Companies that routinely hire consultants and law firms (and that’s virtually all companies) have no issue with paying those professional fees, since they recognize the value proposition that outside experts offer, right?
To that I say: the skills, experience and valuable insights of an executive recruiter – particularly in a “niche” field – are no different.
First, some background:
- “Specialized expertise” is what justifies the cost of any professional services firm.
- When you are not an expert, you risk overlooking important information that experts don’t. Whether you are engaging a lawyer, an accountant, a management consultant or a recruiter, your goal is to benefit from their expertise. Their specialized knowledge expands your options, accelerates your progress and mitigates your risk.
But before you allocate money from your budget to executive search, you want to understand the return on investment you can expect from the expenditure. You want to be absolutely sure you can justify that investment to anyone who later asks about it (senior leadership, the board of directors, etc.). So a good starting point is to look at how an expert process differs from a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach and how those differences meaningfully affect the outcome.
Here’s a comprehensive list of steps in the recruiting process:
Develop a Profile
- DIY – This concept it not done by the hiring authority or HR … instead, when you look at job board posts, you just see a “wish list” of what they want (i.e., attorney, 12-15 years’ relevant experience, etc.).
- Recruiter – A recruiter spends typically two hours with the hiring authority (a kick-off meeting) and asks a series of questions to identify what the hiring authority wants the candidate to accomplish in the first 12 months. This concept is also consistent with how managers conduct performance reviews (i.e., managing by objectives). Now you have a clear picture of what specific experiences a candidate must have to align with what you want him/her to accomplish.
Develop a Job Description for the Market
- DIY – What a company directly posts on job boards, again, is typically a “wish list” all about the company (all about me, me, me).
- Recruiter – A recruiter develops through the kick-off meeting features about the company, the role, senior management, etc. that will entice a professional to want to know more. Accompanying this will be the challenges of the role, the first year deliverables. This, too, will encourage the best professionals that evaluate an opportunity for its challenges and growth potential to take a look at your opening.
- DIY – HR will post the opportunity on various job boards. This is passive recruiting and can only yield a small part of the candidate pool. Basically you review candidates that walk in the door.
- Recruiter – Recruiters are plugged in and have ongoing relationships with professionals that are “hidden” from HR. They actively initiate conversations with qualified professionals that are appropriate for your position and they also obtain referrals from professionals in their network. Simply put, they go out and get you what you want.
Present Candidates to the Hiring Authority
- DIY – HR presents the best candidates that apply for the job …not the best fit for the role.
- Recruiters – They present a shortlist of the best candidates that fit the role. They review hundreds of profiles, do a deep dive interview with as many as 30 and provide you with a slate of about four top professionals all pre-screened for fit (cultural, presentation skills, technical proficiencies, salary, etc.) Even for the recruiter who is a specialist at recruiting, the creation of a shortlist requires, on average, 150 working hours.
Dialogue with the Hiring Authority and Candidate Throughout the Process
- DIY – HR will typically present a professional and then coordinate subsequent interviews.
- Recruiter – Recruiters are very active in talking to the hiring authority and candidates throughout the entire process. Both the hiring authority and candidate will confide in the recruiter how they each feel about the potential fit. The recruiter then provides counsel to each party. This process facilitates objections being addressed and helps to make sure the parties are speaking to one another’s expectations. Basically, it makes for a more honest and complete dialogue.
Selection of the Candidate
- DIY – HR typically does not have a role in the selection process, or if they do, it may be based on the inadequate profile initially developed with the job description.
- Recruiter – The recruiter’s role here is to remind the hiring authority to make a decision based on the profile that was developed in the kick-off meeting, remembering what is to be accomplished the first 12 months and evaluating the candidate pool accordingly. Putting it another way, you don’t want your client making a hiring choice more weighted on who they wish to have a beer with.
- DIY – HR and the hiring authority are not experts in the market, so they rely on antiquated government data or out-of-date salary surveys regarding compensation.
- Recruiter – Recruiters know fair market value today for the professional you wish to hire. Their information is current and often the result of knowing what your competitors are offering as compensation for a comparable role. Another important point is that after the recruiter provides counsel for the offer, he/she will always float a verbal offer by the candidate. This provides the client an opportunity to make some adjustments that may be necessary to close the deal.
Candidate Counter-Offer from the Current Company
- DIY – The HR professional does not think of counseling the candidate on how to address the counter-offer from the candidate’s existing employer. There is great risk at this stage.
- Recruiter – They know that the candidate will get a counter-offer from their company, and they prepare the candidate accordingly. They do so in part by reminding the professional of the specific advantages/offerings of the new company and how they align with what the professional wants. If this is not done, then the professional is at risk of emotional games played by the current employer, such as, “how could you do this to me after all I’ve done for you?”
After Care (Once the Professional is Onboarded)
- DIY – This is not considered internally. There is a blind assumption that everything is going great between the hiring authority and the professional.
- Recruiter – The recruiter periodically checks in with both parties to assess how the onboarding is going. By keeping an open dialogue, the recruiter can learn of possible disconnects and provide some solutions to keep things on track.
I worked for GE and had the pleasure of meeting Larry Bossidy, a member of the executive team. He would consistently remind us that the greatest ROI a manager can have is in hiring the right talent to build the business. I would encourage you to act accordingly.
Maurice Gilbert is Managing Partner of Conselium Executive Search, which specializes in placing Compliance Officers and Legal Counsel for clients in the U.S., Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific. Maurice is also CEO of Corporate Compliance Insights, a worldwide publication devoted to governance, risk and compliance issues. Maurice can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.Published by Conselium Executive Search, the global leader in compliance search.