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Own Your Mistakes: Lessons Learned

Success brings with it a feeling of accomplishment and triumph that can give you a big high. It can also give you a false sense of security. It is tempting to sit back and relax after bringing a project to a fruitful culmination, trusting the next task to be equally successful because of all the hard work that you have already done. This strategy may seem reasonable, but, in reality, has a lot of pitfalls and can lead to failure.

I want to share with you a true story from our pharma-recruitment experience. It is a story about our team not fully comprehending the needs of a project because we thought we had it covered given our previous interaction. Ultimately, it is a story about us learning valuable lessons from a less than ideal outcome.

About two years ago, we were first asked by this client to help them fill two vacancies in their company. We set about our matchmaking process with passion. We held conversations with their team in order to get to know them better. We explored their company culture and had fun learning about their values and their unique and innovative services. By becoming experts in their business, and cheerleaders on their behalf, we were able to match them with two candidates who were the perfect fit. The process was a satisfying success. The client was very pleased with their new employees, the professionals we placed were excited about their new position, and we had the satisfaction of a job well done.

A year ago, we were contacted by the same client again. This time, we were tasked with finding Business Developers and Project Managers, both in the US and in the EU. We were thrilled because we remembered how exciting and successful it had been to work with this company. We thought we knew them well and that we understood what they were looking for. We were confident that we could replicate our previous success with ease.

But we did not! That time we struggled to find all of the staff they needed.

What we learned

  • The Seuss Recruitment consultant that we paired with the client was not the right fit for them. We should have changed recruiters earlier in the process, when this became apparent.
  •  Even though we knew the company, we should have treated the process as we would any new assignment. The fact that a year had gone by meant that we were no longer as familiar with them as we thought we were! The best approach would have been to do an intensive job intake similar to the one we did the first time.
  • The client had a new HR manager. Although we had several phone conversations with her, they were not as effective as a face-to-face meeting. Making an appointment to talk in person should have been one of our priorities early in the recruitment process.
  • We set up a regular weekly meeting with the client, but late in the recruitment process. A weekly call should have been implemented right away in order to give/get feedback sooner.
  • Because we had found them ideal matches before, we assumed that we fully understood what they were looking for in our candidates. However, this time they had different requirements and we should have been more aware of the shift and the impact this would have on our process.
  •  We should have handled all the administration relating to them as quickly and responsively as we handle that for our brand new clients.

The outcome 

  • Our client was looking for 4 to 7 people to fill the available roles, but we were only able to make 1 successful placement.
  • During our de-brief meeting at the end of our involvement with this particular search, we were able to openly discuss our shortcomings with the client. During this conversation, we identified points of improvement, including the need to have made internal changes sooner during the process.
  • Our open conversation ensured that the client is still a friend. It also allowed us to leave the relationship in a positive place.
  • While working with the client, we re-evaluated our processes and made significant changes for the entire team. More importantly, we had a full team meeting after the de-briefing. This meeting was key for addressing the concerns of the customer and the points to improve on.
  • Thanks to this experience, we took a hard look at ourselves. We tweaked processes and documentation to better serve the needs of our clients. Now, whenever possible, we set regular weekly meetings to encourage alignment, feedback, and communications are in order. Finally, we developed and implemented new training for our team members.

Our final meeting with the client finished on a positive note. Despite not being able to fill all their vacancies, we did make one successful placement – and this, together with our willingness to listen and adjust as response to their feedback, left the door open to possibly working together again.

We are pleased to say that; the client has hired us once more! Receiving their business again is affirming, and we attribute it to our commitment to listen, learn and improve.

Failure is hard (we know), but it is only true failure if we are unable to gain anything from it. Here at Seuss Recruitment we are open about our mistakes and take the lessons they teach us as the basis for growth and improvement.

Now, we rely on past success as a motivational tool while still focusing on our current tasks as if we were tackling them for the first time. We also focus on our past failures in order to improve our processes. Our flexibility, ability to learn from our mistakes, capacity to listen to client feedback, and continuous professional evolution are what makes us the most effective career matchmakers in the pharma recruitment industry.

Written by Sabine Hutchison, CEO of Seuss Recruitment. Sabine is a strong leader who is not afraid of learning from mistakes to provide better recruitment services for clients. Contact Sabine Hutchison at + 31 (0) 20-2900016 to discuss how Seuss can bring a fresh approach to your life-sciences recruitment.