Test Driving in a Buyer’s Market

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With unemployment still rising and the corporate caution light still flashing yellow, it is now clear to all of us that when it comes to recruiting this will be a buyer’s market for a good long time.

For those of us executives who are employed, this is a situation with advantages. There is a lot of talent out on the street, so when we have an opening we can be choosier than at any time in recent memory. Not only do we encounter more quality candidates per opening, we can also control the process since we are in the driver’s seat.

This means - at the risk of mixing my metaphors – everything goes, up to and including, taking an executive candidate “out for test drive.” Since 40% of executives hired from the outside last only 18 months, why not put potential recruits through their paces on a trial basis before locking into a big contract with severance and other bells and whistles? Some recruiting agencies have even established so-called “leadership on demand” services, essentially rent-an-exec businesses.

While this practice seems like a no-brainer for companies that can get away with it, what about for executive job candidates? On the surface, it seems like a negative development in career annals.

However, perhaps it is appropriate for the times in which we live now. Even out-of-work execs don’t necessarily want to commit to the costs that sometimes come with taking a new job (such as moving the family across country.)

After all, even in tough times, the job hunter wants to be sure she is signing on with a boss and company she’ll really like long-term. It takes confidence, but those with talent and moxie should not hesitate to submit to trial runs in the C-Suite. It could be best for everyone.

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Erik Sorenson is CEO of Vault, the Web’s most comprehensive resource for career management and job search intelligence. Vault provides top talent with the insider information they need to make critical career decisions. An Emmy award-winning media industry veteran, Erik served as president of the MSNBC cable news channel through 2004. His experience spans radio, local and network broadcast television, cable and syndicated TV, and the Web.

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