Backups in a Search are Essential

The notion of “backup candidates” or “being a backup” can imply a second fiddle.

Gabriel Lucas

Dec 14, 2021

Backups in a Search are Essential

But in today’s climate with some of the most difficult hiring constraints ever, backups are essential — and being a backup is nothing to be ashamed about.  At almost every part of a leadership search, candidates withdraw for one reason or another.  Thus, for example, we almost never advise having only two finalists — for if one pulls out, an employer is left with only one option.  But more strategically, it’s never wise to release everyone who didn’t initially advance to the next round.  If your hiring committee is unable to come to consensus, allow members to “agree to disagree.” More often than you expect, a subsequent withdrawal will make that disagreement moot by allowing you to slot a backup into the next round.  So conversely, if you’re a candidate, be patient!  It’s like flying standby: things might not always work out, but sometimes you hit the jackpot and get upgraded.

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