Insight Blog

Partnering with a Search Firm (Part 3/3)

Partnering with a Search Firm (Part 3/3) The first blog post in our three-part series outlines the many reasons for an organization to engage a search firm. It offers data recorded by Helbling on the most common reasons for hiring needs, provides feedback from clients who worked with our firm, and includes suggested questions to ask if looking for the right firm.

The second post in the series outlines differences between search firms. It compares the approach, methods, and advantages of each type to help determine which can be effective in meeting hiring needs.

This third and final blog post in the series outlines what information about your organization and the role is most helpful to search consultants, and it features advice on how to best collaborate with a search firm.
As a client, you play a significant part in ensuring that the search begins on a positive note and that search consultants have all of the information necessary to do their job. Consultants take time prior to an executive search to learn about your organization and the role to be filled. Providing thoughtful answers and detailed information to consultants’ questions enables consultants to more easily determine the appropriate search strategy and approach to ensure a successful outcome.

The following information is most helpful to search consultants.
Info about your organization:
  • Industry reputation
  • Strengths, challenges, and opportunities
  • Vision
  • Short- and long-term goals
  • Planned strategies
  • Leadership team
  • Culture and environment of the overall organization and, if applicable, of the department in which the candidate will be placed
  • Geographic location and hybrid- or remote-work policies
Info about the role:
  • Education and experience requirements
  • Desired capabilities
  • Attributes of candidates tiered by “Must haves”, “Like to haves”, and the “Ideal”
  • Primary and secondary responsibilities
  • Short- and long-term goals for the individual and the department
  • Performance expectations
  • Anticipated challenges associated with the role
  • Reporting structure (up and down) as well as others with whom the new employee will collaborate or interact
  • How the role impacts the organization
  • Who from the organization will be on the hiring team or search committee, who will interview candidates, and who will ultimately select the finalist candidate 
Collaboration among the search consultant(s) and your internal team members, which may include human resources staff, is key to an effective and efficient search process. Helbling search professionals have contributed the following suggestions for client organizations:
If they are not already involved, introduce your HR personnel to the search consultant to foster collaboration and create the best position description and related materials to communicate the opportunity. Per Helbling Executive Director Jim Lord: HR and the equity and inclusion office can be a valuable resource in enhancing the diversity of the pool. They can help ensure that the position description is worded in an inclusive way that is free of bias and often have relationships with affinity groups who can be sources of underrepresented candidates.

Accept the consultant’s insight on the competition, the talent pool, compensation, your organization’s brand/image, and how they can best market the opportunity to candidates. Helbling Regional Manager Marc Datz commented: From the vantage point of a professional search firm, we have a holistic view of the industry, competing firms, trends, career factors, and the evolving perspectives and priorities of candidates. This knowledge allows for a tailored approach to presenting the client and the role effectively, informed by the ‘forest’ view beyond the trees. 

Maintain regular communication with the search consultant and attend regular meetings, which are usually scheduled in advance and in accordance with search milestones. Jim elaborated: Frequent open communication is key to ensuring that the search resources are focused on the appropriate type of candidates. Small course corrections that are made early lead to a more efficient process overall. Remember, if the course for a trip to the moon is off by one degree, the craft will be 4,169 miles away from its intended destination at the end of the flight.” 

Provide feedback as promptly as possible on the search strategy, search materials, advertising plan, and/or other items that help to attract candidates to the opportunity. Joe Wargo, Regional Manager at Helbling, commented: “In addition to leverage our firm's expertise and successful past precedent when developing the overall search strategy, we collaborate closely with our clients to ensure we jointly create and agree upon a tailored plan.”

Respect the consultant’s sense of urgency if timing is a priority on a particular search. Marc explained: The pacing of process, communication and milestones can be a delicate balance to manage. It can also warrant recalibration as the search evolves. It is important to have a feel for impulse and traction and adjust timing on the fly if warranted and appropriate. Part of the search consultant(s) role is to tune in to, and advise on, these often hard to define factors.

Allow the search consultant to help your team prepare for candidate interviews, including how to best present your organization and its opportunity and how to anticipate possible questions that candidates may ask. Joe described Helbling’s value-added services: We create and share customized interview questions clients can consider using along with their own questions to ensure interviews are efficient and enable the interviewers to comprehend each candidate’s unique skills, qualifications, and interest in the opportunity. Additionally, we discuss with clients questions we anticipate candidates will ask during their interviews based on our in-depth screening conversations with each candidate.

Provide timely, detailed, and substantive feedback on candidates in order keep the search running smoothly, to maintain momentum, and to hold candidates’ interest. Matt Lesher, Senior Managing Consultant at Helbling, provided more insight: Often times, we are recruiting passive candidates who are gainfully employed and/or very talented professionals who are considering other employment opportunities. Maintaining the momentum of the search and keeping candidates informed contributes significantly to securing the right candidate for the role.

Trust the consultant’s advice during compensation negotiations and ask how and who should make the offer to the selected candidate. Matt continued: Being upfront and honest with candidates about all the advantages of accepting a new opportunity is key to crossing the finish line with the right candidate. Search consultants act as a liaison between client and candidate and can alleviate some of the challenges during this step. 

If you would like to discuss a hiring need at your organization or learn more about working with a search firm, please contact us to connect with a Helbling search consultant.