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How to use an agency when you're looking for talent

06.02.09   |   Job Search & Career   |   Amanda Musto, Marketing Manager at Treeline Incorporated

In my earlier blog I wrote about how to use an agency when you're looking for a job.  But what if you're on the other side of the desk and you're looking for candidates to hire?  Chances are, as a hiring manager you're getting calls left and right from every agency under the sun about your opening.  How do you choose which firm to use to assist you with your search?  I said it before and I'll say it again:  Finding a great executive search firm can be a daunting task.  There are thousands of firms and independent consultants out there who are vying for your business but at the end of the day you want someone who will understand your company and opening and help you identify that person that you're looking for.  When you're looking to partner with a search firm, here's a solid outline to follow:
 

Build a Partnership

Once you have identified the firm(s) that specialize in the type of professional you're looking for, talk to them about how they operate.  Do they have a team based model or will you only have one or two recruiters searching for you?  How do they identify their candidates?  What type of interview process do they conduct?  It's important to understand how a firm works to be able to assess how successful they would be with your opening.  It also helps to know who they are as an organization because you are going to be partnering with them on this search and hopefully countless others.  The most successful searches happen when the company and the agency have a solid partnership and understanding of how they each work. 

Identify who you're looking for

Most searches start when a company identifies a need in an organization.  Typically if it's a replacement role, you have already identified what the role is and what the requirements are.  However, one thing to take into consideration is: why is the role being replaced?  Did the person in the role leave or did you have to let them go due to lack of performance?  If it's performance related, what was the background of the candidate in that role and could that have attributed to their lack of success?  It's often said that we should "learn from our mistakes," so take a look at the bad hires that you've made in the past and see if you can alleviate those mistakes in the future. 

But, regardless of whether it's a replacement role or a new position, the most important thing that you need to identify is how your company works in order to find the right person for the role.   For example:  Who are you selling to?  What is your average size sale?  What is your average sales cycle?  Is this more of a consultative or transactional sale?  What is the quota for this role?  Now take that data and apply it to your search.  If you want to make a solid hire, look for candidates who have experience within the same criteria and look for recruiters who are good at digging for that information and providing you with what matters.

Communicate

The last thing that you need to successfully utilize an agency is communication.  This works both ways.  Using an agency can be a great way to understand what's going on out there in the marketplace and what your competitors are doing.  The right agency will consult with you about what your challenges are in this market and whether or not what you're looking for is realistic.  They will also be able to give you feedback about the candidates that you are interviewing and what else they have going on in their pipeline.  If there is a candidate you are eager to hire, the right agency with help you close that candidate down for the role.  They will also help you if you're on the fence with a candidate and provide honest feedback about their candidacy.  At the same time, your communication as a client is extremely important.  At Treeline, we make it a point to ask for as much feedback and criticism as possible.  If we're off the mark, let us know.  Not only will a poor search waste your time, but it will also waste ours.   If you're not happy with the candidate that we are providing or you'd rather see more candidates with a certain background, communicate it.  Your leadership is important.  Let us know what you want and we will get it.   Often and honest communication will lead to a solid partnership and a successful search. 

Go with a search firm that you are comfortable with-one that you feel will look out for your companies best interest and will work "with" you to make the best hire. 

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