What do you do when you need to work with a recruiter? If your organization is like many, you sign up a few contingency agencies and have them work on the same position. The agency that sends you the final hire gets paid, and the others don’t. The idea is that by getting five or six agencies working on the position, you get a wider search and end up finding better candidates.
In theory, that’s a great idea. But if your organization is like other organizations, maybe you find that you don’t get the best candidates that way. You’ll find candidates who leave after just a couple of months. Sure, you fill the position, but the position is empty again so fast it’s almost like you didn’t make a hire in the first place.
Many organizations run into this problem: high turnover that comes from hiring candidates who weren’t really a good fit. That’s where executive search comes in.
Now, you might think executive search is too expensive. You might think you lose control of the recruitment process by paying in advance. You might think you get a lower-quality search because you’re putting all your eggs in one basket.
It makes sense to be concerned about these things. It makes sense, but I think it’s a mistake to let these concerns hold you back. Let’s talk about how executive recruiting can lead to better hires and improve the long-term health of your organization.
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An Executive Recruiter Can Speed Up Hiring
If your organization is like many others, the hiring process is probably too long. There are plenty of reasons why this might happen. It could be that hiring goals weren’t clear at the beginning of the process. It could be that there are so many decision-makers responsible for hiring that it’s hard to come to a group decision. Or it could be that candidates weren’t properly vetted before being sent to you from a contingency recruiter.
Here’s the thing about contingency recruiters: they don’t have time to focus their efforts on filling any one position. Most of them have to split their efforts between 10 or 15 positions in order to fill just one. That means they can’t afford to focus their efforts on your position.
With an executive search, the situation is different. An executive recruiter isn’t gambling that they can fill a few positions if they spread their efforts thin enough. Instead, the executive recruiter has already been paid, so they can afford to help you set clear hiring goals. They can do high-quality preliminary interviews—meaning the candidates they send to you are already a pretty good fit. When you combine these factors, you get a much faster hiring process.
An Executive Recruiter Can Improve Employee Retention
Problems with high turnover begin with the hiring process. A long hiring process can drive away the highest quality candidates. Failure to account for cultural fit and personality types can lead to conflict and lost productivity. When you’re working with a contingency recruiter, these problems can be made even worse.
Let’s say this again: a contingency recruiter doesn’t have the time to give your position the effort it deserves. Each recruiter only has time to make a few phone calls a day in the hopes of finding someone to fill your position. They can’t even begin to consider taking the time to understand the factors that will make a new hire more likely to stick around for the long haul.
An executive recruiter can invest the time to understand your organization on a deep level. They have the time and flexibility to understand not only the hard and soft skills necessary for a candidate to fill the role, but also the personality traits that will allow them to thrive in the workplace. A worker with the right personality will be much more likely to stick around long enough to repay your organization’s investment in the hiring process. That’s what you get when you choose an executive recruiter.
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An Executive Recruiter Can Find Better Candidates
Back at the beginning of this article I was talking about how the idea behind hiring multiple contingency firms is that it should give you a broader reach and end up bringing you higher-quality candidates. That sounds good in theory. Let’s talk about why it doesn’t work.
When you hire a contingency firm, how do they conduct their search? They’re short on time, so they usually end up copying and pasting your job description to all the same job boards you’re already using. That means they’re attracting the same set of active candidates you’re already hearing from.
Here’s the thing about the best candidates: they’re not active. That’s why it takes an executive recruiter with the time and security to seek out the best passive candidates. There are plenty of quality candidates open to new opportunities, but who don’t have the time or ability to search for new positions openly. One of the greatest strengths of executive search is the ability to seek out these high-quality candidates and bring them to you.
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An Executive Recruiter Can Become a Trusted Partner Over Time
One of the major differences between executive and contingency search is that because you’ve invested in an executive recruiter, the executive recruiter can afford to invest in you. Working with an executive recruiter isn’t a simple one-off transaction where you get one position filled and never talk to the recruiter again.
Instead, when you see how much better the results are with an executive search, you’ll be able to have a trusted partner who already knows about your organization and its needs. Executive search is all about lining up incentives so that your recruiter shares your interests and is able to give you the high-quality recruitment service you really want.
Next time you need to work with a recruiter, remember what you get when you work with an executive search: faster, better hiring, improved employee retention, and a partnership with a recruiting organization that shares your interests and wins when you win. If you have hiring that needs doing, talk to an executive recruiter as soon as you can.
About the Author
With over 25 years of experience in recruiting, Jeff has partnered with small, medium, and Fortune 500 firms, helping them to find the talent they need.