So when partnering with a search firm, look for the following attributes to avoid failed searches and wasted resources.
What type of searches has the firm successfully completed?
This is a very broad question, but one that is important to get answered. You do not want the search firm cutting its teeth on your search. Find out if it conducts retained or contingent searches and in what industries, as well as the type of professionals and at what level.
You want a search firm that possesses a high degree of market knowledge. Getting an indication of the type of searches it has successfully completed will enable you to ensure you're making the right choice.
What markets does it work in?
You want an understanding not only of the types of professionals it has successfully recruited in the past, but also the industries and geographic locations in which it works. Strong market knowledge translates into a more expeditious and efficient search.
A search firm's knowledge of a particular market will also afford you the opportunity to interview the best candidates available, offer competitive compensation packages and hire individuals who represent the finest in their field of endeavor.
Who are you working with?
A search firm's employees -- as with your organization -- are among its most valuable resources. You want to find out the number and average tenure of the recruiters, as well as how many years the firm has been in business.
The larger the agency and the more years of operation, the larger its network and greater its sphere of influence in a particular employment market. A tenured staff of recruiters can offer insight into the search process, help you understand market dynamics and ultimately enable you to hire the key professionals who will contribute to your organization's success.
A search firm works for you -- make sure it will be a solid ambassador -- representing your organization properly and sharing your core values. The misrepresentation of a position or company will lead to future problems.
A successful search firm will take your assignment, aggressively attack the market and deliver qualified candidates to you. This is what you want, but not at all costs. Professionalism and candor should be adhered to throughout the search process.
Partnering with a search firm that shares your values and employs a tenured staff of recruiters who understand market dynamics and the type of professionals you desire is important. Search firms provide more than just a commodity -- they provide helpful insight into the employment market that will benefit you and your organization when building a new team or making a strategic hire.
Shawn Fier (firstname.lastname@example.org) is business unit manager of Systems Research Inc. Reach him at (847)585-8006.