Case Study for Performance Hiring

There is a prevailing perception in the field of recruitment that job descriptions, which typically consist of detailed responsibilities and requirements, buzz words, and company rhetoric are the primary means for identifying the best fit for an organization and are often used as a marketing tool to attract candidates.  However, a job description is a mere shell and often they don’t include other critical aspects such as workplace dynamics, compatibility equations for the right fit, the challenges of the job, and critical deliverables expected of a top performer.

In a recent search assignment I undertook, a professional firm was seeking a “thought leader”, CAO, for the supervision and management of all administrative operations in an office that expected to double the number of professionals hired.  Some of the challenges included the following:  a complacent staff, an executive manager whose effectiveness had eroded, professionals feeling the pain of not having the support they needed to meet client service requirements, and the lack of essential leadership to implement the strategic plan of growth in the office.

A collaborative dialogue with the client is essential–asking questions that will offer insights into their vision and goals.  The next step of the search was to envision the ideal candidate and create a profile that would meet the unique performance needs.  What should be different about the new leader compared to the predecessor?  A large measure of gravitas would be required–someone who had sat at the executive table, as an active participant in discussions and gained the respect of staff at all levels.  In addition, the successful candidate would have demonstrated accomplishments in the development, team building, growth, and strategic design of human capital.  The candidate’s resume and interview would illustrate a pattern of achievement in these areas.  Other key attributes would be the personality and energy to lead a team of highly intelligent and ambitious professionals, gain their confidence as well as resonate with an executive who is collaborative, creative, and very capable of requiring accountability–a skilled team player.  Given the expected growth in the organization, the ability to help navigate the risks, profits, and liabilities would also require the experience and financial acumen in staying on course and remain profitable.

Attracting top talent and the right fit involves providing a vision for prospects as well–infusing life into the expectations, culture, challenges, personalities of team members, and goals.  Whether a search may or may not offer a large pool of prospects, targeting those individuals whose blend of experience, skills, and accomplishments will add the most value to an organization as well as provide opportunities for mutual growth is essential.  In this case, there were many individuals who had been sourced, screened, and interviewed.  Narrowing down the “must-have” while keeping an open mind is a delicate balance.  Eventually, a candidate emerged, along with a resume that reflected a timely and progressive weave of job changes with the expansion of responsibilities, industries, and roles leading to further promotions–all of which tied into the expected growth and overall accountability for human resource and financial management, recruiting and daily operations of every department within the office.  What distinguished this candidate from others was the unique combination of motivation, emotional intelligence, personality, and character that resonated with other team members in the firm.

The results of this search led to the hiring of a candidate who met all of the performance expectations needed for the organization to achieve its goal and objectives.  The talented leader’s experience and skills had prepared him for a job that would evolve into a career and not just be a lateral move.  While the job description was the same boilerplate used in the past for the position, a whole new outcome was delivered.


Karen Sadowski, President
KMS Associates, Inc.



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