Helbling Insight

How To Work With A Search Firm: Commencing A Search

Search for people

As we continue with our executive search educational series, we have come to the most critical part of a search process – commencing a search. As a client, you play a significant part in this phase, which is when the consultant learns about your organization and the role to be filled. The information shared during this stage provides the foundation for a search, and will determine its strategy, approach, and overall success. Being open and forthright streamlines and strengthens the process, supporting a positive outcome.

In general:

  • Determine and share the specific objectives you want to achieve in hiring an ideal candidate, and ensure that these goals are clear among all parties involved in the search process (including members of your team).

  • Have a realistic image of your organization, and the types and levels of candidates it can reasonably attract.

  • Allow the consultant to share their views on competition, talent pool, compensation, your company’s brand/image and how they perceive your firm’s attractiveness to high-caliber candidates.

  • Collaborate with the search consultant on the recruitment strategy: which companies will be potential sources, how the consultant will portray your organization and the opportunity to prospective candidates, and how candidates will be evaluated.

  • Keep your internal team aware of the search strategy and progress.

Information to share about your organization:

  • Its executive team, markets, financial strength, reputation and competition, short- and long-term goals, and planned strategies.

  • Structure, culture and environment of your organization and the same of the department in which this person will be placed.

  • Personal and professional characteristics of your organization's high performers so that the consultant can understand your organization’s ideal employee attitude, and the personal and professional characteristics of your most successful employees. 

Information to share about the role:

  • Primary and secondary responsibilities, performance expectations, and the needed experience and technical competencies .

  • Short- and long-term goals.

  • Specific challenges and opportunities.

  • Employees who interact with the position, and their individual work styles and attitudes.

  • How the role impacts your organization as a whole. This is key information as high-performing professionals always want to know how they can bring value and positively impact an organization.

After all information has been communicated, we recommend the consultant prepare and submit a summary of their understanding before recruitment begins to ensure that you are both on the same page.

If your organization’s human resources (HR) department is going to have involvement:

  • Introduce your HR personnel to the search consultant at the onset of the search, which will encourage them to work together effectively to achieve your recruitment objectives.

  • If your HR staff does not understand why a search firm has been engaged, explain to them the situation’s unique circumstances such as confidentiality, market access, or other issues that prompted the use of an outside recruitment firm.

Being candid in your communication with the search consultant, your internal team, and HR staff during the onset of a search is key to developing an effective recruitment strategy that addresses your unique needs. In next week’s post, we will outline simple tips on how you can assist in bringing a search to a successful completion and move on with your new executive on board.