Selecting a head hunter

By Terry Thompson & Jay Kipps

Without a doubt, the most poorly performed function by managers and CEOs  is the recruiting and screening of candidates.

Why is this? Most likely, it’s because the vast majority of managers view recruitment and screening  as a major inconvenience.  Many will even choose to keep poor to mediocre employees rather than go through the “pain” of having to find someone to replace them.  Perhaps you fall into this category. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. The good news is this process doesn’t have to be as “painful” as one thinks.  The even better news is that for those who choose to do the process properly,  their most common reaction after is  “why didn’t I do it sooner!”

As mentioned in our last article, we used recruiting firms to source and perform the initial screening of candidates.  It was our experience that the proper recruiting firm was worth every penny they charged in the time and effort it saved our company.  The key is to find the right recruiting firm for the position being filled.

The common mistakes that most people make when choosing a recruiting firm include:

  1. Failing to properly perform due diligence when choosing the recruiting firm.
  2. Relying entirely on the recruiting firm to complete all of the screening procedures with minimal involvement on the part of the person doing the hiring.

We will discuss the first and second points in more detail in this article. The next article will discuss the third point.

Due Diligence

You should be as diligent in choosing your recruiting firm (and probably even more so when you consider the importance of what they are doing) as you would  a new employee.

Key items to consider in selecting the recruiting firm:

  1. Do they have a track record of successful hires in the last 6 to 12 months for the position you are recruiting for?
  2. Is their work well supported by references that you can trust?
  3. How well networked are their recruiters? (Blind searching on LinkedIn doesn’t count.  Attracting passive candidates to your organization will require well networked recruiters.)

What procedures do they follow to recruit and screen candidates?  Do these include:

  1. Taking the time to speak with you and others within your organization, if appropriate, to determine the job description, skill set requirements and culture of the organization?
  2. Having well-qualified people doing the actual recruiting and screening of the candidates?
  3. Contacting people who are currently employed and not actively looking?
  4. Effective marketing activities (which naturally will be more involved the more senior the position)?
  5. Effective screening procedures including interviews and reference checking?

Don’t just take their word for it! Confirm that the firm operates as represented with the references provided!

Contingency vs. Retained Firms

If you complete the proper due diligence, it should not matter whether the firm is contingency or retained. Retained firm will normally charge 1/3 up-front, 1/3 part way through and 1/3 when the person is hired. Both types of firms should succeed if you checked them out properly.  It has been our experience that, particularly for important management positions, the retained firms offer a more thorough and disciplined process. That said, some people may be swayed toward contingency firms because of the deferred payment.  With all being equal, one firm over the other shouldn’t make a difference but it is a foolish decision to choose a contingency firm who does not check out as well as a retained one simply because of the method of payment.

In the next article we will discuss what your involvement in the hiring process should be.

Should you have any questions or feedback regarding the content of this article please email us at Terry Thompson at tesh@shaw.ca  or  Jason Kipps at JasonKipps@gmail.com  ©