How to Search for an Executive

Yulia Timofeeva
Head of Marketing, Outsourcing Division
BDO Russia

The more responsibility a vacancy has, the more difficult it is to find a good employee, even in the middle management category, not to mention executive management. Headhunting practice shows that even the ideal candidate — the Oxford University graduate — cannot necessarily be invited by the employer. The references from one company to another vary and are very individual. The employee decision cannot be fully explained by the personal qualities of a particular candidate.

Causes for refusal of a candidate by a company are different in each case. For example, the adaptation to specifics of the type of business, the possibility of one candidate to combine several duties simultaneously, and conformity of the candidate to the corporate culture of the company all play a role in whether a candidate will be offered a position, regardless of his educational background. The decision of whether or not he will be hired may be made exclusively on the basis of his answers, not by means the candidate can always understand, regardless of whether he was liked by the company or not. Long and productive conversations lasting 1 1/2 hours with shareholders can be simply a matter of interest and may not have any influence on whether he will be hired at all. So the process of making the right choice is not only difficult for a candidate, it is also difficult for the company. This is especially true when finding a top candidate for a foreign company with a regional office in Russia.

Finding the right candidate is a creative process that demands time, as the expatriate general director should know, not only on the basis of Russian legislation, but also for the candidate to be ready to adequately perceive the Russian business surroundings. For the foreign citizen it might be enfant terrible. In this sense, many companies make the decision to outsource several functions (accounting, payroll, human resources, etc.), which gives them the chance not to think of the "creative process of hiring an executive manager." Other companies also make the decision to control business from the headquarters directly and to make functions of the general director more nominal. Today a number of companies on the market even offer such services as a "management service" or "nominal director service," which grants an individual — or a legal entity for its appointment to certain positions — with limited duties and access to confidential information about the business.

Nevertheless, those companies that try to choose the best candidate as a rule create the perfect conditions for working and living in Russia. Also they are ready to solve questions not only concerning employment but are also ready to go through the difficulties of the Russian bureaucratic system.