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Using an Executive Search Firm

07.27.11   |   Sales Recruiting   |   Amanda Musto, Marketing Manager at Treeline Incorporated

A successful search firm does not just recruit candidates - they recruit the RIGHT candidates.

Truth be told, an executive search firm is not always going to be the best bet for a company's search, it would be foolish to state otherwise. But, every company could find value in building a partnership with an executive search firm.


Let's explore some of the challenges and benefits to working with a search firms.

There are so many candidates out there - why would I pay a fee to find one?

As recruiters, we know that there it is no great challenge to find candidates. Where we add value is in successfully finding the RIGHT candidates. We will partner with a company and find out the ins and outs of who they are looking for, who has been successful in the role in the past, and how we can replicate that success. We unearth information such as sales size, sales cycle, what kind of titles are being sold to, etc. A successful search firm does not just recruit candidates - they recruit the RIGHT candidates.

We have an internal recruiter.

It is amazing how many companies we partner together with who have internal recruiters. Internal recruiters have thousands of applications and resumes to comb through - to build a partnership with a search firm will only strengthen the pool of candidates that are presented to the decision makers. Remember, companies are not looking for candidates, they are looking for the RIGHT candidates. To utilize a search firm on top of the efforts of an internal recruiter, a company is ensuring that they are pulling top talent from a variety of sources, resulting in a strong hire.

We are already working with a search firm.

That's great!! This means that you already know the value of using a search firm. If you are using a search firm on a contingency basis, then there is no harm in bringing another company on - it is a free service. What will happen over time, is a company will see certain search firms having more success than others and those will be the search firms that will stay on. If another search firm comes to the surface - give them a shot to present top talent.

If your company is looking for top talent in a saturated market - what do you have to lose in signing a contingency based fee agreement?

The key to a successful contingency search is to find reputable firms that have the recognition and brand that you can trust. Build a strong partnership with those firms and you will find success. Do not try to negotiate price too strongly with a contingency firm. It will not help you. Never sign a low contingency search fee because you will get no attention. A well known and successful contingency based firm will say no to risky fees. If a good firm says no to your fee you may want to re-evaluate your fee. Remember that contingency firms have many clients and you pay them nothing to start the search. Contingency firms will focus on companies that have the largest fee, the most urgency and the greatest amount of communications and feedback. The key is to commit to your firm. For a contingency firm to succeed, they must find clients that want to build a partnership with them. They cannot afford to work with companies that are not serious about making a hire. It has to be a win-win so make sure you work with the firm not against it. Remember, that you get what you pay for.

Contingency Search is based strictly on performance and less expensive for the hiring firm. The advantage to launching a contingency search is that there is no upfront cost. There is no exclusivity so you can use as many firms as you like and it is basically risk free because there is no charged fee unless you hire. The disadvantage if you don't have strong partnerships with your vendors and seek out well known search firms you may not know what kind of message is being driven to the marketplace. You want a trusted ally to communicate your message to the market. Because there is no exclusivity make sure your partners are strong and your comfort level is very high when it comes to their ability to drive you message to the market. Signing lots of firms does not necessarily drive more qualified leads. In many causes it causes confusion in the market.

Have you found success in your search using a contingency based search firm? What are some of the qualities and attributes you look for when building a relationship with a search firm?

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