How to Evaluate an Executive Search Firm

How to Evaluate an Executive Search Firm

The big challenges in the recruiting is  that great talent is in short supply and most talent acquisition strategies are broken. Executive hiring managers are interested in ONLY one thing – whether internal or external the ability to not only Identify, but to recruit exceptional talent.  When you evaluate an executive search firm, look for two things. One do you have the capacity to perform research to identify target competitors and passive candidates, and two, do they have experience in cold calling, a deep network, and reputation of getting referrals?

Most Companies Fail to Properly Evaluate an Executive Search Firm

Most common is to go with the big name search firm.  The issue there is you pay a full fee regardless of outcome, other than the principals teh recruiting force is a revolving door, and a bad track record in retention.  Secondly, if you are a startup to mid-cap you really need the expertise of a team that specializes in your industry; known as niche recruiting. Most big name search firms work across all industries without specialization.  while that diversity may work for a CFO or Board role, it falters with lack of a deep network within your industry.

Evaluate an executive search firmWhat you should look for is a retained search firm that not only has the industry expertise but has a sound evidence-based recruitment process management system utilizing Ai predictive validity.    It all begins with a discovery step where the search strategy is built upon defining the objectives of the role and learning what the role with do with the required skills, not just the having of them.

Next is using scientifically based psychometrics to determine team dynamics and thus the search form can then develop a target candidate profile and custom search strategy.  A great recruiter will define prior desired accomplishments in a similar environment and make sure candidates are screened who have similar.  Rather than accepting verbatim the experience and skills required, a good recruiter will drill down to ascertain in what environment and product / service those skills are used in , again further  screening candidates to validate they actually can meet the objectives of the role.

The Job of Hiring Managers to Evaluate an Executive Search Firm

For almost 30 years, we often run into Hiring Managers that say just send them resumes and they will determine which candidates to interview.  Which of course begs the question, why would you be paying a search fee?   You can simply hire an RPO to troll job boards or have HR post job openings to dozens of web sites.  Great hiring managers know three things:

  1. They don’t have the time to go through an in-basket full of unqualified resumes
  2. They know that the one-size-fits-all resume is perhaps the poorest document ever created.  It is generalistic, vague, and rarely indicates if the candidate has used required skills WITHIN a similar environment, as well as accomplishments tend to be exaggerated and without verifiable substance.
  3. Great hiring managers know that professional successful  executive search consultants are good at what they do and do not pretend to be a Hiring Manager who may be a CXO or VP of engineering or sales or whatever.  So why do so many Hiring Managers assume they are great recruiters?  Trust me, in all my years, it is less than 1% who are good at both roles AND those who can do both are very successful startup entrepreneurs in early stage building their executive team.

Finally ALWAYS evaluate an executive search firm by three factors

  • Candidate placement retention rate is far and above client retention rate.  That is because some companies will prefer the cheapest or who best serves HR rather than the client on the whole.  For instance, NextGen has an average 93% in 4.5 years are still working for that client whereas we have lost new searches with the same client to other firms with an average 2 years or less of placement retention.
  • The average replacement guarantee for contingency is 30 to 90 days, which of course should alarm you as the confidence in the quality of candidates presented for you to hire just can;t be that good.   Basically any average “C player” can be presented and hired and a company not realize in under 90 days wow that hire is just a body filling a space.   The average retained is 90 days to 6 months while a very few will go one year.  At NextGen we offer a full 24 to 46 months replacement guarantee.
  • Executive levels with MBOs – most retained search firm you will pay the entire fee without regards to an actual hire or success within 60 to 120 days.   For many they believe you are paying them for their reputation and experience, NOT for their success.

For more information on how to effectively evaluate an executive search firm, download the PDF to compare what NextGen Global Executive Search does to others.

 

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