Use the Experts, Get The Best
Good management is essential to the health and welfare of all companies; excellent management is the key to success in today’s highly competitive business environment. The services of outside professionals are utilized by prudent companies for high-level legal, accounting and other special needs. Executive recruiters should be viewed in the same light: as skilled specialists who can identify the best executive to fill an important position on the management team.
Although executive search can be performed by in-house human resource departments, employing the services of an executive search firm is ultimately more expedient, efficient and effective. Executive recruiters provide strict confidentiality, an extensive network of contacts, objectivity in candidate evaluation, and negotiation experience and expertise.
Executive recruiters observe strict confidentiality. Organizations with an opening in their executive ranks are vulnerable. Whether for an existing position to be filled, or a position newly created by downsizing or market opportunity, the hiring process must be strictly confidential. Confidentiality can keep competitors from being tipped off to management shake-ups, new product and market initiatives, and can protect against employee, stockholder, and supplier apprehension. Search consultants value the highly sensitive information they become privy to during the search process. They are acutely aware and respectful of their client’s vulnerability.
Executive recruiters can tap into a global network of contacts. Top notch executive talent is a scarce commodity today. The limited contacts of in-house human resource departments can’t compare with the wide net cast by a recruiter’s network. (A transnational search especially calls for the capabilities of transnational search firms.) The best candidates are already employed; many will deal only with a recruiter. They appreciate the worth of third party representation, confidentiality and professional mediation. Recruiting superior candidates is intricate and best performed by a discreet professional.
Executive recruiters bring objectivity and feedback to management. Executive search is a time-consuming, sensitive process. Recruiters can help clients evaluate their expectations, review relevant organization structure and reporting, and define a realistic profile and compensation package for the open position. Search consultants provide objective feedback on the candidates and advice to the client. As experts in research and reference checking, search firms can glean significant information from even reluctant reference-givers.
Executive recruiters are cost effective. The benefit of using an executive search firm can be weighed against the cost of preparing and executing an advertisement/recruitment campaign, screening and qualifying candidates, operating without a needed employee for an extended length of time, compared to the relative insurance of getting the right person for the job. The use of executive recruiters is an investment in improving the quality of managerial might. But even beyond that, the risk to not use executive recruiters is too great. For smaller companies – in which one hiring mistake can have disastrous results – using executive recruiters is sometimes more important than for corporate giants. Hiring an incompetent employee who makes bad decisions can cost a company large sums of money – or its very existence. More than ever before, executive talent is at a premium and can make or break the fortunes of a business. Professional executive recruiters can deliver the best.
How Does a Firm Perform a Search?
Once an executive search firm has been selected, the multi-step process of professional executive recruiting begins. Each step is managed by the search firm in partnership with the client team; successful results require diligence during each phase of the process. The key stages of executive search are:
- Evaluation of the employment need
- Candidate screening and reference checking
- Candidate “short list” identification
The search begins with extensive evaluation of the client need. The search firm works closely with the client to arrive at a thorough understanding of the company, its culture and organization, and the specifications of the position to be filled. Job specifications include title, department definition, reporting structure, and details of compensation.
Once prepared, a draft of the position description is submitted in writing to the client team for approval. It is imperative that the job description reflect a clear understanding and agreement between the client and search consultant before proceeding.
When the job description is finalized, the intensive research phase of the search commences. The search firm engages in extensive industry research and networking; existing sources are contacted, leads are vigorously pursued. If the client wishes, an internal search of the client company can be performed to identify company employees suitable for possible promotion.
Based on research well underway, the search firm contacts prospective candidates by telephone and begins screening interested and promising candidates. Personal interviews ensue in parallel with thorough reference checking activities.
Good recruiters regularly report their progress and, at some agreed-upon point, present a strong candidate pool to the client. Recruiters sometimes recommend the best candidate(s), though the client and recruiter often arrive at an initial selection of the most promising candidates. Client interviews are arranged with the best two or three prospects. The search firm prepares the client to meet the candidates and may or may not attend the interviews.
After the successful candidate has agreed to accept the position – and when candidate and client have agreed to acceptable terms – the dynamic aspect of the search effort is complete. Most search firms “guarantee” their executive candidates for 30 days (contingency firms). The firm will replace such an executive should he or she leave the client company for any reason. Often these replacement searches are free or at a greatly reduced price. Though a sensitive topic, clients need to have a clear understanding of the search firm’s replacement policy, and all fees associated with such searches. The search firm stays in touch after the new hire comes on board to help smooth the transition and assure client satisfaction.