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How to Pinpoint the Right Search Firm – For Your Company

by Wes Lieser

What if someone walked up to you, and asked you for your advice on what kind of car they should get? What would you say to them? You’d probably want to know more about their situation and what exactly they’d use the car for… right? Some questions you’d ask might be:

  • How far do you drive each day/week?
  • Do you have a family?
  • Do you need to haul anything?
  • What features are important?

There are a lot of other questions and concerns that go into the process, but I think you get the point. You’re not going to recommend that someone buy a Fiat if they have a 6-person family and need to haul around sporting equipment. The same can be said when deciding what kind of search firm you should use to fill a position at your company. It’s difficult to know who to partner with until you identify what you’re actually looking for. I’ll walk you through 3 different recruiting scenarios you may consider for your business:


Client Requirements – Client wants the lowest possible fee because they just need someone to send over resumes. Often times, multiple search firms will be working on the role because the client feels it’s the best way to cast the widest net. They’re not normally satisfied until they’ve interviewed 5+ candidates to make sure they’re making the right decision.

Recruiters Take – Recruiters know they have a lower chance of filling the position (because of multiple firms), and they’re getting a smaller compensation for it. Therefore, they’ll reach out to the one or two people off the top of their head and submit them. If there’s 3 different recruiters submitting 2 candidates each, the client will be interviewing six candidates….this is okay for some clients. Also, some recruiters might post the position online to see if they can get lucky and someone with the right skill-set applies. All that said, no one typically spends a lot of time on it and it’s very surface level.

Personal Thoughts – Honestly, if I have a candidate off the top of my head, I’ll send them over to try and make a quick placement. It’s not too often it works like that, but it has happened. However, I let the client know I won’t spend any time proactively recruiting on the position. I personally don’t post these positions because it’s a waste of time….if a qualified candidate is applying to my posting, they’re probably applying directly to the client’s position as well.


Client Requirements – Often times this is dealing directly with the hiring manager who’s frustrated the position is still open, and they don’t want to have to deal with multiple recruiters, they simply just want someone who understands their pain and can fill the role. Most of the time this position has been open for 2-4+ weeks and the internal recruiting team either doesn’t have the bandwidth or expertise to effectively fill the position. At this point clients will pay more because they understand “you get what you pay for”.

Recruiters Take – Great recruiters stay connected to great people because they know they’ll need to hire at some point. Working on a search with a hiring manager you already have a relationship with should be every recruiters dream. Most recruiters bust their a** on these positions because if you do great work, they hiring managers will keep coming back.

Personal Thoughts – This type of assignment consists of the majority of my business. These are searches I get from people I’ve connected with during their personal search for a new position and stayed in touch with. Even if I didn’t place them, they’ve spoken with several different recruiters and can differentiate the good from the bad. They understand that I’m providing them with passive candidates, not just the ones that are actively applying to jobs. It’s my job to find the best talent in the industry

Search Partner

Client Requirements – (Retained Search) Your client is the CEO or another C-suite member. They’re looking for someone to partner with that will help them understand the full capabilities of the role, what sort of skill-set is in the marketplace, and put together a fully comprehensive search. You’re working with the client to write the job description, build a compensation package based on their needs as well as how other companies are compensating the same role.

Recruiters Take – This is truly a consultative approach and the reason why many people get started in recruiting. These assignments involve a lot of time, work, and consultation. Something which most recruiters aren’t qualified to do. This is the hidden job market….most recruiters don’t ever advertise that they’re working on these positions because they don’t want to deal with the 100 applicants that aren’t even close to qualified for the position.

Personal Thoughts – I honestly don’t like to work on more than 3-4 fully retained searches at a time because of how much work is involved. It’s not that the work is overwhelming, it’s just more detailed and time consuming. When a client retains me on a search, I put more pressure on myself to deliver than anyone else could ever put on me.

As you can probably tell, I’m a little biased toward second and third since it’s what I do for a living, but with that being said, there’s still a place for the first one. I’ve worked with startups that would love to have more budget to allocate to recruiters but they just don’t. I’ve also worked with Fortune 500 companies that have so many positions open, they need to work with multiple firms to fill them.

Regardless of what you do, make sure you’re using the firm that understands YOUR needs…you’re still the client. There are all kinds of search firms, just like there’s all kinds of cars.

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If you’re looking to speed up your hiring process to get the best talent, contact us today! For more career tips and advice check out Versique’s blog.

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