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June 20, 2011
Finding Perfection
Every company, no matter what the size, product, or profits, wants their employees to be the best. Of course, this means different things to different corporate entities and executives, but when you’re looking (and paying) for the best and the brightest, you want them to be able to check off every box.
As a founding partner of an executive search firm, I’ve heard it all. “We’re looking to hire someone who graduated first in their class, has an MBA from an Ivy League University, has two children and a dog, is a wine connoisseur who enjoys fine dining, and well — we can’t say this on the books, but we need this person to have a certain look…of physical attractiveness.”
So while it’s important to take these qualifications with a grain of a salt, while wearing one’s best poker face, what’s truly critical is being able to manage your client’s expectations.
In the search process, our client will start out with various “necessary qualifications” that are mandatory in a candidate. We will then do our best to find a group of individuals that check off either all of these boxes, or as many as possible. What typically happens is that once the client has met what they think they want, and thought would be ideal, for their company and the role, they soon realize that the boxes tend to be layered, and personal qualities are typically not listed on a resume.
During the interview process, we look for candidates who check off the “right” boxes. As we meet more candidates, we come across many whom, while they may be missing a few of the “key” qualifications, we recognize that they’re cultural fits for the organization and the executives they’ll be working with, which, at the end of the day, is really the most important factor.  Most people don’t fail because they weren’t smart or experienced; they fail because they weren’t a good fit. 
After meeting a diverse group of candidates, we find that the client will often change their mind as to what it is that they’re looking for, and sometimes the candidates we presented have wowed them to such an extent, that new roles and positions were custom created for them.
Through search, there is both a learning process and a curve that both our clients and candidates experience. We start out with a bubble of an idea, trying to figure out what the “perfect” candidate is — what specific boxes make up their presentation. In the end, we hope to find the candidate that is perfect both in their qualifications and their character. 

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A founding member of Martens & Heads!, Kate Benson brings more than 15 years of industry experience and executive search expertise. She focuses on senior-level placements within the lifestyle practice and specializes in general management, sales, marketing, human resources, and operations. Her clients include global iconic brands as well as entrepreneurial startups.

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