Leave job hunt to specialist recruiters
Retained search firms are the elite of the recruiting industry. Tapped to fill C-level, strategic, hard-to-fill, and professional-level openings, retained search firms command fees of about a third of the hire's total annual compensation. The fee is paid regardless of whether or not the employer hires one of the presented candidates.
Of course, retained search firms stake their reputation on being able to find candidates who match your needs, so the risk is not as great as it seems. Furthermore, they invest considerable money in dedicated teams and advertising to find candidates who closely match your requirements.
If you are an employer looking to fill such a position, you probably will turn to a retained search firm. On the other hand, if you need to access a large pool of candidates quickly or want a recruiter to find applicants for classic positions that are relatively easy to fill, such as database administrator or HR manager, you will probably work with contingency recruiters.
Contingency recruiters command a percentage fee (usually 20 percent to 30 percent of the hire's annual salary), but you pay that fee only if you hire one of their candidates. You generally ask more than one contingency search firm to work on your search, enabling you to get a high volume of candidates. With retained search firms, however, you engage only one firm.
Taking into account the considerable cost of using either a retained search or contingency recruiter, as well as the urgency of filling a position, it is essential employers start with a well-thought-out job description. Be specific about which qualifications are non-negotiable. Discuss the proposed salary range with the recruiter.
Philip Lamb, managing director of Bridgeville-based PRL International, has been doing retained executive searches for 11 years. To ensure a smooth process, Lamb stresses the need for strong communication between the recruiter and the employer. That communication, Lamb says, should include target dates for presentation of candidates and hire date, availability for interview scheduling, and the frequency and method of updates.
Retained search firms often specialize in certain jobs and industries, giving them deep knowledge and contacts in their niche. Lamb says, “Our success in finding and evaluating the right individuals is based on extensive knowledge of the key players, market savvy, unparalleled worldwide networks and a focus on the culture fit.”
If you are a job candidate who is working with a retained search firm, Lamb recommends using the recruiter's specialized knowledge. Lamb says, “Take advantage of your recruiter's expertise to chat about your career path and options. Develop a high-value relationship with this career coach that will have exponential returns.”
One of the occasional frustrations employers and recruiters experience is when the chosen candidate decides to accept a counteroffer from a current employer. Lamb says, “The rule of thumb among recruiters is that 80 percent of people who accept counteroffers either leave or are let go within a year.”
Consider that wise counsel from someone who's in the trenches.