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Executive recruiting firms can add depth to searches

Executive recruiting firms can add depth to searches

Mie-Yun Lee

Hiring top-notch managers is no easy task. It can take dozens of hours placing ads, reading through resumes and interviewing people to identify the right person for the job.

If you find your company is having no luck in landing a candidate, or if you have trouble giving your recruiting search the attention it requires, you might want to consider hiring an executive recruitment firm. These companies work to match candidates with jobs, taking on the responsibility of the search and screening process for you. Of course, the ultimate decision to hire remains up to you.

The No. 1 advantage executive recruiters offer is their ability to tap candidates that you otherwise would be unable to approach. In particular, executive recruiters can recruit individuals who are currently employed, whether they are passively looking for a job or not even in the hunt.

Understandably, it is critical that any company you work with have substantive experience in your industry and in the functional area that needs to be filled. This can help ensure the recruiter has an extensive set of relevant contacts to help quickly fill the job.

Outsourcing your recruiting function is not inexpensive. You can expect to pay anywhere between 20 percent and 35 percent of a person's first-year salary.

Recruiting-related expenses can tack an additional 10 percent to 15 percent to your final bill. Since billing practices vary from firm to firm, it is important to get a clear picture of what you will be expected to pay for to avoid any surprises.

Executive recruiters are paid in one of two ways. Many firms work on a contingency basis, which means they are paid only when a candidate they submit is hired. Although this pay-for-performance structure has its appeal, firms working on a contingency basis tend to circulate resumes to multiple businesses to increase their odds of payment. This can place some time pressure on deciding to hire a candidate.

Other executive recruiters bill on a consulting basis, where the recruiter is paid regardless of the outcome. Clearly, you should learn the "completion" rate, or what percentage of searches are successful, for a firm before engaging its services. More importantly, learn what type of people were being sought for the unfruitful searches.

Regardless of the type of firm you engage, it is important to learn which firms, if any, are off limits to the recruiting company. Recruiters often promise not to approach executives at a client's firm for a one- or two-year period. While it is a nice courtesy for the client, it could mean a smaller pool of candidates for your company, particularly in some smaller industries.

Also, make sure you have a common understanding of the recruiting process from both a process and financial viewpoint. You should learn how active a recruiter will be in screening candidates for you. Similarly, it is important to discuss issues such as what happens if a potential candidate is hired for a job that was not part of the search request. By negotiating such issues in advance, you can avoid problems when you are ready to hire.

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Executive recruiting firms can add depth to searches

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