OK, so nearly everybody who needs a new executive these days starts the same place: Monster.com. That's not always the best option. Enlisting the aid of an executive recruiter offers some important advantages to small companies, including access to top talent that shuns the recruiting sites, expert consultation on defining positions and selecting candidates, an active hunt for prospects, and a human being who's accountable if you're not happy with the results.
There are two basic types of recruiters:
- Retainer firms are paid monthly while they search for candidates, for however long it takes you to hire somebody. These are the big guns that specialize in talent drawing salaries above $75,000. They're the top choice for access to the primo prospects (often they will have exclusive rights to each job seeker they represent) but they also put the most of your money on the line.
- Contingency firms handle any type of job but are most often used to find junior and midlevel candidates for positions paying below $75,000.You pay only when you hire candidates that they recommend. Typically, contingency firms charge a single fee based on the new employee's annual salary (usually one-third of that amount). Though potentially cheaper, contingency firms have limited expense budgets (so they may never fly out to meet you or your interviewees), and rarely have exclusive rights to candidates.
Define your needsTake the time to carefully define who you need before you start looking.
rundown of responsibilities associated with each executive's role. Review sample executive job descriptions at HR.BLR.com. Review some common hiring mistakes on Chally International's Web site. And visit online job sites — for instance, The Wall Street Journal's CareerJournal site, which posts professional and executive-level positions — to see how your colleagues and competitors are defining their executive roles.
Find an executive recruiterIn most markets you'll have plenty of recruiters to choose among, and their business has slacked off in recent years. You can afford to be choosy.
Explore other recruiting optionsAssuming you're not completely sold on hiring a recruiter, here are other options to explore.
- Attend local association meetings and industry trade events — you'll often find headhunters specializing in your industry cruising there.
- Do a Google search on a candidate you're considering. It's not a full background check, but you may learn something that can help guide your choices.
- Look first at internal candidates. Hiring from within is smart for a host of reasons. Maybe you're overlooking someone.
- Post-mortem your hires. A year later, look at your new executive and review how he/she was hired. Could a different hiring approach have yielded a better executive?