When You’re Looking for a BCM/DR Resource, Consultant or Contractor

Near the tail end of a BCM engagement, my client asked me to sit in on some interviews, as they’d decided they were going to make my ‘consulting/contracting’ position full time.  Since I’d turned it down, they wanted someone who could come in and take the BCM program to the next level but they wanted to make sure they would be getting themselves the right person for the role.  As a BCM professional, they wanted my assistance to separate those with knowledge from those who read the BCI/DRI practices guides the night before – and someone who wasn’t just IT focused. 

Now, when I worked in the hospitality industry 15 / 16 years ago, I sat through lots of interviews.  Heck, I was the hiring manager for most of the restaurants I was working in (well, later in the career not when I started at 13).  I’d been interviewed quite a bit since then myself but hadn’t done much of the question-asking in recent years.  So, it was interesting to hear what kind of person the client was looking for.  It got me thinking that others might have the same set of criteria – or thoughts – that they had about hiring someone, either full time or a contractor. 

I decided to capture ten (10) of the hiring criteria that various senior managers had discussed with regards to the position and the kind of person they were looking for.  You might find yourself having to hire someone someday – maybe in the BCM realm even – and I thought this might be helpful in some way.

    1. Lots of “Buzz” Words – You can always tell someone who may – or may not – know what they’re talking about when they use all the right ‘buzz’ words.  You know, the words that are used by executives, managers, reporters and employees that are currently all the rave.  Or words that only someone who read a specific article (or standard for that matter) would know but though they are using it, can’t explain it properly or worse, don’t explain it at all.  To many buzz words and it’s like listening to a sort of Herb Tarlek character routine (from the old 70’s show, WKRP in Cincinnati) trying to sell ad space or a used car.  They don’t really know what they are talking about but they use all the jargon to make it seem as though they do.  Know some of the right things yourself so you can spot the difference, or get someone to sit in on the interviews who can spot this kind of behaviour (like I was asked to do).
    2. Experience vs. Facilitation – It’s one thing to know what you’re saying and another to be using buzz words and jargon to make yourself sound good; it’s another to actually have done the work rather than played the role of a coordinator.  Did the prospective person actually do a Business Impact Analysis (BIA) or just collect a bunch of responses and input them into a consolidated report, without actually knowing what the content provides or performing any analysis to understand the content?  Did they get ‘down and dirty’ in the trenches and do work or did they have other people do it for them and they kind of watched from the sidelines; they facilitated the initiative but wasn’t really involved with it.  Nothing can account for real-world hands-on experience.  Sometimes, experience can have a higher grading than actual knowledge because it sharpens real skills that are used, not those that are found by reading a book but never utilized in any way. 
    3. Certifications/Credentials – Does the prospective person have the right credentials to do the job?  Do they have any at all?  If they do, are they valid?  I’ve run into someone who told me about a person they knew who used a certain certification after their name but hadn’t actually achieved it by the normal channels (i.e. exams, courses, applications etc).  {FYI, I did tell my ‘friend’ they should report the issue, as I couldn’t because I didn’t know the person’s name – if I did, I would have said something.}  If you’re in doubt, follow up and ask the appropriate accredited organization to provide a confirmation.  Also, sometimes resumes look incredible with all sorts of wonderful recommendations and experience.  Are you sure?  Sometimes you’ll find out if they really do have the experience they talk about or if they are ‘pumping’ up their resume to make it seem as though they have all the experience.  Don’t be afraid to ask for confirmations or call their references; I would…and have.
    4. Personable / Communicable – What this really comes down to is the fact that they can actually string a few words sentences together without using the word ‘like’ just as much as every other word they say or using ‘umm’ and ‘aahhh’ very few seconds.  If they can’t communicate legibly in the interview how are they going to be able to communicate with others in your organization?  They probably won’t be able too.  Sure, some people can get quite nervous in interviews but you can tell if they are and you can spot the difference between the two.  Still, this is a person that might be presenting and interacting with some high-level people in the organization and they better be able to communicate properly, or they aren’t going to have any credibility with the upper levels.  And let’s face it, not everyone’s personality is going to register with you and you just might not like them, period.  It’s a fact, you can’t like everyone, just as not everyone is going to like you (though we secretly want everyone to).
    5. Understanding of BCM – Is it technology?  Is it just a BIA?  Is it just documentation?  Are they focusing in on one area only or giving the impression that they only understand a single – or couple – of areas, while not even mentioning other bits?  Of course, you’ve got to do some homework too to know if they know what they’re talking about but if you know you need someone who understands the subject matter on a comprehensive level and they continue to chat on and on about technology, you’re going to know they believe that BCM is all about IT.  We know it’s more than that (regardless of the moniker you prefer; DR/BCP/BRP/ERM/BC…).  Even if you don’t know anything about BCM, are they making a great case for knowing what BCM is by including various components and being able to bring them all together to create a comprehensive program?  Or, do they just sound and seem flat…
