How a Search Partner Can Help You Translate Candidate Speak

In the world of executive recruiting, clients often gauge your value as a search partner based on experience, network, and domain expertise. However, there are other unique skills that a search partner can provide. These skills can make the difference in the success of the search.

One such skill is the ability to effectively play translator between candidate and client. We are often asked to translate the true meaning behind a candidate’s broad and sometimes bold statements during the interview process. For instance, when a candidate tells a recruiter and/or client that they “are open to exploring new opportunities” it can mean a lot of things. It could mean that they are truly evaluating options, just testing the waters, or actively looking and involved in other interview processes. This can make clients wonder if it’s worth the time to invest in the candidate.

While we don’t have magic pixie dust (not all the time, at least :) ), we do build strong relationships with each potential candidate that allow us to ask deeper questions and gauge the proper next steps. We ensure that the client’s message about their position’s scope, value, and growth is exactly in line with the candidate’s claim for what’s next in their career.

During the interview process, candidates and clients are politely playing the professional dance when answering one another’s questions. Our job is to translate for both parties. When the meaning is not obvious, it can lead to interpretation and assumptions which cause trouble for the search.

Here are a few examples of a candidate’s potential response to the question “Why are you looking to explore a new position?” and our translations:

“I’m looking for a cultural change”

Translation: Their current culture may be toxic; there may be decisions being made that they do not agree with; their specialty may not be seen as a key instrument for growth in the company and/or not a strategy focus (despite the company saying it is); or there may be little room for advancement.

“I’m looking to be closer to the business or the product”

Translation: They are not seeing the executive sponsorship that would allow them to be closer to the business or working directly to impact the product roadmap. In a CISO’s case, they have a very unique view of the company’s coveted assets; code and data. Because of their view of how things flow, they are looking to add more value to the business in their next challenge.

“I’m looking for the ability to grow and/or mentor a team”

Translation: They are ready to build/manage a team and/or this was promised in their current role, but it stalled or didn’t happen. This could be an up-and-comer who has not been offered the opportunity to manage a team but feels that they are ready or it could be a more tenured candidate who acquired a team (instead of building one) or had a more substantial team in the past and is now a high-paid individual contributor.

“I’m looking for the ability to drive a full strategy/program”

Translation: They were brought in for some specific technical skill or architecture purpose but have not had the opportunity to build the company’s overall security strategy and/or program.  They may have been involved in a small portion, but got a taste of running the full program and want this in their next position.

Please let us know if we can help translate for you.