How Do I Select An Executive Recruiter?

Experts in recruitment
Executive recruiters are specialized professionals. They work at the recruitment process exclusively, and survive on their ability to get results in a highly competitive marketplace. Most executive recruiters bring years of experience to their work, and are intimately familiar with every aspect of candidate identification, sourcing and selection.

Executive recruiters are hired to cast a wider net and approach accomplished candidates who are busy working and not looking. Many candidates are invisible from where employers sit, and will not approach a public job opportunity without the safety and confidentiality of third-part representation.

Executive recruiters have the advantage of meeting with candidates outside the interviewing arena where they can build trust and rapport in a neutral and protected environment. They have mastered the delicate art of persuading well-paid, well-treated executives to give up good corporate homes for better ones.

Executive recruiters remove a tremendous recruitment burden from management by presenting a limited number of qualified candidates who are usually prepared to accept an offer. They also are skilled at dealing with counter-offers, and managing candidates until they are safely on board with their new position.

Committed to confidentiality
Executive recruiters understand the privileged relationships they have and are committed to strict confidentiality — both by professional ethics and common sense.

Many employers want to keep hiring decisions and initiatives confidential from competitors, customers, employees, stockholders or suppliers to protect against unnecessary apprehension. Management resignations are often private matters and require immediate replacements before the resignation becomes public knowledge. Sometimes employees need to be replaced without their knowledge. For these assignments, an executive recruiter is usually the only confidential solution.

Candidates also need the confidentiality which executive recruiters can provide. Many candidates are willing to hear of outstanding opportunities, which could advance their careers, but few are willing to explore those opportunities on their own in fear of jeopardizing their current position. An executive recruiter is a third-party representative that knows how to gain the confidence of nervous candidates.

Objective professional counsel
The objectivity and feedback from an executive recruiter is invaluable to an employers. Recruiters know how to advise and counsel management so that the best hire gets made — the choice with the longest-range likelihood of mutual benefit and satisfaction. They can help employers evaluate their expectations, and bring industry expertise to assist with the development of job descriptions, reporting relationships and compensation programs. They can also usually provide investigative reports on candidates, third party referencing, personality testing, foreign language proficiency assessment, relocation assistance and other specialized services.

Executive recruiters help balance the emotional reactions and biases of corporate management. Likewise, the recruiter can act as a skilled intermediary — a diplomat, if you will – to clear up misunderstandings, straighten out miscommunications, and tactfully convey each party’s concerns to the other during negotiations.

Cost effective investment
The use of executive recruiters should be viewed as an investment in improving the quality of an organization’s managerial might. The right choice can dramatically increase a employer’s value; and that value rises exponentially moving up the management chain. The fees associated with any particular search become almost incidental considering the ultimate payback.

A good way to view cost is to measure the cost of a bad hire. When an incompetent new employee makes bad decisions, hundreds of thousands — even millions — of dollars may be lost. This employee will have to be replaced and the overall downtime for having the position unproductive can be staggering. Employers often engage executive recruiters to ensure that such trauma and expense are kept to a minimum.

b. Types of Executive Recruiters

There are basically two types of executive recruiters: retained fee and contingency fee. Both retained and contingency fee recruiters perform the same essential service. However, their working relationship with their clients is different, and so is the way these recruiters charge for their service. Retained and contingency fee recruiters each bring certain advantages and disadvantages to particular kinds of executive searches. Cost in fees is basically the same (twenty five percent to thirty five percent of a candidate’s first years compensation), with the exception that out-of-pocket expenses are usually reimbursed for retained recruiters.

Retained recruiters
Retained executive recruiters derive their name from the fact that they work “on retainer.” Employers pay for their services up front and throughout the recruitment process. Retained recruiters are typically paid for the search process regardless of the outcome of the search, however most retained recruiters allow employers to cancel the search at any time for prorated rates.

Retained recruiters provide a thorough and complete recruitment effort, often involving multiple researchers and recruiters on a single assignment. They usually create detailed reports on the employer, the position, their research and recruitment efforts, candidate resumes, interviews, reference checks and other tangible services that add value to the search process.

They tend to work in partnership with the employer, offering expert counsel throughout the search, and requiring exclusivity and control over the hiring process. The retained recruiter may participate in all client interviews with candidates, all related discussions within the client employer, all negotiations, offers, and settlements. While the process may take three or four months, the hire is typically guaranteed for a year or longer. Because a retained executive recruiter spends so much time on behalf of each client employer, she can only work with a few clients at a time (usually two to six). Retained recruiters will usually present candidates to only one employer at a time and will maintain a two year “candidate hands off” policy.