    6. Guidance & Teaching – Does this person want to see you – your organization (and eventually theirs) – grow and become better at what they do by way of BCM/DR etc?  Are they offering some guidance on how they’d take the program to the next level?  Or start it out, depending on where you are.  If they know their stuff they can describe a quick high-level ‘how-to’, which if they are a good person, can be teaching the interviewers while they describe their action plan (based on what you’ve told them of course….).  You can have a great, wonderful, knowledgeable and personable person in your company performing the role of the BCM/DR person but no one else knows anything about the program or knows their roles & responsibilities.  A good person must know how to teach and bring people forward – move them along in their learning.  BCM is a leadership role (something I personally believe and I’m aware not everyone thinks this) but if there is no one following or growing from the individual, then they aren’t offering any value.  Leadership means you have followers, if not, you’re just a manager.
    7. Not an SME on Everything – This may seem like a contradiction to the point above but it was something one of the manager’s mentioned.  Some professionals / practitioners will have an answer and example for everything.  Granted, this may be true for some individuals but not all.  Some won’t be able to provide a good example for everything or provide a really good response to a question.  That’s OK.  What this manager wanted to find out was if the person could/would admit or show that they don’t know it all and that there was room for them to grow and expand their skills.  If the person was willing to grow and learn more then they could bring it back to the organization.  It also shows that they aren’t rigid in their thinking; that they are willing and ready to learn new things and new ways of thinking and doing.  What one manager told me was that they didn’t want a know-it-all, they wanted someone who wanted to learn how to know it all.  Make sense?
    8. Wants a Challenge – Nothing is ever easy and that includes BCM/DR programs; whether they’re fully established or haven’t even been initiated.  The right person is willing to see the opportunity as a challenge, no matter where you are in the BCM lifecycle or how many times you’ve gone around in the cycle; there’s always room for improvement, changes to be made and new things to be incorporated into the fold.  You don’t want someone who just shows up for the money (not that that it isn’t good…) but someone who wants to tackle a challenge; something to sink their teeth into and build a better stronger program.  There is always a next level to achieve and the right recruit must be willing and wanting to do that, even if they don’t have any idea where you program might be in the overall scheme of things. 
    9. ‘Solo’ vs. the Big Boys – If you’re looking for a consultant or a contractor (and not a full time person) the one that comes alone as a self-employed person has just as must chance – and maybe experience – as someone that comes from one of the big consulting agencies.  The big boys certainly do come with lots of other skills and avenues for you but often, so too does the single person who doesn’t represent one of the big boys; he or she is in competition with the big boys.  Don’t be fooled that one is better than the other or one comes with more benefits than the other.  Personally, I know many ‘solo’ individuals that have access to some pretty high-level people, vendors and suppliers.  Whether you’re looking at a firm or an individual, refer to the points above and you’ll get the right fit. Big doesn’t always mean better; a solo individual can be more than enough to meet your needs.
    10. “Fit” for the Organization – I left this one until the end for a reason.  This point was stated emphatically by every manager, director, VP and individual that knew the corporations was hiring for my position.  They wanted to make sure that whoever was doing the hiring – the ultimate decision maker – would hire someone that would work well with the rest of the organization, especially those they would be interfacing with on a regular basis.  They may not have all the skills and knowledge you’re seeking but they might be the perfect person to interact with the organization and the individuals within the company.  You can have a very smart individual who has great credentials and really knows his or her stuff but you just know they’d be butting heads with half the employees and managers because they come across cocky and stuffy.  I’ve read in a few places that many will hire someone with lesser skill levels because they will work well within the corporation over someone who has all the skills needed but won’t work well with others. 

I’m well aware that there can be many other criteria to hiring someone for a position and there are many things that the BCM/DR professional must know as well.  Heck, we take exams and training courses to prove ourselves and get our certifications, so obviously, this list isn’t comprehensive.  It does however, show what a corporation might be thinking when they decide to hire someone to run, develop or grow their BCM/DR programs. 

Happy hunting…


The new book by StoneRoad founder, A.Alex Fullick, MBCI, CBCP, CBRA, ITILv3, “Heads in the Sand: What Stops Corporations From Seeing Business Continuity as a Social Responsibility.”  Available at www.stone-road.com **


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