P.O. Box 1059
Van Alstyne, TX 75495
Phone:  903.482.1362

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ANATOMY OF A SEARCH

 

As a hiring authority you may have wondered about the mysterious process a recruiter implements to find the "terrific" candidates we present for your consideration, and why your company should be willing, perhaps even eager, to pay us for the results. Couldn't you do the same thing yourself and save the money?

No mystery. Just hard work and good sales skills. Sure you could do it yourself, but probably wouldn't save any money once you added in the research, recruiting, and screening time and deducted that time from your regular work-day responsibilities with the company. (As a new recruiter once said to me when I zeroed in on an ideal candidate for a potentially difficult search within hours of accepting the assignment, "I see. They don't pay you for the time it takes you to find someone, they pay for the years it took to learn where to look.") It takes a unique skill and mind set to ferret out the industry contacts and make the multitude of cold calls required to build a stable of sources and candidates. You also need to consider the helpful attitude most individuals have towards headhunters, since they may well harbor hope to one day be on the "recruit" end of the telephone call.

Your experience with recruiters may have begun with an unsolicited telephone call touting a candidate the recruiter is confident will be the answer to your prayers. If the recruiter has worked your particular industry long enough to understand the market, and researched your company well enough to understand the chemistry, they could be right, but to be honest, the recruiter really isn't hoping to place that particular candidate with your firm. They are hoping to engage you in a dialogue that will result in a job order for a particular role within the company, and a signed fee agreement whereby your firm agrees to pay a contingency fee if a candidate is hired through the recruiting firm's assistance. In other words-the recruiter really needs to hear your prayer before providing the answer.

While there are some differences between contingency and retained search, the basic process remains the same-regardless of the position, regardless of the industry. While I can't speak for every search organization out there, here is the way we do it.

Basic Process

Either in the initial discussion, or a subsequent conversation after we have received a signed agreement, the recruiter in charge of the search will take a complete job order. In addition to routine questions regarding compensation, location, experience requirements, and job function, we ask about the most important goal for the person you bring on board and the time frame for accomplishment, objectives for the first ninety days or six months, the three most important responsibilities and three most important skill sets. We like to know what relationships need to be strengthened and what personal characteristics you feel are important. We will ask how the role fits into the company, why it is available, and how long it has been vacant. We will ask about the effect a long-term vacancy might have on the department, other employees, and ultimately, the company.

We will want to know if offers have been extended and why they were turned down. We want to understand the hiring process, the pros and cons of working for the company, your management style and background, and why you joined the firm. We will discuss companies or environments likely to have suitable candidates and those you would not consider as sources. We'll talk about your competitors and why your company is better. We'll ask about your customers and why they bought from you. We may well ask about the deals you lost and why you think that happened.

Why Your Company?

We will develop a "reason to buy" story with you that presents the company and the opportunity in the best possible light. If there is any bad news rumoring its way through the industry, you need to bring it to our attention. We'll hear about it within a few hours of beginning the search, and it is better if we are prepared to respond. In essence, we become an extension of your company while presenting an objective consultant persona to both candidates and research sources.

The job order will be discussed among our group for suggestions and referrals and we will mutually decide if the role will be posted at our web site. We will share the assignment with our Top Echelon Network of recruiters for matching against their candidates, much like multiple-listed real estate groups.

Industry Contacts

Recruiting is networking squared. We rely heavily on industry contacts within competitors, vendors, and end-users for referrals. The recruiter will begin calling these individuals, describing the position, the type of person we are seeking, and ask for their help. Names generated from these calls will be telephoned in due process and their advice and assistance solicited. It is not uncommon for the recruiter to speak with 50 to 200 people to develop a research list of potential recruits that meet the general parameters of the role. The resulting candidates will then be telephone interviewed and screened against your requirements.

The research process usually requires about two weeks to begin to surface appropriate candidates, and we typically will not present candidates to you until we have several we believe are qualified for the role. Obviously we do not send you resumes or names of those candidates we have rejected. For each candidate we do send you, we will have interviewed and screened out a number of others who initially seemed to meet the requirements.

Interviews

If you are located in the city where you wish to hire, you may choose to conduct your first interview face-to-face rather than by telephone. Regardless, all interviews should be scheduled through us, which not only relieves you and your staff of the scheduling task, it reinforces our role as facilitator of the process, which again saves you time and effort in fielding calls and questions from the candidates and in advising them of their standing in the process. The ideal scenario would be to schedule all initial interviews over a one or two day period, and discuss and rank the candidates with you upon completion of those interviews. We then debrief the candidates, discouraging or encouraging each one based upon our discussion with you. We will schedule the survivors for second interviews and advise the others they did not make the cut-hopefully pointing them towards more suitable opportunities or offering suggestions for improving their interviewing skills. When we call you to schedule subsequent interviews, we will also let you know how the candidate(s) you have chosen feel about the company and opportunity, advising you of any potential concerns or problems.

Holding the Candidate

The alacrity with which you interview and follow-up with candidates is crucial. Good recruits are like calves milling around in a herd. They are in a comfortable environment, among friends, able to find plenty to eat, and basically content. It takes skill and hard work to identify and cut out the particular candidate of choice, and drive him or her away from the herd. There is a strong primal instinct to return to the herd. When you let more than three days go by without progressive contact, your candidate will have re-assimilated with the herd.

Recruited applicants have to be courted. They have to be sold on the company, its products and future and their career opportunity with the company just as surely as any customer you work with has to be sold on your product. (Obviously, they hear this first from us, to be reinforced by you.) For each candidate we present to you, we will have interviewed at least five to ten. If we present three who appear to be generally qualified, that represents fifteen to thirty candidates we have screened. You may rule out two of them and decide the third candidate is who you want. If we lose this candidate and have to start over, the job becomes much more difficult. The two you rejected are badmouthing the company to protect their egos, and the one who turned down the opportunity is a monument to their testimony without saying anything.

References and Offers

Since we work primarily from referrals, we will have conducted at least one informal reference check on candidates before they are presented to you. We obtain formal references from final candidates, and either your people or ours will conduct reference checks. Some clients prefer to do this themselves, others ask us to do it. We utilize a standard questionnaire and supply the answers as close to verbatim as possible to maintain objectivity. Our questionnaire may be amended to reflect particular areas of the candidates background on which you would like additional information.

A verbal offer should be pre-extended through us for discussion with the finalist before you extend a formal written offer to the candidate. We want to be sure both you and the candidate are on the same page and be able to thoroughly cover a counter-offer possibility with the candidate. We do not want our clients to extend an offer that is not going to be accepted; if we have been the liaison throughout the process we are much more likely to be aware of the outcome.

When you consider that we conduct much of this activity quietly and independently in the background while you continue to drive revenue, manage the company, and fulfill your daily obligations and responsibilities, you begin to see the value of an outside recruiter.


Barcus Associates
PO Box 1059 • Van Alstyne • TX • 75495
Phone: (903) 482.1362
Email: moreinfo@barcusassociates.com
Web: www.barcusassociates.com

 


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