It is usually best to hire a retained recruiter when an assignment is critical or senior in scope (seventy five thousand dollars or more), when difficult to fill or requires a thorough recruiting effort, when it requires strict confidentiality, or when locating the best candidate is more important than filling the position quickly.

Contingency recruiters
Contingency executive recruiters derive their name from the fact that they work “on contingency.” Employers only pay for their services if an employer hires a candidate referred by their firm. If there is no hire, then there is no fee due.

Most contingency recruiters work quickly and uncover many resumes. They tend to provide more of a resume referral service, and spend less time with each client. Because there is no financial commitment from employers to support up front candidate research, contingency recruiters tend to move on to new assignments more quickly once a job opportunity becomes difficult to fill. Contingency recruiters find it is usually more cost effective to market exceptional candidates to locate job opportunities than to recruit for employers and locate difficult-to-find candidates. Most contingency recruiters fill lower to middle management positions where candidate marketing can result in greater chances for success due to the greater number of job opportunities. However some contingency recruiters will not market candidates and will only recruit for employers.

The relationship between contingency recruiters and their clients is usually less intense, with less personal contact and a lower level of mutual commitment. It is not uncommon for an employer to use several contingency recruiters on a single search, while continuing to try and fill the position on their own.

Contingency recruiters usually manage eight to twenty assignments at a time, and maintain a one year “candidate hands off” policy. They will usually present candidates to multiple job assignments, and often face pressure working similar assignments with different fee levels. Contingency recruiters generally guarantee their placements for thirty to ninety days, but some offer no guarantee. Although the placement fees are usually twenty five percent to thirty five percent a candidate’s annual compensation, many contingency recruiters are willing to negotiate their fees and some charge as little as fifteen percent.

It is best to utilize a contingency recruiter when the position is entry or mid-level management, when filling the position rapidly is more important than locating the “ideal” candidate, when filling multiple positions for an employer with the same skill set, and when it is important to fill the position at minimum cost.

c. Where to look for an executive recruiter

The best place to find a good recruiter is to begin with an in-house referral. Talk with the human resource department and employer managers to see what experience they have had with executive recruiters. Check with colleagues in other departments, peers at other employers or the local trade associations for additional recommendations. Another place to find comprehensive lists of executive recruiters is to purchase one of the major recruitment directories such as The Directory of Executive Recruiters, by Kennedy Publications, Hunt Scanlon’s Executive Recruiters of North America, or visit the many Internet directories of recruiters such as the Recruiter’s.

d. What to look for in selecting an executive recruiter

A proven track record. A good recruiter should have up to seventy five percent in repeat customer business, and completion rates that exceed eighty five percent.

Search results. For each assignment, find out how many candidates will be sourced, contacted and interviewed, and how many finalists will be presented.

Availability. If a recruiter is working on more than three current assignments, you can expect limited attention. Junior associates are no substitute to the quality recruitment offered by an experienced pro.

Performers. Recruiters should be doers not overseers. They should conduct the entire search from initial client discussions to research, recruitment, interviewing and final selection. Many recruiters will send their most accomplished recruiter or “rainmaker” on presentations to secure the assignment, but quickly pass on the work to junior associates. Find out if others will be involved with the assignment and what their roles will be.

A recruiter not a recruitment firm. The recruiter is the one performing the search, not the firm.

Industry specialists, not generalists. Specialty recruiters are more capable of completing an assignment quickly. Knowing where to go to find the best talent, and having the ability to quickly gain their confidence of talent is essential for a timely result. Recruiters that specialize within the employer’s unique segment of industry are often more effective.

Appropriate position specialists. Recruiters often specialize in lower, middle or executive level assignments. Find a recruiter that specializes in the level position the employer is looking to fill.

Trade association involvement. Association involvement helps establish a recruiter’s reputation and network of contacts. Find out what personal involvement and contributions the recruiter has made through participation in trade committees, writing articles for trade magazines, giving talks at industry events, and other prominent networking avenues.

Twelve month guarantee. Make sure if the new hire resigns or is terminated within twelve months, the recruiter provides a replacement at no professional fee.

Recruiters with good references. Validate recruiter claims of successes and industry involvement. Speak to references that can discuss recent accomplishments, ethical recruiting practices, and prove long-term, repeat business.

Premium service. Cost is usually the lowest factor on any hiring survey when employers are questioned on the most important factors looked for in selecting an executive search. The old adage, “you get what you pay for” is true in most cases when hiring an executive recruiter.

