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Test Drive Your Executive

Next to your home, your car is an expensive purchase, and in some cases, where most people spend a significant amount of their time.  In a company, hiring a CEO, CFO, COO, Vice President, etc. is, similarly, an important and expensive decision. One which brings huge benefit – or devastating impact – to the company.

Wouldn’t it be great if a company could “test drive” an executive before they hire them?  The world of recruiting has changed dramatically since Linked-In hit the market. The dynamic of professionals in the market place has clearly shifted. People are no longer linking their success to the company they work for, but to themselves as an individual.  Talent is becoming more like free agency, operating under multiple agents.

The “test drive” is nothing new, it has always been around and referred to as “interim management”.  However, the ability to hire an interim while also conducting a search – where the fees from the interim offset search cost – is helping companies better hedge their bets on hiring new talent. This option is becoming more popular with the decline in unemployment and uniquely skilled talent availability.  In fact, this is becoming even more popular not just in the executive ranks, but in those hard-to-fill and highly skilled roles such as technology, healthcare, global trade, etc. This article offers some key tips in hiring and contracting service fulfillment by executives or those hard-to-fill roles.

Some recruiting firms only offer retained search services, while interim management companies provide the option to hire their temporary placement.   However, a firm which offers both options – to immediately fill a role and conduct a search at the same time – provides the best of both worlds.  Imagine a dating service where you have to get married after the first date!  No one would sign up for that.   Essentially this is what recruiting is like, with the exception you have several interviews until being hired.

In the emerging trends of recruiting, the process is getting longer and is, in fact, more like dating.   But it really isn’t until people start living together that they get to know each other and later decide to get married.  This is why more people and companies are exploring contract to hire engagements.

Whether hiring a person or contracting to hire, some additional aspects should be considered by both parties to better determine fit and a longer term commitment.   These include:

  1. Lifestyle and commute – Does the role fit well with the person’s lifestyle? What are the office expectations on working remotely?  Is it a social environment or more formal?  Will the candidate view the company as a drain on their life or a value add?
  2. Shake it up or Fit in – What is the expectation of the company’s leadership for this role? Do they want someone to make change and shake it up or are they looking for someone to “fit in” and fill the role of the last person in that job.   It is important to be clear on the expectations to find the right person.   If the goal is to make change, then the company must give that person the authority to do that as well.  In addition, when they make changes they should be supported.
  3. Performance metrics – People are motivated differently based upon demographics, skill type, geography, etc. Compensation is no longer the deciding factor. Candidates want to better understand how they are going to be evaluated and what is expected of them.  In addition, the reward/compensation system is becoming more comprehensive from incentives to benefits, time off, etc.  All of these aspects need to be aligned with both parties to attract and retain the desired talent and skills.
  4. Values – The workforce is becoming increasingly aware of the alignment of a company’s values and actions and the employee’s personal values and concerns. Mission and value statements were once good for printing on a wall, but in today’s society, actions speak louder than words.  In periods of record low unemployment, alignment of values can tip the scale.
  5. Comfort – Whether it is employer or employee, in a traditional hiring scenario neither party can get the true feel of knowing if they are comfortable where they work. In the interview process it is important to express the culture and it is becoming more common to spend a day in the office attending meetings and experiencing the environment first hand. This is becoming a more popular trend.  This is also why contracting to hire is gaining in popularity and becoming the “test drive”.

If your company is experiencing difficulty in finding the right people or is having a higher than normal turnover, you may want to consider contract to hire for roles which are hard to attract and retain.  It also gives the company an opportunity to learn more about their culture and how they are perceived in the market.  In the long term, this is a lower cost and a more efficient method of hiring and recruiting. It is an approach which yields lasting results.

SAGIN, LLC is a professional services firm with a service line for talent management, development and recruiting.  If you would like to learn more about these solutions or our consulting work, you can contact us at:  +1.312.281.0290 or   Also visit us at

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