Man upset about making horrible hiring mistake

Hiring the Wrong Person is the Most Expensive Hire

By George P. Linke, Jr., Psy.D.

We can all think of instances when our efforts to save time or money ended up costing us far more than if we’d just made the right decision the first time around. For some mistakes, like when you buy those cheap paper towels that actually seem to repel water, the recovery process is pretty easy. Shortcuts in the hiring process, however, can result in a mess that takes years to clean up.

A couple of years ago, one of our clients discussed with us a key leadership position in their organization that had become vacant due to the retirement of an employee. The departing employee had made valuable contributions to this organization during their lengthy tenure, but it was also clear that this hiring process was an opportunity to help guide a much-needed transition as the organization looked forward to the next 10 to 20 years.

After a lengthy conversation, it appeared the client was prepared to engage in a national search to find the best candidate to fill this critical role in their organization. Then suddenly, something changed. For a week or so, my phone calls went unreturned, and finally I was told they’d decided on a hire, despite the fact they had just one applicant.

On paper, it appeared this candidate had the experience and skills needed to succeed in the position. There was enthusiasm at the thought of avoiding a costly search process that might take several months to complete.

The enthusiasm to save some time and money clouded the judgement of the decision makers, who overlooked several key aspects of the hiring process, including the crucial step of developing a job profile, based not on what the incumbent did for the past two decades, but what was needed to lead the organization forward.

Predictably, the effort to cut corners wound up costing the organization far more than they could have imagined. In less than a year, it became apparent that the employee wasn’t a great fit for the organization’s culture and needs. The employee moved on a short time later, but the damage was done. Development was one of this person’s primary responsibilities, and it was clear from both the accounting office, and feedback received from several board members that they had some significant work to do in order to get things back on track.

The good news is that the organization learned from its mistake. After engaging Linke Resources in a retained search, we were able to help them properly define the job profile, and embark on a very successful job search that resulted in several excellent and enthusiastic candidates being brought forward. Their decision was difficult, but they made it with confidence, knowing that they had explored all their options and had attracted the very best candidates for the position.

Nearly a year later, I learned that the hire was one of the best they had ever made.

Costs of a Bad Hire:

The most obvious cost of a bad hire is that you ultimately have to go through the entire process again until you get it right. So even if you saved a few bucks the first time around, the time and cost of repeating the process takes its toll on the organization.

Far more costly is what was lost during the time that your organization was trying to function with the wrong person in a key leadership role. The rest of your team is looking for direction and leadership from the person in this important role, and the damage done by not having that can be considerable.

Focusing on the costs of a critical job search while overlooking the process required to ensure you bring in the best possible candidate for your organization is one of the most expensive mistakes you can make. The reality is that the costs associated with hiring the wrong person often continue to accumulate for years, sometimes long after the person has left.

The Linke Resources Retained Search Process

What you can expect from Linke Resources to ensure a good hire:

  • Developing a job profile and company overview, including research on compensation and benefit plans, that will attract the candidate you desire.
  • Identifying top candidates that have the background and qualifications that fit the culture
    of your organization.
  • Coordinating the interview process with leading candidates and participating in the interview process.
  • Assisting in the decision making process.
  • Conducting reference checks, assisting with the negotiation process and notifying candidates with the decision.
  • Providing a timeline for the search process as well as regular feedback on its status.

George Linke is the Founder and President of Linke Resources. He is an executive & professional search consultant specializing in healthcare and human services. He has a demonstrated track record of placing well qualified professionals that advance the clinical and programmatic needs critical to an organization’s mission and financial health. He has extensive experience serving individuals with behavioral health needs, intellectual disabilities, autism and other developmental disabilities. To learn more about how Linke Resources can make the hiring process efficient, successful and stress-free, call 610-873-4813.

Some details in the above article have been changed to protect client confidentiality.