is pretty good at evaluating candidates especially when it comes to technical profiles. Make sure that they are doing the test in front of you to avoid having the test being done by somebody else…
- Getting in touch with references is also important to uncover sometimes skeletons in the closet and evaluate the candidate’s behavior at previous places of employment.
- Finally interviews are the last step in the process. Some companies like to involve absolutely everyone to gauge the candidate (which coincidentally also dilute the responsibility if there is a bad hire). I don’t think that’s pertinent and it will take too long. The candidate should definitely meet with the team he will work with, because there is a certain chemistry to be found and it’s important for each member of the team to have their say. The final decision should be done by the head of recruitment, the team manager and sometimes the CEO (depending how hands-on he/she wants to be on this front, the size of the company and the seniority of the new hire).


Avoid the flood

As a company, you want to receive good candidatures and avoid being flooded under a mountain of CV with a ton of people who did not even read the job description or plagiarized their entire CV/Cover Letter. To deter such practices, a lot of companies have made it more difficult to apply and you now need to fill in a long form (which can take several hours to complete) and go through multiple tests to filter the candidates. Big corporations usually have an online form with up to 10 different sections, where you have to recreate your entire CV to fit their own template and make it easier for them to have a standard CV for all their candidates. It certainly makes it easy for the company, however some candidates might be deterred to apply when they have to spend several hours for each company to apply to. So it’s all about finding the right balance between being comprehensive and going overboard. I would certainly advise you to use a software screening CV/Cover Letter for plagiarism because it’s an easy way to get rid of the most obvious cheaters.



Your head of recruitment should be well versed with all the requirements and technical knowledge from each departments and communicate with them on a daily basis to keep learning and adjust recruitment methodology. I have seen too often the recruitment department being completely out of touch and behaving like an unpenetrable fortress with obscure methodology (or sometimes none). They would write job descriptions on their own or disregard opinion of team members regarding candidates or not consider CV being passed on by current employees.



Speed is of the essence and being comprehensive usually comes at a cost which is the time it takes for the hiring process to be completed. I have heard of hiring process taking up to 18 months (especially in Europe) but on average it takes 3 to 6 months ( a few weeks for the most organized and automated). Obviously the longer it takes, the more chances for one or several top candidates to be hired by one of your competitor… This is why it pays to automate the process like having the CV and cover letter automatically screened for plagiarism. But don’t go too far, it can be counter productive especially with these algorithms processing CV for keywords, which led to candidates stuffing their CV with the same keywords found in the job description (making it completely useless for the recruiter). However you will never be able to automate everything, you will still have to go through the CV, the questionnaire, the tests and the interview process to get a better idea of a candidate. And this where the best quality of a head of recruitment will shine: the capacity of making decision and picking a candidate between several equivalent profile based on experience and ways to predict the quality of a candidate during the interview like using body language, direction of the eyes, his/her reactions to questions, his/her reasoning for solving problems…



Now you need to attract the best candidates. First you need to make sure that your current staff is happy about their work, the atmosphere, motivation, training and good work life balance. Your staff is your best card to attract talents through their own network (and it’s a lot cheaper than hiring a head hunter). You also need to offer perks to your employee. I have heard far too often HR directors tell me that they can’t compete with their better off competitors because their brands are more prestigious and they offer better salary. Let me tell you that if that’s your mindset then you better close your business right now because you will remain in a mediocre position and your business will fail. How do you think Google was able to hire great developers when it was still a startup compared to Microsoft which was way bigger? They offered a great atmosphere and also stock options which involved the staff in the success of the company and they got rewarded handsomely. With great risk comes great reward! So even if your company is small, you can offer a big variable to motivate your staff or a lot of training which is highly sought after by fresh graduate. And then you need to promote it through your website, social media, glassdoor…

Tell me more about yourself!

If you are thinking about launching your business or already did and want some advice/help, then don’t hesitate contacting me, I will be genuinely happy to talk to you and help you (check out my website and here is my email: [email protected]).