Checklist for selecting a World-Class Search Firm – Some things to consider when you pick your next search firm.

Results of their searches

  1. The firm has a high past success rate with our company.

  2. Search firm-placed employees must have higher performance, performance appraisal scores, promotions, bonuses etc. than employees from other hiring sources.

  3. Must be cost-effective (lower cost vs. benefits (lower cost vs. benefits). than other methods of recruiting .

  4. The use of this executive search firm must result in a __% higher overall recruitment and selection success rate than other firms and strategies.

  5. Must be able to demonstrate a positive ROI on the use of their services over those of regular internal recruiters. It’s rates do not exceed industry standards.

  6. Recruited candidates request lower starting salaries than equally qualified candidates from other sources.

  7. Search firm-referred candidates must yield a higher offer acceptance and a lower turnover rate than the general applicant pool.

  8. Fulfills __% of searches on time, under budget and within specifications.

  9. The overall time to hire must be faster than using our own recruiters.

  10. Must have verifiable track record of successfully locating and placing qualified candidates for this position with other benchmark firms (our competitors?).

  11. In a “side by side” search they provide the best candidates in the allotted time period.

Quality of their database

  1. Must be able to prove (quantify) to us that they have the “best” (qualified) recruitment database for our position.

  2. The firms data base must contain qualified candidates that we have not identified.

  3. Must have a diverse data base that will provide us with a minimum of __% diverse referrals. Does their database contain candidates from geographic regions where we have offices / needs?

  4. Do they have an international database and capabilities?

  5. How old / dated are the resumes in their database. Is it continually updated?

  6. Does the database include “non-active” job seekers? Superstars? Soon to be superstars? And lesser known superstars?

  7. Search firm-provided employees must demonstrate a lower turnover rate as compared to those hired through other sources (a ___% retention rate for the 1st year).

  8. Search firm must be able to demonstrate that it has wide industry contacts and candidates from our targeted benchmark firms.

  9. Must provide “pre-screened” candidates that result in a __% or less of rejection rate of unqualified” candidates in our searches.

Processes and services

  1. Use of the search firm must reduce time spent by the our executives and internal recruiter on each requisition.

  2. Must assign the best (specified) search consultant or consultant team to our account.

  3. The firm has a worldwide data base and the capability to recruit in all countries that we have offices and needs.

  4. Must show that their recruitment and sourcing methods and practices are the most advanced available, and are reliable, and valid.

  5. Search firm must demonstrate a working knowledge of our culture and placements must fit into our corporate culture more rapidly than the norm.

  6. The search firm must utilize the best state-of-the-art technology available (on-line databases, Web tools, Extranets etc.)

  7. The search firm has done a “dry run” (snapshot) search and it’s results are superior to our own efforts and those of other firms.

  8. Search firm must demonstrate that they can anticipate and identify potential recruiting and hiring problems (and their solutions).

  9. The search consultant teaches us how to “do it better ourselves” as well as placing candidates.

  10. They practice “relationship recruiting” over an extended periods of time with potential candidates. This means that candidates are assessed over a period of time and that their “real” needs are known to the recruiter.

  11. Do they offer a guarantee? How often has it been necessary?

  12. Do they have a “no raid or poach” policy and a track record to back it up?

  13. Is the firm retained or contingent? Are they ranked or rated near the top of their field.

  14. Firm has “instant / emergency” search capability.

  15. Has the firm done a sufficient volume of recent searches for this job to demonstrate their current competency?

  16. During candidate assessment, the firm must use weights for our required competencies and rate the candidates using numbers.

  17. Must provide an accurate candidate assessment score similar to ours.

  18. They demonstrate that they provide immediate follow-up and feedback after meetings and interviews.

  19. They have a local office or are in “town” on a regular basis.

Customer service and responsiveness

  1. Must provide accurate and timely candidate synopsis / summaries and consistent evaluations. Candidate profiles must include accurate assessments of their needs and decision criteria.

  2. Firm response time and customer satisfaction rate exceeds the industry average, even during busy and off-cycle periods.

  3. Search firm must be capable of rapidly adjusting and modifying its procedures to meet our changing needs. They know our business, competitors, products and customers.

  4. The search firm listens to our needs and are flexible and willing to readjust procedures if our business needs require it.

  5. Will the recruiter maintain a relationship with our firm after the placement to ensure the success of the placement. Placed candidates have a high (__%) satisfaction rate with the search firm and the recruiter.

  6. Must demonstrate a rapid response time and a record of immediate follow-up and feedback to our requests.

  7. Use of the search firm must reduce the time spent by the internal recruiter and the line manager on each requisition.

  8. Search firm must verify that each candidate has not previously applied to our firm (thereby eliminating disputes over whether a fee is owed by our firm).

  9. Their firm has a low turnover rate for it’s search consultants.

  10. Our managers rate the quality of the service and candidates provided as excellent.

Legal issues, values and ethics

  1. The firm has an exceptional track record in privacy / confidentiality and conflict of interest matters.

  2. Must have a track record of professional representation of clients in such a way to attract the top candidates and to protect our reputation.

  3. Does the firm / recruiter have a history of attempting to “go around” / or circumventing HR and dealing directly with line management?

  4. Must have a zero complaint rate for adherence to applicable Federal and state employment laws. (ADA, EEOC, Title VII etc.)

  5. Sourcing / pre-screening methods must guarantee/ demonstrate no adverse impact. Or no disparate treatment.

  6. Must have a recent proven track record in our industry ( positive references (__% or above) at our benchmark firms) of adherence to high ethical standards (NAER / AESC).

  7. The percentage of lawsuits and complaints must be below our internal rates.

  8. Must use best available objective system to assess KSA’s and to ensure only valid “knockout factors” are utilized.

  9. The executive search firm must demonstrate a working knowledge and adherence with our corporate values and culture. They should also know our business needs.
© November, 1998

As seen on Gately Consutling

About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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