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Why Corporate Recruiters Shouldn’t Do Executive Search

executivesearchCorporate recruiters come in all shapes and titles – Recruiting Specialist, Recruiter, Talent Acquisition Specialist, Talent Consultant. I’m sure you’ve heard others. Regardless of title, corporate recruiters are rarely positioned to do real dedicated search. Sure, that’s a general statement and there are exceptions all around. I’m sure there are large talent acquisition teams that have a few folks carved out just to execute on high(er) profile search assignments. What a luxury! It’s not the norm.

Most corporate recruiters are juggling 25-50 open requisitions, swimming in a sea of activity, process and bureaucracy that is mostly counterproductive to focused search, and spending the vast majority of time in a reactive or responsive mode. A recruiter’s day might consist of the following:

 

  • 200+ email iterations including hiring managers, candidate inquiries/applications, scheduling, interview follow up, etc. 200+ is conservative for many.
  • 20-30 outbound phone calls to candidates.
  • 10-20 inbound calls.
  • A couple of meetings with managers on new requisitions.
  • Screening candidates when time permits – mainly resumes that come through multiple channels.
  • Offers, background checks, onboarding, ATS management, reports.
  • Lots of interrupt driven activity from pop-ins, unsolicited calls, meetings, and general noise of the day.

And then, there’s the high profile search that shows up on the recruiter’s radar (or more than one in many cases). It’s the VP, Marketing or SVP, Engineering, or maybe even a CTO or Head of Something (yes, the dreaded HoS positions). The recruiter is told, “…This is a very high profile position. Spend most of your time on this because there are lots of eyes on it.” Or maybe, “we really want to fill this in house to save on retainer/fee, so carve out some time for this search…” In the words of Wayne Campbell, “Yea, right! As if…”

I don’t ever remember an in-house recruiter being asked to take on this type of search and subsequently having 80-90% of their req load reassigned to allow them to actually “carve out time.” It rarely (if ever) happens. Furthermore, recruiters typically drive a big ship that is difficult to turn or slow down and even more difficult to reassign. The email, phone calls, inquiries, candidates, resumes don’t stop on a dime. They keep coming. And, if the recruiter shifts any attention to a dedicated search, someone suffers – the client group and/or the candidates, both usually. Good recruiters don’t let this happen, and as a result, the strategic search ends up going tactical (at best) and very little good comes of that. Top candidates are not discovered, the recruiter is caught in purgatory, and ultimately the search produces lackluster results. The stakeholder is disgruntled because “this recruiter can’t seem to do something as simple as fill one key position.” And, so the story goes.

Now, if your company has a dedicated executive/key search group, great. This doesn’t apply. If no such group exists, then consider the scenario next time there is a requirement for a key position to be filled in your organization. The money invested to find and vet multiple high-impact candidates through a dedicated search effort is minuscule compared to the havoc created by trying to accomplish the task in-house, and then rendering a less than optimal result. The fee will never compare to the cost of the bad hire (even a lower quality hire). And, for all of the great recruiters out there who do the admirable work in the corporate seat, this is not an effort to say that you can’t take on the search and produce great results. But, you know it’s an impossibility to bolt on a dedicated high-profile search to your normal workload and expect a great outcome without suffering (your own and others).

As with any other important business decision, weigh the pros and cons of doing an internal vs. external dedicated search. Focus your decision on the ability of your recruiting team to be effective, if it creates disruption to your normal talent acquisition process, and whether your team has access to the candidates you need. Making a decision to engage a specialist could be key to the very livelihood and longevity of your company.

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April 1, 2015