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Hiring is not an Individual Sport

The number one goal in any company’s recruiting effort is to fill their open position with the right candidate in a timely manner. This goes for the hiring manager, the talent acquisition team, the executive recruiter, and of course the candidate. Yet it often seems that some or all of these parties disrupt the effort rather than work in alignment to achieve the common goal. Speed and accuracy are of the utmost importance, so here are a few things to consider, particularly when working with an executive recruiter.

Do your homework

When searching for the right executive search firm, it’s important to do your research. While a generalist will try to sell you on their ability to get the job done, leveraging the network and connections of a specialist in your industry and /or discipline can be invaluable in leading you to the right candidate. With unemployment at generationally low levels, access to passive candidates through these channels is more important than ever before.


Just like the Golden State Warriors or New England Patriots have recently shown, teamwork is paramount to success. Remember, the ultimate goal of this process is to find a strong candidate in a relatively quick timeframe. In order to do that successfully, all of the teammates have a particular role, and they need to work from the same playbook. The executive recruiter is NOT the enemy, the hiring manager and human resources are NOT the enemy, but rather partners on the project. The playbook needs to include, but is not limited to:

Communication – start with a complete job description, full intake call and an outline of the hiring process

Access – to the hiring manager for insight into the intangibles that the ideal candidate needs to possess

Timely feedback – throughout the entire process starting with resume submittal to help recalibrate a misfire, and after all interviews to keep timeline and candidate expectations in line

Transparency – as the initial job requirements morph throughout the interviewing process, it’s critical to make sure all parties are kept up to speed in real time

Advice – ask for it! Good recruiters have extensive networks and databases of candidates and contacts in YOUR industry. When it comes to compensation and other benchmarks that help attract top talent, tap into the expertise at your disposal


Plain and simple, you get what you pay for. One factor determining how executive recruiters prioritize their searches is the fairness of the fee agreement involved. It is a competitive marketplace for talent, and internal resources will be distributed to clients with the most competitive fees. Another factor that can come into play is the level of exclusivity. There is a fine line between opening up the search to all comers, and giving the search as an exclusive to one recruiter. If you’ve done your homework properly and selected from the right group of executive search firms, the recommendation is to only work with a small select group of recruiters. If more than two or three firms are working on the assignment, it’s likely that the best ones will run from the search and move on to their next opportunity.

As for agreements, in many cases you need a law degree to really understand what’s in it! Why is an executive recruiter being given the same boiler plate vendor agreement as the break-room coffee provider? The standard agreement should be simplified to only include the relevant terms for hiring – fee percentage, payment terms, guarantee period, and length of resume referral ownership. Keep it simple and get to the business at hand.


Lastly, and perhaps the most important part of the interview process is the offer. Be transparent and take the mystery out of this process. This is where real-time communication between the internal hiring team and the executive recruiter is critical. Use the executive recruiter’s insight into the psyche of the candidate and collaborate to devise an offer that will be accepted the first time.

Remember, the ultimate goal is to land your choice candidate. Make sure everyone is on the same page. Strong open communication throughout the hiring process goes a long way in achieving the desired result. Good luck and let us know how we can help.

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