The retained executive search model is broken. It is costly, can leave voids in your organization for months, and all too often produces no results at all.
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While retained search has been the go-to recruiting model for decades, it's time for executives at hiring companies to break out of the box. That may take a little self-reflection. Consider why you are using a search firm. Is it because you have been impressed with the results? Is it because other options are too expensive?
A yes to either of these questions would be a valid reason to use a search firm. However, you probably did not respond affirmatively. More likely, you have always used search firms to recruit talent. Now, in your not-a-minute-to-spare days, you have little time to investigate alternative recruitment techniques.
That's why you will likely find this roundup useful. It's a summary of the tools and tactics that organizations are now using to successfully recruit leaders. These tactics include hiring boutique search firms, doing it yourself, accessing online databases, and taking advantage of the pools of talent offered up by executive agents.
1. Go Boutique
Bigger is not always better. In the larger firms, the partners – who have the greatest knowledge about recruiting – are unlikely to participate in your search. Once they land your business, they will probably delegate the job of recruiting to a junior associate.
On the other hand, at a boutique firm, the partner usually conducts the search. This process is better because it ensures that the person who knows the most about your organization and has the greatest expertise works to find and attract your next leader.
2. Do It Yourself
When an external resource can do a better job, it makes sense to outsource the task. However, if your results from executive search firms have been inadequate, you should consider adding a search firm professional to your in-house staff who can conduct searches internally.
The advantage of this strategy is that in-house managers and executives better understand the organization's strategic direction, needs, and culture. After all, they live it every day. Because of this, they are more likely to be successful.
Apparently, this strategy is working. The evidence arises from some of the leading corporations and private equity firms that have adopted it and not looked back. These organizations include Corporate Executive Board, Hilton, Accenture, LLR, Genstar Capital, HIG Capital, and more.
3. Link Up with Leaders on LinkedIn
If you decide to perform your searches in house, you will need a talent database. This requirement used to be one of the key reasons why companies leveraged the services of executive search firms. Their databases offered tremendous value. Today, however, LinkedIn has diminished that value because it places an extensive talent database at everyone's fingertips.
As of the first quarter of 2016, LinkedIn had 433 million members, and it continues to grow. Not only is LinkedIn a great place to find talent, but it also can assist you in vetting candidates.
To get the most out of LinkedIn, opt for one of the premium accounts. For a small subscription fee, you will be able to discover and reach many more people. You can conduct searches yourself or place ads that enable you to reach applicants who are actively seeking positions. If you are interested in someone, pull up their profile and LinkedIn will let you know if anyone in your network is connected to them. You can then reach out to any mutual connections to discover what they know about the candidate. It's one small step that can save a lot of time and reduce hiring risks.
4. Call an Executive Agent
An executive agent flips the traditional recruiting process around by helping professionals who are looking for the right position. The best executive agents only work with C-suite and board-level professionals who are highly qualified and well vetted. Because of this, a call to an executive agent is practically a no-brainer. After all, the fees are paid by the executives, so accessing the firm's talent pool is completely free to the hiring organization.
If you are disappointed with your executive search results, do not feel you have to rely on yesterday's recruiting models. Explore some new options, and you are likely to enjoy better results.
Melissa A. Henderson is founder, president, and CEO of Summit Executive Resources.