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5 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Search Firm for an Executive Hire

5 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Search Firm for an Executive Hire

Judy Kennelley - Friday, May 26, 2017

The search business has a lot of options for hiring executives.  Selecting the right  search firm is paramount to the success of your recruiting efforts.  Here are five key questions that you should ask when selecting a search firm:   

  1. Are you a contingency or retained search firm? 
    Contingency firms typically work entry level to first line management positions.  Retained search firms typically work VP and C level roles.  The services provided by these two different models are not the same.  Here is a link that talks about the differences http://maexecutive.com/contingency-vs-retained/.  Most VP and C level roles are filled with the comprehensive services of a retained search firm.
  2. What percentage of searches does your firm complete (or fill rate)?
    Find out the firm’s fill rate in actually completing searches.  Retained search firms typically charge 1/3 of the fee down (or an engagement fee), 1/3 of the fee after interviewing candidates, and 1/3 of the fee upon completion of the search process.  The fill rate for many firms can be as low as 70%.  You are looking for a higher fill rate and this is where smaller specialized boutique firms might be able to offer an advantage, especially for start-ups.
  3. Can you provide me with a reference list of similar positions that you have recently completed?
    Sounds basic and it is.  However,  not many people follow through and actually call references.  It is important when you are making this investment, that you take the time to talk to references. 
  4. What is your company’s current bandwidth?
    How many searches are they currently conducting and what is their maximum capacity of searches at any given time? Good recruiting firms are busy and should be turning down business due to bandwidth.  You want to make sure the search firm has the time to take on the search and complete it in your timeframe. 
  5. How do you find your candidates?
    It’s crucial that you hire a reputable company who understands the process and who knows where to look for the right people. Which areas do they specialize in? How do they conduct those searches? Can they tap into the right areas without poaching or infringing on their current clients and companies? Make potential firms answer it all.

Do have more questions about how to conduct your next executive search? Let’s get in touch. Contact  Judy Kennelley at Integrity Network, 303-663-2050, to find out more.

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