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Candidate Derailment: Keep Yourself on Track

Often a promising candidate begins the executive search process and seems to offer many of the skills and strengths employers are seeking. He or she may make it into the semi-finals or even the finals of a rigorous, intensive search. But then, before the offer is tendered, something is said or done that derails the process. Usually it’s an action or oversight that could easily have been avoided with advance thought, preparation, or planning. Such candidates cost themselves and potential employers unnecessary time, energy, and money.

Here are some of the most common causes:

  1. Resume gaps. Incomplete CVs that are missing basic contact data or dates of employment short-circuit the process before it begins. Resumes should list exact dates and locations of employment and specific job responsibilities for each position held.

  2. Honest communication. A break in employment or termination does not necessarily disqualify a candidate, but not being forthright about it does.

  3. Family buy-in. Conversations about relocation should take place early in the process. Candidates assuming they can cross that bridge when they come to it, often are greeted with an unpleasant surprise. It is best to ensure everyone is on the same page from the outset.

  4. Availability. While search firms understand and respect candidate's current position, failing to reply to emails in a timely manner or have sufficient availability for calls and interviews makes an efficient search process difficult to impossible.

Serious candidates can position themselves for success by dressing conservatively and appropriately; not over-disclosing reasons for leaving or about specific differences with former presidents or supervisors; and being courteous to search firms and potential employers.