Exploring the Myths

Choosing the Right Executive Search Firm

By Jordan Greenberg, President of The Pinnacle Source

Every business struggles today to hire enough qualified personnel to maintain its optimum level of operations. Now that partnering with professional recruitment firms has become mainstream and necessary for companies to stay competitive, it’s time to educate ourselves on which firm(s) to select and how to go about working with your search firm of choice. Consider these suggestions and/or avoiding these five great myths:

Myth #1 – Using multiple search firms for an assignment will yield more candidates and better results.

Fact – Realize that the majority of successful, experienced recruiters in business today refuse to take on an assignment from a client at the same time another search firm is already engaged on that project. There is simply too much demand for the services of a reputable headhunter to take a chance on a deal that may be fruitless despite his/her efforts. In addition, there are better ways to qualify and select a search firm other than by “trying out” a few and seeing who comes up with the best candidates.

Myth #2 – The best recruiter for your assignment is the one you like the most.

Fact – It is very easy to confuse chemistry with results. But remember what you and your company really need is a serious search professional who has a proven track record of successfully completing similar assignments for similar companies. In essence, your best bet is to find a search partner who can talk to you knowledgeably about your business and don’t be afraid to ask them about their other customers and how well they’ve represented them.

Myth #3 – Your boss or your board will know who the best recruiters are.

Fact – Most CEO’s, founders and financiers of companies are brilliant business people. But by definition their role is strategic and visionary, not tactical or tied to detail. You are more likely to be referred to a capable search firm by those in the field, in the trenches or those with whom you compete. It also makes sense to ask your employees. Your best sales people, tech support, etc. hear from good recruiters regularly. Other valuable sources include local trade associations, your competitors and the Internet.

Myth #4 – The best recruiter probably already knows the right candidate for this search.

Fact – It is no longer good enough to simply know a couple of the right candidates with whom to network. Corporate recruiters must be expert investigators, understand your requirements thoroughly and then be able to take that information to a targeted marketplace of candidates. The bottom line is that a recruiter with a strong network of candidates is likely to have a jump-start on your search. However, if they don’t know how to position your opportunity correctly, sell it or locate additional new candidates, your results will be as limited as their effort and scope.

Myth #5 – The only thing you can expect from a search firm is the right resume.

Fact – Every exceptional recruiter knows that they are ultimately graded on the quality of their placed candidates. If you find the right recruiter, they should be your valued consultant on several personnel and marketplace related issues; not just a provider of bodies for interviews. For example, a knowledgeable search consultant should be seen as a resource for the most accurate compensation data, competitor information and closing issues. In addition, your recruiter should be used as your partner in eliminating surprises throughout the entire hiring process such as the inevitable “counter offer”. Like any other personal services professional, a good corporate recruiter needs the customer’s trust. If you try to control too much of the process you’re liable to wind up with limited results and short-term relationships.

Helpful Reminders

Helpful hints to remember when qualifying search and placement firms:

    1. Network thoroughly to determine which firms are available and appropriate to consider.
      1. Screen two or more, face to face if possible.
        1. Choose one and establish clear guidelines, expectations and terms for doing business.
          1. Don’t pay for fluff. Pay for performance.
            1. Let them in! Don’t be afraid to share your real need with them.
              1. Keep yourself available to them and respond when called upon.
              1. Pay them immediately if they perform. Lose their number if they don’t.