Hiring Effectively With an Executive Recruiter

11 Jan, 2013

Hiring Effectively With an Executive Recruiter

As anyone who has had to fill a senior-level position knows, the number of qualified executives is limited.  As a result, a search for an executive often starts with a search for an executive search firm. The right search firm can efficiently tap into its network of contacts and save you time in finding the right individual to fill your opening.

The executive search firm you choose will act as an extension of your company.  It’s imperative that you partner with a firm that takes the time to learn the job’s goals and objectives as well as understand the company culture.

You should also consider selecting a search firm that specializes in the type of position you are trying to fill.  If you’re reading this, you probably already have a clear understanding of the specific expertise required for different types of communications — from media and investor relations to internal communications — and you already understand that working with a search firm specializing in corporate communications can make the search go more smoothly.  The same rule applies to many types of specialty areas – technical, sales, research, accounting, even human resources and benefits.  Finding a specialty firm brings more expertise to your search and helps make the search shorter and more effective.

An experienced search firm will identify the target market, locate and contact appropriate candidates, screen resumes and conduct preliminary interviews.  You can tap into the firm’s expertise to refine the position parameters, set realistic expectations, determine selection elements and devise the interview strategy.  The firm can offer advice on negotiating the final offer and can be an intermediary when negotiating compensation and checking qualitative references. The firm can also give you feedback about any reservations the executive has about accepting the position.

If you’re working with an executive recruiter, there are several key things you can do to make sure the search goes as smoothly as possible.

Clearly define the working relationship.  Think through what you need and want and ask questions.  Discuss what you expect from each other.  Be clear about how often you want to communicate and understand the firm’s reporting and updating protocol.

Establish goals, as well as job descriptions. Meet with and talk to the search firm about the goals you want this position to encompass. Make yourself available so the search firm can get to know you and your company culture.  Use the search firm’s expertise in the industry to help you define and create specifications.

Trust. Be honest about the position you’re filling. Did the incumbent retire, decide to leave the company on his or her own, or was he or she released?  It is best to be up front; this will give the recruiter the information needed to make a full and logical presentation to qualified candidates.  If there is an elephant in the room, such as a difficult management situation, then talk about it.

Create a partnership during the process.  Take joint responsibility for successful completion of the search. Move quickly to review each candidate, make time for potential meetings and put the company’s best foot forward during the initial interviews. Give the search firm timely, in-depth feedback on each candidate, and don’t let candidates dangle.  Reputations can be damaged when candidates have a bad experience.

Close the deal. Remember, the recruiter can interest the candidates, bring them to your door and even sell your company along the way. But in the end, it’s the employer who needs to recruit the candidates and sell them on the company.