Hiring an executive search consultant is a waste of time. I’ve had that comment made to me several times so it requires some response.
The process to conduct a search will vary based on the objectives of the consultant. Does that sound right? After all, shouldn’t the process depend on the objectives of the client?
- So why do the executive search consultant’s objectives seem paramount?
- Perhaps that is due to the impressions that clients have of recruiters.
- Aren’t they head-hunters, out for a quick placement and payment?
- And perhaps that’s why business owners are reluctant (and sometimes afraid) to engage with a professional executive search consultant!
- That’s often what I hear from others who are not recruiters. I have to admit that this impression can often be challenging to overcome, especially when I first meet with a client.
Why Is An Executive Search Necessary?
Let’s pause for a moment and consider why it is important to develop an executive search process that considers the client’s objectives as paramount.
Why does the client need to engage with a consultant to conduct an executive search?
- Perhaps ownership needs an outside perspective on understanding the right fit for an executive for the position.
- Perhaps prior efforts to retain an executive have not been successful (meaning that the executive did not achieve desired performance objectives, and/or the executive did not fit well within the client’s organization.)
- Perhaps ownership wants to ensure that the process to conduct the search involves key members of the organization’s management team and identifies key attributes for a new executive that ownership knows are important for the success of both the organization and the new executive.
- Perhaps ownership understands that an effective recruitment needs to identify the past, present, and future direction of the company as well as understanding how the mission, vision, values, goals, and culture of the company are vital to incorporate into a search process – and ownership understands that an effective recruitment will require an outside, professional perspective and assistance in developing a profile of the company and of the candidates for the search process.
A Simple Process?
I’ve performed countless searches and have talked to numerous business owners about their executive level requirements. Clearly the process to recruit and retain people for key business positions requires more than a simple process where the recruiter dips into their bag of applicants, presents these to their client, gets the placement, and then gets paid. All in a week or two of work – right?
Well, not really. It’s these type of job placements that contribute to a new client contacting me and asking if I can do a search, since the prior search resulted in the new employee not lasting even 2 months!
What’s In A Search?
As suggested previously an effective search takes time to develop an effective understanding and profile of the client company and a profile of the executive who will be hired. Let’s breakdown several of the components to understand this better.
- Company profile – developing an effective company profile requires a sound understanding and appreciation of the company’s mission, vision, values, goals, and culture. It further requires understanding company’s decision process, its financial strengths and weaknesses, its operational procedures, as well as how the talent within the company is hired, motivated and managed.
- Position profile – developing an effective position profile requires a thorough understanding of the requirements for the executive’s decision-making, values, and behaviors. Additionally, a position profile needs an elaboration of the type and kind of person who will be able to successfully integrate into the company’s environment and culture.
- Talent assessment – based on the position profile it is important to develop a benchmark profile for the position so that all applicants can be assessed against the profile. The talent assessment should measure defined behaviors, values, and decision-making talents that are agreed-upon metrics for candidates to be screened against.
- Reference checks – applicants will almost always provide references from prior employers that are going to be positive. So why should references even be contacted? They should be interviewed by the recruiter in detail, having an in-depth discussions on a finalist’s decision-making strengths and weaknesses as well as other detailed discussions relating the finalist’s capability in performing the position.
- Placement Guarantee – this component intends to assure the client that the recruiter has confidence in the selected candidate. For instance, if a candidate does not work out in a specified time, the recruiter finds a replacement for no additional charge. (I realize this may be controversial, however remember that it holds the recruiter accountable and provides greater assurance to the client, the latter being the most important factor in the search).
- Interviews – Some may say there can never be enough interviews. In my view it is more about quality, not quantity.
Searching For A Executive Search Consultant
So, is hiring an executive search consultant a waste of time? Simply put, if you are an owner and have decided you need an executive recruiter, do your due diligence. Hopefully, these suggestions can help you narrow your search.