Are You Ready to Engage a Search Firm?

by Sami Barry
Executive search

Over the past six months, we have written several blogs about the tight labor market that exists within our core sectors of construction, facilities management, engineering, and real estate. Due to the talent challenges facing these industries today, recruitment has become much more than just a human resources issue. It has become a strategic initiative that requires a comprehensive and continuous effort.

While many positions can be filled utilizing traditional recruitment methods, there are certain roles that are critical and require competencies, skills, and mindsets that are not easily found in candidates through standard means. In those cases, many organizations turn to executive search firms for assistance.

This is the first blog in a series of posts that discuss: how to know when your organization is ready to engage a search firm; how to find search firms and consultants that specialize in your industry and the particular function of the role; the difference between retained and contingency search firms; what an experienced search consultant does beyond recruitment of candidates; and the best practices for engaging the right firm and partnering with them to maximize the ROI of your engagement.

The decision to partner with an executive search firm is not an easy one so to properly kick off this series, we would like to outline questions to consider to ensure you are making the right decision and that you and your team are fully committed to working in partnership with a search consultant.

Questions to consider prior to engaging a search firm:

  • Have you exhausted all internal recruitment and referral methods including job board postings, online databases / networks, print ads, social media recruiting and employee referral programs?

  • Is it critical to identify and attract top-tier, passive candidates who may not be actively seeking new career opportunities?

  • Do you need a professional with specialized experiences and skill sets - or the opposite - do you need a professional with broad experiences and diverse skill sets?

  • Is the vacancy of the role having negative consequences within your organization and is filling it imperative to advancement?

  • What is the level of impact that the right professional could have upon the progress and future of your company?

  • Can a search firm save you and your organization time and money?

  • Do you know your goals and objectives but are not sure what type of position you need to create or the qualifications of an ideal professional?

If the role is senior-level, there are other considerations such as:

  • Is your organization's senior executive management and / or pertinent hiring managers in agreement that there is no internal candidate who can fulfill the role and its expectations? Are all executive management in support of hiring an external candidate?

  • Are all executive management in support of engaging a search firm?

  • If your organization has a governing board, is it aware of the importance of the position and the value of securing an ideal professional? Have board members been tapped as resources for potential candidates?

After you have considered these questions and you are prepared to engage a search consultant, the next step is identifying the potential firms that can assist you with your unique recruitment needs. 

*Note: Since the release of this blog, our posts on recruitment were noticed by Cleverism, a leading educational website. If you're involved in recruitment, don't miss their article From Good to Great: How to Become a Badass Recruiter. We highly recommend it!