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“Every Battle (Search) is Won before it’s ever Fought.” Sun Tzu

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We’ve all heard the clichés about business and employees: the most important part of business is people. There is no shortage of similar maxims. The most important ingredient for our companies’ success is people, and people drive business etc. Whether your company produces pharmaceutical products or computers or provides a service, hiring the right people can mean the difference between success and failure. It is true that a company is only as good as the people it retains and recruits.If we agree that people are the key ingredient, then why aren’t more companies strategic? Why do so many companies have a shotgun approach? Why isn’t the HR Director or Director of Recruiting as important as the Chief Financial Officer?Last year, I sat with a president of a US biotech company, and he quoted Steve Jobs of Apple: “You need to have a collaborative hiring process.” He also directed me to at a Jack Welch blog on LinkedIn from March 2014 where the legendary GE ex-CEO stated, “Look, HR should be every company’s ‘killer app.’ What could possibly be more important than who gets hired, developed, promoted, or moved out the door? Business is a game, and as with all games, the team that puts the best people on the field and gets them playing together wins. It’s that simple.” 

We sat and discussed the challenges of his business and the oncology Business Unit (BU) head that he needed to replace. Unfortunately, the country manager said, “Our BU head just isn’t cutting it.” He explained that their products were co-promoted with a Japanese company, and the BU head in question was not taking the lead. The incumbent BU Head was unable to direct their partner (A Japanese Pharmaceutical company) to execute the global marketing strategy that had been agreed upon when the product was launched. The power dynamic was too one-sided: the larger Japanese partner was calling all the shots. The US biotech company needed to rebalance the relationship and replace the strategy with one that was more driven by scientific evidence-based marketing strategy as opposed to one that was purely driven by the number of details performed by the medical representatives.

We sat and spoke at length of the challenges of replacing the BU head. I was then invited back over the next three weeks to have other confidential meetings with the HR Director and other board members. Morunda put forward a solution, and we discussed the market and potential solutions.

Our client knew that, for Morunda to execute the search and find the right leader, we needed to have all the facts, warts and all, to create a dynamic sales and marketing strategy to attract extraordinary candidates. In collaboration with our client, we began with the end in mind, and the search was completed before it had started.

When companies are searching for talent, they have a process of discovery. By seeing multiple résumés and meeting numerous candidates, the client works out who they are looking to hire and what they want to achieve. Companies know that they need top talent, but they do not put the same thought or strategy into selling, marketing, and attracting top talent that they put into selling and marketing their own products and services.

The challenge here lies as the feet of search partners. In many cases, we as an industry have poorly explained what it takes to recruit the best talent. Often, too, the recruiter is impatient and feels that they intuitively know what type of candidate works; if they throw enough mud at the wall, something will stick.

The best talent is attracted when the client and partner take the time to strategize. A recruiting strategy is the goal of increasing the opportunity and probability to meet, interview, and explain the challenges and opportunities. The strategy includes all basic recruiting activities that will attract a defined candidate pool. The strategy should include a defined message pertaining to the position of the employer brand.

Minchington (2005) discusses employer brand as the perception of your organization as a ‘great place to work’ in the mind of current employees and key stakeholders in the market (e.g., active and passive candidates, clients). The process of employer branding is concerned with talent attraction, engagement, and retention strategies deployed to enhance your company’s employer brand (Wikipedia)

In summary, companies and organizations who take the time to plan and who begin with the end in mind will decrease the time taken to fill positions and will maximize the probability of attracting the best available talent.

To paraphrase an ancient Chinese military general, strategist, and philosopher: “Every battle search is won before it’s ever fought.” Like battle, success in finding the right candidate for any organization needs a clearly defined strategy. If people really are the life blood of business’s then wouldn’t it make economic sense to take the time to create a winning strategy to ensure you have hired the best and brightest.

References Minchington, B. (2010) Employer Brand Leadership: A Global Perspective, Collective Learning Australia.

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Morunda should be your choice of recruiting partner in Japan and Asia Pacific. Why? Because we live and breathe the pharmaceutical industry in Asia and the Pacific—we’re specialists!

  • Morunda has completed over 400 managers to director-level placements since 2001.
  • A cultural understanding of what it takes to secure top talent
    Over one hundred thought leadership articles published.
  • We hold regular seminars for candidates and clients alike with industry experts.
  • We understand the market, not only today, but where it is heading in the next 12 to 18 months

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