Never before has the statement rung more true: a company's greatest asset is its people. Finding and keeping superior, talented professionals is harder than ever, particularly when you are trying to secure top strategic players. As such, the company you select as your executive search firm is critical. You need a partner you can trust, one with as much integrity as experience.
There are countless executive search firms out there to choose from. How do you know where to find the right one for your company? Following are ten qualities to look for in a search firm to help get you started.
#1 Seniority counts.
When considering a search firm, be sure to ask who in the firm will be working on your account. Make sure the most senior professionals will be involved through each step of the process. The last thing you want is an inexperienced recruiter representing your company. This will only result in a lot of lost time, frustration and possible embarrassment. Attracting top talent calls for intelligence, experience and discretion. You need a partner who knows the ropes.
#2 Nothing beats experience.
It's not just the experience of the recruiter, but the experience of the entire firm. Does the firm you are considering have experience in your market? Does it have a proven track record of attracting and hiring key players in your field? Ask your prospective firm to provide examples of other assignments they have handled in your market.
#3 It's quality, not quantity.
Is your search firm's business volume-based? The more clients, the better? If so, you may get lost in the shuffle. Look for a search firm whose business is based on accepting quality assignments from a limited number of repeat clients. This will help ensure a high level of attention for your search. Ask how many assignments the firm typically handles and how much attention your account can expect.
#4 A lot of understanding.
How much time does the search firm you are considering dedicate to gaining an understanding of your business? You need a business partner with a thorough knowledge of your business, your market and your needs. Not an order taker. The search firm you choose should work closely with you on an ongoing basis to develop highly detailed search specifications that fit your company's needs and the realities of the marketplace.
#5 Confidentiality is key.
Securing key players for your company is one of the most strategically important choices you will make. You will need a partner with whom you can share your company's strategic plans in full confidence, a recruiter that is both discreet and sensitive to your company's particular needs. And from the employees point of view, the highest quality candidates will absolutely demand both discretion and sensitivity to their individual situations.
#6 Details, details.
Have you ever found the job candidate who looks perfect on paper, but in actuality lacks the experience promised on his or her resume? Results can be disastrous. Make sure your search firm is willing and able to conduct thorough background checks on serious candidates BEFORE you hire them.
#7 The need for speed.
You can't afford lag time in your company's search for key players. You need a search firm who understands the importance of timeliness and who can handle a comprehensive search at an accelerated pace. Ask your prospective search firm what the typical search process consists of and examples of how long such a search might take.
#8 Resourcefulness is key.
The ability to find the most promising candidates calls for resourcefulness. Look for a search firm that uses a number of search tools and methods, including proprietary and industry databases, access to third-party research, and of course, an extensive network of contacts.
#9 Effective communication.
A successful search is based on effective communication. You need a recruiter who can effectively represent your company and clearly articulate a true understanding of all aspects of the organization and the position in question. Take close notice of how your prospective search firm communicates with you. Do they listen closely to your needs? How well do they understand your business? Do they act and respond promptly? This can be a clear indication of what you can expect during the entire search process.
# 10 Integrity is everything.
Your search firm must be a true business partner that you can depend upon to be honest and forthright in all situations. Perhaps your best guarantee in finding such a partner is a successful track record. Find out how many of the firm's clients are repeat, long-term customers.