What To Look For When Hiring a Search Firm
Hiring a quality search firm for your company is as critical and important as the actual employees you hire to work directly in your organization. We have all heard; “A bad hire is a costly hire.” So, how do you know if the search firm you’re interviewing has the right stuff to give you the advantage over your competition in finding and hiring the best candidates?
Process: Ask the prospective recruiter/search firm to walk you through their process for finding and hiring a candidate, from the moment a job order is received until the actual hire. This will give you insight into the recruiter’s thoroughness, network of contacts, and integrity.
Candidates: Ask the prospective recruiter/search firm, “Where do you find your candidates?” Do they have experience with only one source – online job boards, for instance? Or does the recruiter have experience with a wide range of networking sources? Good recruiters/search firms will have a strong network of contacts they can rely on to get your organization the best candidate. They will also be aggressive; and not reluctant to make COLD CALLS to find the passive candidate that every company would like to hire. If the recruiter/search firm can not give you a clear and direct answer regarding their sourcing tactics; beware. It is very important to learn what kind of candidates the recruiter/search firm have experience in placing. You certainly do not want to hire a firm who has never placed the type of candidate you are in need of. A good recruiter/search firm will bring knowledge, information, and value to your company.
Cost: Make sure you understand how search firms charge. Firms may charge as much as 40% of your new hires first year salary, but 20% to 30% is more the norm. A contingency agreement means the search firm only charges a fee if you hire a candidate they presented. A retained agreement requires a percentage of money to be paid before the search is started but your search will take priority over a contingency agreement. Many top-notch firms will not work on contingencies, and many will want a fee if you fill the position with them or without them. Make sure you understand the contract.
Performance: Verify a recruiter/search firms success rate. Check their references. Reputation in the recruiting industry is similar to water…without it a firm will not persevere. Make sure and verify who will be performing the search. Ask how long a typical search takes to complete. Inquire if there are companies they can not approach. Search firms will not recruit from their own clients; which is a benefit to you as well. Also, provide the search firm with a list of companies that you want them to approach and those you do not want them to approach. Be very detailed in your job description of requirements; telling the search firm that you need “An educated bubbly personality who would fit well with your culture” is a recipe for disaster. A better description would be, “We need a VP level individual from a Fortune 500 company with 5 years of experience handling all production for the company.” Bottom line; do your homework.
The best recruiters/search firms are motivated by the challenges of recruiting itself. Money is a factor for any recruiters, but the very best are those who love finding that needle in the hay stack.The best recruiters also love making good matches between candidates and companies. They get a charge out of getting to know people, both within their company and outside of it. They enjoy learning about candidates’ skills and personalities, and about the jobs they’re trying to fill—and they get satisfaction out of bringing the right candidate together with the right company. And finally, the best recruiters/search firms are those who can make the difficult hire and give you the best chance of retaining new hires.