By Jim Wong, CPA | May 14, 2013


Choosing the right executive search firm to fill a key role requires more than a Google search. It can seem like a daunting task when thousands of search firms are clamoring for your business.

Executive search firms help you attract, interview, and hire key employees. They are used by companies, both large and small, to help draft accurate and enticing job descriptions, generate a pool of qualified candidates, vet references, and speed up the overall hiring process.

It’s critical to find the most qualified candidates. The right executive can help your business prosper, while the wrong one can be a huge cost financially, and could possibly damage your reputation and competitive edge in the market.

So how do you find the right firm to help you with this task?

Do Your Homework
It starts with some research before the search process begins. Do some homework on recruiters who work regularly in your company’s industry.

“That means orchestrating a process through which your organization will identify potential partner firms, assess their credentials for recruiting the kind of executive you want to lure, and ultimately settle on a firm (and consultant) who can help amplify the opportunity and reduce the risks inherent in senior management recruiting,” says Joseph Daniel McCool, author of Deciding Who Leads, in a Bloomberg BusinessWeek article.

Check References
Contact corporate clients to get a sense of the quality of candidates presented, and the competency of the search firm. Also, contact the candidates that were placed and get opinions on how the opportunity was presented to them, as well as to gauge the recruiter’s honesty, and ability to make good judgments and quick decisions.

Ask Many Questions
Your company will get better results by working with the right search firm, so it’s important to get as much information as you can. McCool shares some questions to ask:

  • How would you describe your organization, its potential, and this management opportunity?
  • What do you know about our unique market environment and its challenges?
  • Are you really dealing with the recruiter who will do your search?
  • Do you have access to more candidates?
  • Who will lead the search process? Who makes the candidate sourcing calls, and who is responsible and accountable for the process?
  • Which companies in the target candidate market space are “off-limits?” Perhaps you have an agreement with a friendly competitor or know another company doesn’t manage hiring well so you want to stay away from their employees.
  • What is their process?
  • When can we begin to interview candidates?
  • What do you need from us to expedite the process?
  • What are the completion rates?
  • How many searches does the firm work on at once?
  • How do they bill?

If the recruiter is evasive or refuses to answer questions, they aren’t the right one for you.

Ensure Your Needs are Understood
The search firm needs to understand the position you are trying to fill — the role, responsibilities, qualifications, and appropriate experience needed.

Your company will get out of the search firm what they put into their search, so take the time to source, research, and evaluate them before you make a decision. The most productive executive search firm partnership is one founded on trust, open communication, and a commitment from each party.

This article originally appeared on Clear Focus Financial Search.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *