Too many charities expect perfectly formed candidates to walk through their door

Do you ever get the feeling you don’t have time to write a to-do list, let alone tick items off it? It’s a valuable commodity, time, and to misquote one of Parkinson’s laws, stuff expands to fill the precious amount of it we have. But if we’re to cut down trees, we’d better spend enough time sharpening our axe.

I’m often surprised by senior candidates who swear they’re an ideal fit for the role, then turn up under-researched, unable to do more than waffle bland statements. More shocking are organisations who seem to expect perfectly formed candidates to walk through the door and have an impact, having given their (the client’s) time and attention through the recruitment phase. How little attention is paid to attraction propositions? How typical is it that the process is pushed to the sidelines of the day job – often someone else’s day job? And how regularly is there slippage in a process because “the diary’s really busy”?

An alarming example of this lack of the investment of time  on both sides forms part of a very interesting observation by my friend Douglas Board in the Financial Times. Reviewing the issue of poor diversity on boards, he cites the “pantomime dimension” of the strategic debate, where non-executive newcomers fail to adequately gauge the undercurrents of the boardroom, speaking up when not appropriate, keeping quiet when challenge is needed. As such, newcomers last a single tenure and are then replaced by experienced hands. How does that translate to the diversity issue, hmmm?  The result is a double-glazed glass ceiling.

It’s therefore vital to invest our time well. No one spoon-feeds you at senior level, but that doesn’t mean help isn’t available. In his article, Board cites the importance of providing or finding mentors to show candidates the ropes, plan, prepare, have impact. To save everyone time. Researching, networking, mentoring, inducting: all these must be integral in the job search and both sides have to dedicate the time and effort to doing them. Magic is a radio station, not a headhunting skill.

Message delivered.  Item one on my to-do list: tick.

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