Author: Mike Morrow

So, your search firm has presented a short list of candidates. You interview three. One is a complete miss. You decide between the two finalists, but the choice is pretty clear. Candidate A is the overwhelming favorite amongst the leadership team. They all connected with her, she has great credentials, and she’s motivated to join your company. She’s hired.

Effective search, right? Well… no.

Think about it. What have you really gotten for your $60,000 or $160,000 search fee? Three “finalists,” only one of whom really had a shot at getting hired?

You’re too easy on your recruiting firm! You should demand more for your investment. Finding a candidate who is a match on paper, and who has the ability to interview well with your leadership team, that’s table stakes.

What should you be getting? For starters, better visibility into the process and the overall search. If you’re settling for a black box, hidden process that spits out a handful of finalists, you’re leaving a lot on the table. How are you supposed to discern a “good” candidate from a “great” candidate?

Your retained executive search partner needs to give you more. At the end of the day, not only should you get the right candidate, you should get the following added value out of the process:

Culture Fit Assessment: If you’re counting on your search firm to identify someone who is a fit, not just on paper but in terms of the organization’s DNA, shouldn’t they have an effective way of not only assessing your organization’s culture, but measuring candidates’ fit relative to that culture?

Team Fit Assessment: It has been posited that the basic “building block” of successful organizations is no longer the individual, but a high-performing team. It’s not enough to land the rock star. You have to land the right musician for your band. Your search firm needs to ensure this.

Leadership Fit Assessment: For any key role, you need an executive with the right skills. An executive who can excel in your culture. An executive who will add value to the team and help make the whole greater than the sum of its parts. But you also need someone with the right leadership DNA to achieve the desired results. Your search firm needs to unearth the key must-have leadership competencies required for a given role, and, more importantly, identify the candidate(s) who are hard-wired to effectively tackle the challenges of the role.

Market Intelligence: A good search firm won’t hide behind a curtain; they’ll give you real time intelligence on what the market has to bear for the role you’re recruiting. You should feel like you’ve done the search yourself and benefit from the data points they uncover, including compensation data to validate your thinking on the appropriate compensation level for the right candidate for a particular role.

Integration and Onboarding: It’s not enough to bring the executive to the table, assist with negotiating the compensation structure, and get the person to accept. The savviest companies lean heavily on their search firms to assist with integration. While most companies have an official onboarding process, for many it’s more like an intake process: “Here’s your office, here’s the bathroom, here’s the handbook, good luck.” Your search firm should do more than a cursory “check-in” call at 30, 90, 180 days. A good search firm will play a hands-on role in systematically ensuring that both the hiring leader and incoming executive are on the same page, from day one until the day that one or the other moves on or moves up.

When you think about it, are you being too easy on your search firm? Is their fee too high?

The odds are that their fee isn’t too high. Their value is too low.