Whether you’ve worked with a retained executive search firm in the past or you’re considering it for the first time. In order to create a positive experience there are a few things you’ll want to know. Below we’ve provided four tips on working with executive search firms.
The first tip is to be prepared. Know what you’re looking for in a candidate and have a job description drafted. The recruiter can always help you refine the job description. But you need to know what you want before you reach out to the search firm. You should also be prepared to discuss the culture and intangible traits you’d like to see in a candidate. It goes beyond the skill set alone to find the right fit.
Finding the right person is going to take some time. If it were easy, you could do it yourself. Set expectations with the recruiter on your timing and criteria. Working with retained search firms is a partnership. Rarely are you going to engage a firm for a single search. They are going to look everywhere to find the best possible candidates for you to interview. They want you to be happy, and this level of sourcing takes time. It’s important to remember the impact executive hires have on the company, they will be there for years, so take the necessary time up front to ensure long term success.
Once you’ve briefed the recruiter, it’s easy to start focusing on other priorities. We’ve seen clients go dark for weeks and then reenage with an immediacy on next steps. This does not benefit you, the recruiter, or the candidates. The best candidate could have another offer or may feel you have lost interest in their candidacy if you’re not timely with your feedback. A quality firm is not going to waste your time, if they are reaching out, it’s important.
The final tip is to be honest, open, and transparent with the recruiter. As good as we are, we’re not mind readers. In all seriousness, we can’t operate at our best for you if you’re not comfortable sharing your feedback with us. We’re an extension of your company and take that responsibility very seriously. If there is something you’re questioning during the process, let us know, we’re always open to discussing our approach and rationale for the candidates we present.
A final thought on getting the most out of working with executive search firms. Many top executives will only work with retained search firms. There is a level of credibility, trust, and confidentiality that makes them comfortable finding their next position. Like an agent, recruiters have access to talent you may not be able to otherwise reach.