A typical executive search usually takes a few months from start to finish with key steps throughout the process. As the committee does its work, it’s important to communicate the status of the process to key stakeholders and applicants. It may seem simple, but many organizations skip these basic steps. And when you don’t share your progress, both candidates and your board can be left feeling that the process is cold and disorganized.
Communicating with Internal/Organizational Stakeholders
In many instances, the search committee is responsible for providing updates to the board, staff and other stakeholders. Updates should focus on progress: what has been done and what are next steps. To respect the confidentiality of the applicants, names should NOT be included in updates, especially during the first few phases of the process.
Communicating with Applicants
Applicants also need to be informed on the progress of the search. That responsibility typically falls to your executive search consultant or firm. To set expectations from the start, you can include a point of contact information and expected timeline right in the vacancy announcement.
Organizations should also inform applicants when they have been eliminated from the process. An email is fine when you have a large pool of applicants to manage. If you are further along in the process, possibly after the first round of interviews, a personal phone call is more appropriate and respectful. Applicants will appreciate the quality and timeliness of your communication.
Transparency Builds Trust
By establishing a process of communications, you can also quickly let people know if a next step is delayed for some reason. This helps everyone trust the process and adjust expectations.
Effective communication will positively impact the experience for your applicants, board, staff and other key stakeholders. It communicates to your community and all parties that your board understands how critical your leadership transition is and how much you value their contributions to the process.