Reasonable blockage. Check “off limit” policies. Find out what firms are “off limits” to the recruiter (protected firms that cannot be recruited from). If those firms are likely sources to fill the position, do not work with a recruiter who cannot touch those executives.

National capability. A national recruiter can often recruit a localized market effectively, but a local recruiter rarely can recruit a national market effectively. It is even far more important to find a successful recruiter who will locate the best candidates than one who happens to be based nearby.

Top 3 Rules to Land a Successful Career in Banking (or Any Career)

Every year many people dream of obtaining a challenging position within a great company, but so few of them actually reach the position of their dreams. A lot of people end up doing a boring or mundane job, waiting for an opportunity that never comes, or comes so late that we ask ourselves if it was really worth it.

But a few others climb the ladder of responsibilities with remarkable consistency and in only a few years. Sometimes they fall, but they seem to always get back on their feet in one way or another. They usually end up somewhere around the top of the hierarchy 20 years later. What skills or attributes do they have that is better than others? Are they simply better at the job? I know a lot of talented people, doing an excellent job, but that seem to be stuck for years at a low level of responsibility.

Is it pure luck? Luck plays a role for short term opportunities. But the fact that some people seems to always get better opportunities cannot just be explained by luck.

Actually I think that you can create your own luck, and that some people are extremely good at it. During my career I worked with a lot of different people. Some were successful and others were not as much. I have noticed some common characteristics in those who had the most brilliant careers. I truly believe that by following a few lines of conduct you can increase a lot your chance for success.

Here they are:

1 – Say “no” a lot

If you know where you want to go and you know your value, then you shouldn’t accept work in a field that doesn’t interest you, even if it is supposed to be temporary, or if it “is better that what you have now”. Learn to say no when someone offers you a job that is not what you want or does not show your full potential. Learn to ignore the people around you that want you to be reasonable, and tell you how great position is, it could very well be great but that is not what you want to do.

The only time you should compromise on that is when the position that is offered to you is part of the normal process to get where you want to go. For example if you want to be a trader, accepting to be an intern before getting a full time position is something natural,however working in the back office is not.

I know so many people who accepted the first proposition that came to them after graduation, thinking they will get better opportunities later. The truth is: once you start doing something, people see you differently, and have a harder time considering you for another job other than that which you are currently doing, whatever your qualities. If you keep insisting and refusing jobs you don’t want to do, they may consider you for the position of your dream.

And if you don’t make it in the end, what did you lose? The opportunity to do a boring job for the rest of your life? These kind of opportunities will always be there, trust me, don’t accept them while you didn’t do your best to do something else. So learn to say no, and to say no early.

2 – Don’t get too comfortable

If you feel too good in your current position, it could impact your evolution. If your goal is to climb the ladder of hierarchy, you have to be constantly on the move looking for opportunities. In every company, there are people that did the same thing for so long that nobody will think of giving them different responsibilities. And they shouldn’t, because most of the time, these people have lost the sense of challenge and the taste for change. They actually are so afraid of change that sometimes even moving from a working location to another can impact their performance. They are like a tree, people have always seen them where they are, and nobody can see them anywhere else.

So when you feel you’ve become too comfortable for too long, act now before it is too difficult to move. Scout for opportunities internally, and even in other companies. And above all: accept to take a reasonable amount of risk. Of course you could end up in a situation that is worse than it is now. But every positive thing in life come with a certain level of risk. And the most successful people will meet failure at some point. If you are always on the move and mobile, it will be much easier to get back on your feet after this. I think that is what makes the difference between those for whom failure means the end and those for whom it means a new challenge.

3 – Find that thing that sets you apart from others

If you want to succeed, of course you have to be good at what you are doing. But at a certain point, everybody is good in their core field, and that is not anymore the sole criteria for promotion. When the managers have to choose between you and others, you have to be the obvious choice. You have to become the one that has something more.

For example these recent years in banks, those who understand computers and programming have a certain advantage over the others. Because algorithmics and automation has become so important in the banking field, those who can understand the systems, and even able to build their own tools are the only ones who really master the whole process. And they are still so many bankers from the time where it was only about math and finance. Those who don’t adapt to the technology changes are no longer evolving, and choosing them for a managerial position means there is a good chance that they will apply old school methods and forgo keeping up with the digital revolution.

I think that in every field there is a skill set or knowledge base that is not typically seen as traditionally needed for the job, but that will actually give a boost to the person who masters it. This is because everything constantly evolves and often times people find it hard to adapt. Find this thing you can get that will put you a step in front of others.