The Case for Search

Like all of my ilk, I believe that companies could manage their resources more efficiently and use search firms to complete those hard to fill, critical roles with the best possible talent on the planet.

The majority of my client prospects are San Diego based and believe it’s better to run an ad, spend months sorting through and screening applicants, often ending up in a bidding war or counter offer situation. Worse yet, settling for a mediocre candidate because it’s too time consuming and costly to invest in a critical asset.

Have you looked at national and state unemployment numbers lately? This is a HOT job market and getting hotter by the week.

The candidates you really want on your team are harder to secure than ever. They are resistant to Linked In advances and overwhelmed with Inbox invitations. Getting their attention is what it’s all about. The best recruiters know their market, who and what the players are up to, the inside scoop and who’s potentially available to consider a new opportunity. Top recruiters develop personal relationships with candidates, while earning and building trust. Those candidates take those calls because they know the recruiter has the inside edge. Confidentiality, ease of process and exclusivity strike a chord with prospective talent.

Unlike in-house recruiters, the executive recruiter doesn’t just work on one job in a segment for one company. The executive recruiter works market wide on many opportunities in the same segment at similar levels for multiple companies. They are not visiting the candidate pool for specific roles occasionally, but every single day for years on end. They are specialists and recognized as experts in their field. Their relationships are built over time and not transitory. That in a nutshell is the advantage over in-house recruiting.

I’ve made the case here for utilizing search firms numerous times over the years; and yes, I’m still dumbfounded at companies hiring strategies (or lack of) when it comes to sourcing talent for roles they deem to be essential to their business.

I recently heard of a company that lost their number one (and only) candidate to their competition. The competition recognized that this particular talent vertical is a hot commodity and offered the candidate a BIG comp package, with lots of incentives, outbidding the competition by tens of thousands of dollars. Two months, several candidates and a turned down job offer later, the losing company has passed it out to contingency recruiters who will throw a few bodies  – and many will be the same candidate from multiple agencies – at the job and move on. Is this the most productive way to spend valuable interviewing time and money?

If a company is serious about hiring and desires the best possible outcome, why not consider paying a retainer for a Director or VP level role? Why ask only the recruiter to put skin in the game when it’s your position and you won’t? After all, you’re going to pay the fee anyway – are you not?Are those hires not as valuable, if not more then those in the lofty C chairs? Without key Director and VP level roles, much of the day to day won’t get done, so where’s your value proposition?

Retained search reserved only for C level roles doesn’t make sense. If committed to the hire, the only risk is picking the wrong recruiter. With so much competition, it’s easy to source search firms with great reputations, especially in a local market with plenty of colleagues and competition to support your choice.

The clear advantages of a retained search are exclusivity, a recruiter devoted to you and your search and most importantly, a candidate base you won’t see from ads, Linked In campaigns and within your network or other agency recruiters running the same ads you are. Don’t underestimate the importance of exclusivity and confidentiality to candidates. In a tight knit market/sector, it is imperative a prospective hire feels safe within the interviewing process.

Retained search doesn’t have to take months, costing not just retainer fees but endless  monthly expense bills, often resulting with no hire being made after months of mediocre activity. It’s enough to give the rest of us a bad reputation.Though this client milking is still practiced by large, cumbersome firms, there are plenty of smaller, more agile search houses that are willing and able to get the job done and done fast.

Thinking outside the box should not only be reserved for disruptive technologies. Sourcing the best talent might require innovative strategies and daring initiatives too. In a competitive job market it is incumbent on you the employer to source and secure the absolute best talent available.