Completing critical hires through the COVID Pandemic

Catherine Dibble, Senior Delivery Consultant at Miramar Global, outlines how the business has ensured clients and candidates are able to successfully conclude recruitment processes during a lockdown.

Having spent rather longer in the executive search industry than I like to admit, it’s undeniable that technology has enabled significant changes in the search process over the last two decades. However, even for a search firm with as global a client base as Miramar, the importance of clients and candidates meeting each other, in person, prior to offer, has always been a given.

On this basis, the fact that Miramar has now successfully concluded several searches which were started since Covid19 and the onset of global lockdowns, is significant. These are our first searches where candidates have not met, face to face, any of the hiring managers or their teams, prior to offer and acceptance. Although the searches have been in different markets and locations, there are common themes.

When meeting personally there are physical cues which we all take as a way of building collaboration and rapport. Video calls do not completely remove this, but both candidates and clients need additional touch points to build reassurance. Candidates in particular, need a sense not only of the individuals that they will be working with, but also of the culture. To achieve this, we have worked closely with broader groups within clients to provide much more interaction as part of the candidate journey. This in turn, has allowed our customers to build a richer picture of the person they are considering. In our work on behalf of a leading automotive lubricants business we widened our referencing process, providing the client with detailed 360 degree references and psychometric assessments for all shortlisted candidates so they were able to swiftly proceed to a decision and offer. Similarly, in our work on behalf of a global technology and services business, we encouraged additional engagement for the leading candidates with the broader leadership group, outside of those in the candidates’ direct team, in order to improve their understanding of the corporate culture, and have enough time over VC to build an instinctive impression that is usually created within a fraction of the time when face to face.

Apart from the inability for clients and candidates to meet during the lockdowns, the wider economic uncertainty is creating natural reticence among candidates, even on searches where the individuals have met in person. In order to mitigate this, we find that clients, keen not to lose the opportunity to hire the best talent, are showing flexibility in their standard onboarding terms, such as removing probation periods and setting fixed term guarantees. We have found this particularly helpful in recruiting sales professionals, who are concerned that the critical first six months in a new role will be constrained by travel restrictions.

It is clear that recruiting in Covid-19 represents a genuine logistical, practical and emotional challenge for both hiring managers and candidates as well as for their executive search partners. However, it is possible with a flexible approach, to build mutual reassurance, so that searches can be concluded successfully and neither side loses the opportunity presented.


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