Executive Recruitment – A Two-Sided Coin

At some point in almost every professional’s career they will have the experience of dealing with executive recruitment either as an employer using the services of a recruiter to find candidates or as a candidate submitting an application through the consultant. The perspective from these two sides is quite different although in many respects they are seeking to achieve similar results and that is to match the employers needs to the offerings of the candidates.

I have recently been spending some time assisting my colleague Mark Nicol of MDN Consulting in recruiting executive staff for a range of roles and I have come to appreciate even more deeply the sometimes challenging task of reconciling the needs of both employers and candidates.

Why do organisations use recruitment consultants?

JobadvertsRBATypically recourse to recruiting consultants is had because management believes it will benefit from the support of an external professional skilled in the processes of evaluating and selecting individuals for employment. This is largely because the consultant is involved in those processes professionally on daily basis whereas senior executives of organisations are often faced with the task only infrequently.

It may also be because of time pressures, volumes of work or the need to demonstrate significant independence and objectivity in the appointment.

There is a high degree of competition in the recruitment industry and there is a wide range of consultants whose capabilities and cost vary considerably. The final choice of consultant often depends on the rapport the consultant establishes with the employer who must feel comfortable that the consultant understands their needs and will progress the recruitment in a manner that will produce the best results for the organisation.

What is it that employers look for from a recruitment consultant?

Obviously the most fundamental answer is that an employer looks to a recruitment consultant to search for, attract and present for selection the best possible field of candidates suitable for the role being recruited. In satisfaction of this need the employer typically seeks from the consultant the following attributes:

  • Strong empathy with the employer and understanding of the employer’s business needs concerning the position being recruited;
  • Wide networks and effective vehicles for sourcing and attracting quality candidates;executive recruitment
  • Independence and objectivity in evaluating initial applications;
  • Sound judgement in terms of assessing qualifications and qualities of candidates;
  • Rigorous assessment processes and methodology;
  • Support and advice to the senior executive or selection panel making the appointment;
  • Professional facilitation of interviews;
  • Efficient and timely management of the logistics of the process;
  • Cost-effective fees and overheads associated with attracting and assessing candidates;
  • Thorough referee checks;
  • In some cases assistance in negotiating terms of employment and a concluding employment contracts.

In choosing a recruitment consultant to assist them employers need to assess these attributes against their understanding of the consultant’s reputation and mode of operation. Not all recruitment consultants embrace the same degree of professionalism and rigour in their recruitment methodologies. Importantly, price, whether high or low, is certainly not an indicator of quality of service.

What do candidates look for from the recruiting consultant?

The recruitment consultant, although engaged by the employer as the primary client, has a responsibility to the applying candidates to treat applications in a professional and objective manner. Candidates have their own needs when placing their career future in the hands of the recruiter. What they generally seek is:

  • To be provided with sufficient information about the position and the recruitment process to be able to respond to the best of their ability;
  • To have their application treated seriously and objectively;
  • To be personally treated with dignity;
  • For their applications to be duly considered and professionally assessed on their merits;PEOPL03
  • For their applications to be treated with confidentiality;
  • To be provided with helpful and objective critique on their applications;
  • To be assured of equitable treatment relative to other applicants;
  • To be kept informed of the various stages of the recruitment process and their standing in it;
  • Constructive feedback on their performance at interview;
  • If unsuccessful, to be considered for access to other opportunities that the consultant might be aware of or to be kept in mind by the consultant for possible future roles being recruited.

Recruitment consultants see both successful and unsuccessful candidates as being continuing resources for their recruitment activities. Successful candidates are kept in mind for further advancement at an appropriate time in their career and unsuccessful candidates are usually retained on record for the consultant’s search process should an appropriate position presents itself for recruitment in the future.

Keeping both sides of the executive recruitment coin in balance

So it is then that the recruitment consultant has an obligation to the employer to present the best field of candidates for selection and at the same time has an obligation to the candidates to provide an opportunity for them to present their best case to the employer for selection. Good recruitment consultants also provide mentoring to both employers and candidates on a purely impartial basis concerning selection processes and how each might best conduct themselves to achieve their respective ends.

The best of both worlds is achieved when the employer is highly pleased with both the process and the outcome of appointing a candidate most suited to the role, and when even the unsuccessful candidates are happy that they had the opportunity to present their best case.


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