Finding the Best Executive Staffing Firm for Your Business, Part One

Choosing the best executive staffing firm for your company isn’t a matter of selecting among relative equals, like picking a soda supplier. There are real differences among firms, and knowing those distinctives can pave the way for greater long-term success in hiring and retaining top talent. Before you engage a firm – whether new or your current provider — for your next search, consider this checklist.

Evaluating your executive staffing firm

  1. Success rate – Have the people you’ve hired through your current search firm been successful in your company? Evaluate their statistics – longevity/lack of turnover, promotions, productivity – and then add in your gut feeling about them. Are you fully satisfied, or has the fit been less than perfect? The premium you pay to a retained search firm should result in hires that are more successful than those found by internal recruiters (or should expand your capacity in a way that internal staff cannot).
  2. Efficiency – Does your current executive recruiter function efficiently, completing searches on time, within budget, and following your instructions and preferences? When you compare the recruiter’s fees with the benefits they deliver, are you satisfied?
  3. Diversity – When diversity is a priority, have they been able to produce high-quality candidates from under-represented demographic groups? While few diversity candidates might exist in some hard-to-fill jobs, an outstanding recruiter can find diversity candidates in most searches.
  4. Speed – Does your executive staffing firm enable you to complete a hire faster than you could through internal or alternative means? If you’re not tracking their statistics in this area, consider starting.
  5. Appropriateness – Does the search firm understand what is important to your company? In other words, does their approach mesh with what you need? For some large companies, a less-personalized approach can work – imagine if you need 22 software engineers qualified in Python within the next three months to join your team – you’re almost looking for a commodity. But if you’re searching for the next VP of Marketing who must have deep understanding of the medical device industry and who will thrive in your start-up culture, a boutique executive staffing firm will probably give you better results.
  6. Closing the deal – Do the selected candidates accept your offer, or is the offer-acceptance rate lower with the retained firm than with candidates sourced in another way? A good recruiter will have evaluated the recommended candidate(s) for culture fit, openness to relocating (if required), family considerations, compensation and more, all of which influence the likelihood of offer acceptance.

While you can (and should) evaluate a search firm based on these qualities, you can pull the curtain back further on the process by understanding how the firm works. Watch for our next post, Finding the best executive staffing firm, part two: sourcing and database secrets.

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