It’s much easier and cheaper for companies to do this themselves, agencies just use LinkedIn then send a CV over so you’re paying a search fee for very little searching.
You won’t be surprised to hear that someone who runs his own search and selection agency doesn’t agree, however you’d be surprised how many businesses still think this is the case and 80% of the time I’d agree with them.

The reason for the title of this blog is down to timings, companies usually exhaust all perceivable avenues first and then get in touch with agencies as a last resort. Even those without an in-house team will usually try via HR as they’re loath to pay a fee for the services of agencies where they believe they could do it themselves.

In most cases they could, finding candidates is easy, finding suitable candidates is also easy, the tough bit is finding a candidate that all parties believe will stay in the business for a long term and be a big part of a company’s success.

If companies contact a search agency after they’ve searched themselves then straight away a barrier goes up as everybody knows this is not what they want to do but HAVE to do.
Now strangely if companies contact an agency when a vacancy arises and they haven’t started to search themselves that’s also a bit late but I’ll come into that later.

After a company has searched themselves and not found anybody, human nature says any candidate a search specialist finds will not be deemed the ‘right’ one as why wouldn’t they have found them already. The relationship is already seen as a supplier and not a service. I’m not saying this is all company’s fault as search agencies don’t do themselves any justice with the way in which they present candidates, however if a partnership approach was taken then all parties would be better off.

Back to timings, if you have a relationship with a search agency and they are part of the process for recruiting future leaders or succession planning then there actually needs to be no gap between hires so the business continues without the sunk cost involved in recruitment.

The core areas to getting your recruitment strategy right is timing, partnership approach, understanding the candidate not only their skills and the key area is cost; what do you think is the right fee to pay and for this what would you expect as it can’t be a one-way conversation. Why not speak with a search agency and ask for reduced rates for a period of exclusivity, offer to pay invoices quicker for a reduction in rate, discuss a negotiated fee if multiple hires are taken on, there are two parties that need to agree Terms of Business so the power is in both of your hands.

All agencies start with a higher rate knowing companies will want to negotiate so why don’t we all be up front and say what rate we can all work to and get it out of the way and concentrate on the important part.

Therefore, I believe executive search agencies are a waste of time if you use them as a last resort but used as a valued partner they can add real value to your business for years to come.

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