The C-level job search differs in many ways from traditional job searches. This fact holds true not just for job seekers, but also for the human resources (HR) departments that spearhead recruiting efforts. Often, internal recruiters turn to outside recruiting firms for help when it comes to C-level recruiting because the stakes are so much higher.
In some ways, hiring at the C level is easier than hiring for mid-level positions. Candidates for C-level roles typically have long track records full of notable achievements and perhaps some notable failures. Thus, it is easier to judge the effect that this candidate will have at the organization.
At the same time, the stakes are much higher with C-level hires. Hiring mistakes for these roles can prove costly and even disastrous in some cases. For many internal recruiters, working with an outside firm helps to ensure that they are taking the right steps and making the best decisions.
The Benefits of Working with an External Recruiting Firm
Working with an external recruiting firm to fill C-level positions has more benefits than just mitigating the risk of a hiring mistake. Professional recruiters can help HR professionals avoid many of the common issues that lead to such mistakes. One of the most common problems when companies keep the process internal is the sheer amount of time needed to conduct a thorough search. HR departments should never rely on posting a position and waiting for applications to come in to fill a C-level position. Finding the best candidates requires a proactive approach and ideally a focused team that can perform an exhaustive search to attract the best candidates. Such a search takes time and HR professionals’ days are often filled with other duties and distractions. As a result, weeks can come and go without real progress being made. A professional firm can act as a great partner in the search process to relieve the time requirements of a thorough search.
The other major benefit of working with a professional recruiting firm is its access to an extensive network and its ability to check references in an effective, efficient manner. When companies keep their executives searches internal, they sometimes tend to “soft-reference” candidates, which means that they make decisions about excluding and including candidates based on insufficient data and without considering all relevant perspectives. Referencing is an extremely important part of the C-level candidate search process that committees must not overlook or rush. Working with an external recruiting firm helps ensure that the candidate pool consists of the best individuals for the position and that no one is unfairly overlooked.
HR departments should also consider the fact that external firms are plugged into the talent market in particular niches in a way that individual professionals cannot be. Thus, external firms save companies the time it would take to investigate these niche talent markets and ultimately allow organizations access to a wider range of candidates.
Choosing the Best External Recruiting Firm for a Company’s Needs
When looking for an external recruiting firm, it is imperative that companies do not simply shop by price. Some firms cost more money than others, but they may have a better network of candidates in the niche that the company needs or a better track record of making placements. While cost certainly plays a factor in the final decision, HR professionals should also consider references, particularly ones from other organizations in the industry, as well as the quality of recent acquisitions that they have facilitated.
Companies need to research which firms specialize in their particular areas of need. Some firms may have a strong network in finance, whereas others may specialize in marketing, operations, or human resources. By finding a firm that focuses on the specific area of need, companies can get the most focused guidance, as well as access to the best of the best in that particular area.
Just as referencing is important with potential candidates, companies also need to reference external search partners. HR professionals should be able to easily find a list of past clients and candidates and spend some time talking to each of them. For clients, individuals should ask how happy they are with the placement. For candidates, it is important to discern how they are performing in their placements and whether they feel qualified for the position and challenged by the work. Searchers are ultimately about more than finding the best candidate for the position. Companies need to search for the best candidate who fits into the company culture already established. The best external C-level recruiters understand the importance of cultural fit for driving productivity.