A couple of my clients are on the look-out for candidates in both new and existing posts and at senior and junior levels. Here are some pointers on ensuring that your recruitment process goes smoothly and that you make the right choice:

Business aims? It should go without saying that there should already be a clear business plan that indicates your overall aims and strategy so that when the new person arrives they have a context within which to develop an effective marketing, sales and relationship management plan. Otherwise, they will have to invest time in helping you to develop such a plan before their efforts can be directed at the right markets and services.

Partnership expectations? In a partnership environment, there is sometimes a danger that partners will expect the new recruit (especially if on a high salary) to solve everything without the partners having to do anything. Encourage the partners to articulate what they actually expect the candidate to do and produce (and by when) and their vision of a successful appointment. Make sure that they know that the arrival of a senior candidate in a new role is likely to take more of their time rather than less.

Professional services experience? Whilst there are many advantages in having someone who is familiar with and experienced in working in a partnership environment and knows the vagaries of the professional services market, as the markets undergo further deregulation and change there is an increasing tendency to seek candidates from mainstream B2B and B2C environments. However, many marketers from non-professional services environments may be used to having access to substantial financial and human resources as well as a high degree of sophistication in information and knowledge systems.

Job specification? The job specification – as well as helping the agencies find the right people – will also act as an advertisement for your firm and the role. Provide a bit of background information about the firm, try to summarise the main outcomes expected and if it is a general role separate out the day to day activities into the various marketing planning, marketing communications, new business development and relationship management responsibilities. You should also indicate to whom they report and also whether they will have control of any reportees. If you are seeking to recruit someone who is predominantly in a sales and account management role you may need a substantially different job and person spec and also a different recruitment agency.

Person specification? As well as indicating what qualifications, marketing/business development expertise and sector experience the ideal person should have, try to outline any other attributes that will be important in terms of the role and their cultural fit within the organisation.

Qualifications? While you will be primarily concerned with a candidate’s ability to do the job and produce the expected results, you should consider the extent to which you want them qualified and in what. Is a business or marketing degree required? How important are professional qualifications such as Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM)? Do they need expertise in new methods – for example, a digital marketing qualification? If it is a sales role, what level of sales training must they have? If you want them to coach others, do they need to be qualified coaches?

International experience? Increasingly, firms and roles have international markets. Whilst languages might not be an issue, knowledge of and experience in overseas markets might be a requirement. Some firms have much greater cultural diversity than others.

Competency based questions and assessments? If you have access to HR expertise they may help you develop competency based questions and provide tools to undertake psychological assessments. You may want to set some preparatory work or tasks that demonstrate the candidate’s ability to do the job – quite a few firms will request projects and presentations from senior level candidates.

Reward package? Contract? Whilst predominantly marketing folk will be looking at a basic salary and the benefits package, those with more sales and accountant management roles may consider commission packages. If this is the case then you will need to have an idea on what income targets they will be expected to achieve and how commissions might be calculated and paid. There might need to be some non-standard elements in the employment contract relating to confidentiality, restrictive covenants (competitors) and probationary and remuneration. Post LSA, senior candidates may be looking to partnership status or equivalent.

Right agency? There are lots of recruitment agencies and head hunters who specialise in marketing and business development (sales and account management) staff. There are also agencies who specialise in professional services marketing. For senior level appointments in the professions, I have successfully used:

Giles Taylor http://www.leightontaylor.co.uk/

Victoria Capsey http://www.resourcesgroup.com/content/uk_splash.asp

Nick Root http://www.cartermurray.com/

Tim Skipper http://www.firstcounsel.com/ (Legal sector)

Assessing candidates? To help you sift through the CVs and to guide discussions at interview, create a list of the key experiences, skills and attributes and the main strengths and weaknesses of each candidate. It will make it easier to compare the options. If you have no experience in recruitment marketing and BD staff see if you can get someone to join you for the interviews to help assess their technical expertise.

Decision making process? Whilst you will have an idea of who will be involved in the screening and interviewing of candidates, you should decide in advance who will make the final decision and how many Board members or partners will want to meet the candidate before an offer is made.

Forums? For more junior positions, you might do well to post an advertisement on the job boards of the two leading associations for marketers in the professions: