How to Get the Best Results When Hiring a Search Firm, Part 1

When recruiting a candidate for a job, it always pays to be prepared. Well, almost always. There are some instances, often in recruiting for permanent or direct hire roles, when it actually pays to be less prepared and more flexible. The fact is, the earlier you engage a search firm in the recruiting process, the more they’re able to help shape your search with the advantage of knowing how the market will respond.

Minimal Preparation Means Better Results

As you embark on the search for the perfect candidate for your position, you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing you don’t need to have all of the details nailed down before you start:

1. A Full Job Description. Knowing the basic job requirements is often all you need to get started. A final job description is something your search firm should help you craft. For example, when you engage BVOH Finance & Accounting Search early on, we’ll guide you through our process to help determine how the new hire will fit into your company and every requirement needed to make that happen. Our clients have found that the more flexibility they allow in creating the job details, the more likely they are to find the the perfect candidate to fit their needs.

2. A Compensation Package. If you don’t know the exact role and level of responsibility for your new hire, it’ll be next to impossible to determine what the compensation should be. Once you and your search firm determine the exact role for the new hire, the firm can advise you on structuring an enticing compensation package based on their evaluation of the current candidate pool.

3. The Requirements of the Candidate. It’s easy to undervalue or overvalue a job position. We’ll help you match the desired skill set with realistic requirements for experience.

Avoid the “Order” Approach

Once you know the compensation package and which candidates have the right skills, it’s time to define a job that appeals to those candidates. This is where the creative liberties come in, if possible. The right search firm can help you tailor a job description to attract a candidate with the core skill set needed. Although it’s not always possible when defining a position, the perfect scenario allows for flexibility. This pliable approach works much more effectively than its opposite: when a company places an “order.” A client might approach a search firm and say, “Here’s who I want and what I want them to do, go find them,” but the problem with that approach is two­fold. First, the client may know they need a CPA with x years of experience, but they don’t know how to structure the rest of the position. An incomplete job description and mismanaged expectations can lead to attracting and possibly hiring the wrong candidates. Second, job attractiveness is often overlooked. If you’re a hiring manager, you may have the same background as the CPA you’re recruiting, but it’s easy to forget that you wouldn’t want to do 70% of the job you’ve just laid out. Neither does the candidate. Hiring managers often box themselves into a corner with an unmarketable job and a population of people with endless choices.

Choosing the Right Search Firm

The search firm you choose will determine your success in the recruiting process, so the most important thing you can do is choose the right one. The three most important traits to look for in a firm are:

– Access ­ Do they have connections to the network of candidates you want?

– Bandwidth ­ Do they have enough capacity to focus on this search and deliver quality results?

– Expertise ­ Do they have a proven track record to advise you through every step the process?

Remember to be flexible. There’s no need to approach a search firm with a complete job description. In fact, they’ll be able to help you get where you want to go faster if you allow a margin for flexibility. This isn’t about increasing compensation to attract better candidates. If there’s an ability to tweak a role, make it more appealing to the candidate, and still get the job done, the right search firm will find it. In the next post, we’ll talk about how to work with a search firm to find that perfect candidate.

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