Demystifying Executive Recruiters

by: Sharon LeBlanc
Consultant: Training and Research

Does the thought of hiring an executive recruiter entice you? Something, however, makes you stop short. Are you afraid you won’t achieve value for your hard-earned dollar? Most businesses hire executive recruiters to furnish new perspectives and recruit new employees. Effective recruiting of human capital is crucial to the success of any business. It’s about finding keepers and keeping winners. The benefits of partnering with a professional are immeasurable.

The Mythical Recruiter
Often, clients have mistaken ideas of recruiters merely as under-appreciated personnel agencies. In fact, a professional Executive Search firm is anything but this. The clear role of a recruiter is to attract talent to their clients; they are NOT employees hired to submit names or resumés, and once received, the client can do its own interviewing, screen the candidates, and do the negotiating. In fact, collecting the names and resumés is the easiest part of the process. The recruiter really shows his mettle by climbing inside the corporate skin of both the company and the candidate and seeing the opportunity from their respective points of view, and by reading between the lines. This is a monumental task, and an elusive process with so many aspects to be discerned and evaluated. What are their goals and fears, their strengths and weaknesses, their expectations? Do they have a supportive family? What are their professional accomplishments? How are they team player? The list is endless.

Why Hire a Recruiter?

  • You just don’t have time. Remember, you don’t need to do every task from within.
  • Recruiters provide objective points of view that someone within the organization cannot.
  • Recruiters may be more efficient and cost-effective.
  • You want the recruiter you hire to be unencumbered by other commitments. (So that’s not you!)
  • Recruiters work on a contractual basis with no long-term obligation.

How do you discern if a recruiter has the expertise to allow you to trump your competition in finding, hiring, and keeping the best human capital? How do you investigate the recruiter’s thoroughness, ability to finesse and work with a high degree of class and sophistication? How do you determine the extent of their contacts, and most important, their integrity? Try to look for these skills:

Realm of Candidates
Superb recruiters will have an extensive database of potential candidates. Networking is second nature to them, and they know people in the industry from coast to coast to coast that are only a phone call away. They’ll also be relentless and fearless of making cold calls to companies for hard-to-fill positions.

Is the recruiter’s strength and experience in hiring junior or executive-level candidates? Choose the firm that has the experience and contacts necessary to help you.

What Motivates the Recruiter?
The best recruiters have a passion for bringing the right candidate together with the right career. It’s easy to match resumés with job descriptions, but it’s much more difficult to fill the challenging positions with candidates whom you can both hire and retain.

Hire for Value
The amount of the fee the recruiter charges is the least important criteria in choosing an executive recruiting firm. Beware of bargains. You get what you pay for, and often cheaper becomes more expensive. The experienced recruiter can be more expensive at the onset, but more cost effective, more productive in a shorter time, and more valuable, both in the search and the value to your company. This is because he has a better understanding of your corporate culture and needs, and can therefore work more efficiently.

Executive recruiters sell their expertise and a limited amount of time. They can’t work for nothing. They offer a professional service and customers should expect to pay a respectable fee for it. Clients who realize there is a good fit with a recruiter who has substantial experience in their industry are usually willing to pay a reasonable price for premium quality service. Don’t expect to get the top-notch candidates directed to your company if you are going to nickel and dime the recruiter to a lower fee that barely covers their costs. It causes bad chemistry, and it only makes sense that the best candidates will be presented to the client with whom the recruiter has the best working relationship. Why provide superior talent for an inferior price? Ask yourself: What are the advantages gained in terms of productivity, money and time saved, or satisfaction achieved? Also, good recruiters work from a contract, and require a retainer. This protects both the client and the consultant, and just makes good business sense.

Hire a Partner
Progressive companies tap into, and benefit from, the plethora of experience a recognized, niche-focused recruiter offers. Working together with mutual respect and cooperation towards successful goals, the client and recruiter should be partners working together. The recruiter should be viewed as a valuable and integral part of a successful business. They have to learn all the intricacies of the client company – and there are many! Who is this firm? What is the corporate culture? Who are YOU? What is your personality and that of other managers and employees? How successful is your company? How are you different from other companies? What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? The more the recruiter knows, the more skillful he will become at finding candidates with the right fit. If you float from one recruiting company to another, then the clear understanding of the many dimensions of your company is lost. Once a recruiter has worked with you, successful placements will occur in a much shorter time span. Also, the recruiter will be connected by word of mouth with your company and candidates desiring an introduction into your company will know where to go to obtain it.

Size Versus Capability
Most agree that the size of an executive-search, consulting firm is not necessarily related to successful assignments. Many single-office firms easily function nationally and internationally, while multi-office firms can and do focus regionally. Success is more importantly based on the firm’s adeptness to research, identify and present superior candidates. It is very important to develop an effective working relationship with the recruiting company.

Clients insist on background checks for potential candidates, and the reputation of the search firm is just as important. It can be assessed through client references on past performance. Completion rate and long-standing business relationships indicate excellent working rapport and superior performance.

Traits of the Search Manager
The person managing the complex task of a search is a reflection of your company. The client should feel confident this individual has the skills of an experienced professional:

  • honesty and integrity
  • eloquent literary communications (oral and written)
  • extensive industry knowledge to support well thought out recommendations
  • good depth and perception to ask the right questions
  • determination, problem solving, and staying power to accomplish challenging, difficult tasks
  • persuasiveness

Niche Industry Knowledge
When looking to build a relationship with an Executive Search firm, research one whose expertise is in your market. Niche recruiters target all of their energies on providing range and depth in your particular industry. It is difficult to misrepresent a resumé or exaggerate in an interview because an experienced, niche-marketed recruiter knows the industry so well, they can speak the language, and they can read what a resumé or candidate says or even doesn’t say. Also, recruiters know your competitors, so they know where to find the best and most talented candidates for your firm. They can confidently lure a star performer to empower your team.

The Search Process
The following recruiting services should be expected and performed:

  • a clear understanding of the organization and the requirements of the position
  • at the onset, a written job description, a time frame and an agreement of fees, chargeable business expenses and cancellation policy
  • thorough research by the recruiter
  • verbal and written reports on the progress and scope of the search
  • feedback from the candidates
  • thorough evaluation of potential candidates, including: detailed personal interviews, verification of credentials, reference checking, and assessment of the individual’s strengths and weaknesses
  • follow-up with the client and selected candidate to assist a smooth transition of the candidate into the new position

The recruiter often needs to go with a “gut feeling” which is usually based on years of experience and having genuine intuitiveness. Despite what the candidate may actually say, it must be determined whether the candidate can really be secured. When push comes to shove, will they be able to resign? Will they play both parties if they receive a counter offer? When clients take over the search prematurely to save money, they often are ineffective in this sensitive issue. Finessing the negotiations is a skill that can make or break a close, and almost always benefits from a third, independent party. Recruiters are great facilitators. They provide feedback between client and candidate. When delicate issues surface and delicate questions are asked, a facilitator often prevents misunderstandings from complicating the process, and prevents the deal “coming apart” at the end.

In Conclusion
First, have clear objectives. Don’t pay too much or too little – find the balance between price and service. Entrust your service to a recruiter who can deliver as promised, and who will support you after the candidate is placed. Hire a partner and build a respectful relationship. Executive recruiters are highly trained professionals, and to successfully complete a search is a full time job. Employers cannot be multi-experts in a variety of professions. They need to focus their attention on what they do best, and leave this detailed scrutiny to a topnotch Executive Recruiting Firm (like Marckis Consultants Inc.!)

Call us about your career placement or recruiting needs:
office 905-290-0911 or toll free 1-866-627-2547