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How can Employers Maximize the Effect of Working with Executive Search Consultants

Very often Executive Search Companies can be the only solution to Clients willing to allocate and acquire an outstanding professional to occupy a very senior role within their organization. And there they go:  screen the market; talk to several Executive Search Consultants; select one of them and the process starts.
However, it is also true that working with Executive Search consultants can not be the remedy for all the problems a client may have. Very often the process runs in a manner that is displeasing and unsatisfactory to the three parties involved – the Client; the Consultant and the Candidates.
There might be many handicaps on the way and my suggestion to Employers would be to take the following steps when engaging with a consulting organization:
1.    Carefully evaluate your need internally – engage the key decision-makers for the position into a discussion on the role of the person sought. It will surely save time and effort later if all parties involved share the same opinion on the profile.
2.    Give it enough time – plan your search carefully. Executive search is a lengthy process and apart from the search itself, the Clients need to take into account the pre-notice period of the future employee. The higher the level in the organization, the longer the pre-notice needed to the former employer.
Even if you are under a time pressure to hire, a preferable solution might be to hire an Interim Manager, who would fill in the gap and would give you the necessary time for a proper search.
3.    Executive search consultants could often be the only choice. But how can a Client decide whom to work with? One answer to that question might be - always take the time to look for references for reputable executive search consultants in your domain. Consultants employ the same approach when looking for candidates for a position. Use that approach to select your Consultant. Clients should try to evaluate and understand the capabilities of the search firm they are going to work with. Are they able to deliver on your requirements, to represent your brand in the market place and does their geographical coverage match yours?
4.    Client and Consultant should spend enough time early in the search process to maximize the chances to deliver good results. The more time you spend finalizing the job specification, potential targets and existing off-limits, and agreeing compensation, the more time you will save during the search. Clients should seek consulting from their executive search partner, if hesitant about some aspects of the job profile. Consultants normally work with a multitude of clients and can surely share their experience and observations which might prompt profile alternations.
5.    Allow your search partner to get as much as possible background information on the position and working environment. The more he/she knows, the better the outcome of the search. Let them know the pre-history and reasons for the search, the results expected from the new coming senior manager. If possible, invite your search consultant to meet the immediate supervisors of the position, even the team the new manager would be leading. Clients should remember that a good match is only possible when two crucial conditions are in place: right qualifications and right mindset to fit the existing operation.
6.    Have a regular contact with the search firm and constantly provide feedback throughout the process. Don’t just hand the assignment over to them and think that’s all. The active communication is probably the most important prerequisite for a successful search. Keep your consultant under pressure and require adhesion to the agreed search plan.
7.    One final but very important touch to the process. Make sure that the representatives of your Company involved in the selection process are qualified in interviewing high-level candidates, sourced by executive search company. In a small market like Bulgaria, even larger organizations have executives who are not prepared to conduct such an interview. Candidates sourced by the executive search consultant are not applying after a job advertisement, and more importantly they are not actively looking for a new job. They would rather expect to be given a compelling reason to make the change. Standard interviewing techniques would most likely convince them to decline the offered position.

In a nut shell, Clients need to take time to understand the value a search firm can bring in to the process. It is widely believed that this is a very expensive service for the “little effort”, in a world with new direct-sourcing techniques. However, even big international Clients seldom have a Recruitment specialist prepared to search, select and evaluate top-level professionals.  There are specific techniques applied by the Search Consultants, ensuring consistent, discrete and smooth running of the process, which is vitally important to attracting a high-skilled executive. Furthermore, in the real world it is very often difficult for big multinationals to approach a competitor’s employee directly. Hence, using Executive Search consultants is on many occasions the right approach when selecting your top management. And if so, why not make the most of it by following the steps above!

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