Recruiting consultants Featured

7:00pm EDT January 30, 2003
Finding the right executive to fill an important post can be a daunting task. A recruiting firm can help you find the right candidate, but first make sure you find the right recruiting firm.

"There are two kinds of executive recruiters -- retainer and contingency," says Rick Taylor, managing partner and president of the search division for recruiting firm Ratliff Taylor and Lekan Inc. "Typically, a contingency firm helps find junior to mid-level people. True recruiters are retained by the company to go out and find an individual to fill a job. They are paid to do work like a consultant."

Contingency agencies are only paid if they make a placement, and will forward as many qualified resumes as possible in an attempt to fill the position. A retainer firm selects candidates that best match not only the job, but also the culture of the company, and they only present the top three or four candidates for interviews.

A contingency firm typically gets 20 percent to 25 percent of the first year salary as payment, while a retainer firm gets 30 percent to 35 percent, with one-third paid up front and the remainder due at some future date.

A recruiter will usually spend two or three hours with a client to pinpoint exactly what it's looking for.

"We need to know the culture and what kind of manager and personality works well," says Taylor. "Typically, I look at the specs as only 50 percent of the job. The management style and personality will determine if they fit, and it's almost as important as the degree."

Retainer firms are typically hired to find the passive job-seeker.

"We are looking for candidates who aren't actively looking for a job. That's what recruiting is all about," says Taylor. "Any size company can use an executive recruiter. The reason we are hired is either they don't have the expertise to find someone or they don't have the time." How to reach: Ratliff, Taylor & Lekan Inc,. or (440) 895 8000

The search

If you hire an executive recruiter, expect to spend some time getting to know each other.

"Our recruiters spend two to three hours with the client really finding out what they are looking for," says Rick Taylor, managing partner of Ratliff Taylor & Lekan. "In many cases, we help them determine what we think their issues and problems are. The more we work with a company, the better we will be able to find someone that matches up with the specs."

Also, have a search team prepared that has the authority to hire.

"If you have a team of six people, you may never be able to get them all together at the same time," says Taylor. "When we come up with people, they have to be ready to go. If the search team is arguing about what makes the ideal candidate, that can be a major problem."

Questions to ask

Rick Taylor, managing partner of Ratliff, Taylor & Lekan, recommends asking the following questions before hiring an executive recruiter.

* What kind of expertise do you have to do this job?

* Have you filled this type of position in the recent past?

* Can you fill this assignment?

* How long have you been a recruiter?

* What is your process going to be in filling this position?

* What's your success rate? Keep in mind that only about 60 percent of vacancies are ever filled.

* How will you communicate with me about your progress?

* Who will lead the search?

* What are the fees and guarantees?

* Are there any blockage issues? Blockage is when a recruiter might be blocked from recruiting from certain firms because they are recent clients. Recruiting firms are typically prohibited from recruiting from previous clients for one to two years after the engagement. If the recruiter has recently worked with all the local banks and you are looking at filling a banking position, that's going to greatly limit who it can go after.