Myth #3: HR Orientation includes all the On-boarding Needed for New Hire Success
Many companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on complex onboarding plans that all too often require an unrealistic commitment of time and effort from several busy individuals. One of the foremost myths in recruiting is these “one-size-fits-all” plans ever actually work. The truth is they are rarely successful. All companies include orientation, but orientation is not actual on-boarding.
Retained executive search consultants are experts in this area as our reputation is dependent on new hire retention. An on-boarding plan must be simple and easy and require a minimum amount of time. As the executive recruiter has already defined the team profile and discovered how the new hire’s skills and behavioral traits will impact the team he/she will work within, it is a matter of producing two documents.
Good On-boarding Plans are Not Myths in Recruiting
The Personal Action Plan, used by the new hire, right at the start is based on conversations between the new hire and his/her immediate supervisor. After consultation, the new hire has an action plan to not only meet the objectives of the role he/she were hired into, but provides self-development that will allow for career growth, utilize the new hire’s strengths, and work on their weaknesses. A second document, the Mentoring and Coaching Plan, is used by the actual Hiring Manager. It was designed for that new hire, not a “one-size fits-all”.
What is the result of orientation that uses an expensive all-encompassing on-boarding? Waste of valuable time and little to show for it. The result of a retained executive search firm’s personalized on-boarding plan? Streamlined efficient means that results in fast assimilation, quick productivity, and longer retention.
Myth 4: HR and/or Hiring Managers Should Always Make the Offer
Another of the myths in recruiting is that HR makes the offer as that is part of their job function. Often, we see a hiring manager or HR extend an offer to a candidate who would have helped the manager’s company and career enormously – only to receive a turn down. In many instances, the offer fails to emphasize the specific elements of the opportunity which are of greatest interest as well as fail to address the aspirations and goals of the candidate. These quality performers are not actively looking and may need to be “sold.”
It is so frustrating to watch human resources and hiring managers think that THEIRS is the ideal company, opportunity, and offer and that passive candidates should be 100% sold into the opportunity. The fact is often HR low balls the offer or insist they be the sole negotiator. I’ve got news for you – great candidates don’t believe you; they are not going to work for you, and really it is rather insulting to them.
After all they are considering working for the actual hiring manager. While there are various reasons why good candidates are open to making a change, the fact is that virtually none would be comfortable sharing those concerns with an internal recruiter. It is extremely frustrating when an executive recruiter must come in to save the day on a turn down. It’s gotten to the point that at NextGen we simply will not accept a loss and insist in our contract that we make the offer and close.
Professional recruiters have great expertise in developing in-depth individual relationships with the candidates they present. As part of a professional recruiter’s service, they will provide the candidate’s primary motivators to making a move – and by advising the client on the compensation plan in the offer and making the offer verbally acting as the go-between thereby reduce or eliminate turn downs, and assure the manager of securing the best talent available.
Who Makes the Employment Offer - Myths in Recruiting
While companies do experienced turn downs, retained executive recruiters rarely do. We know what it will take to get the offer signed and when a candidate appears unreasonable, retained search forms have the experience and skill set to pull the offer when needed and get the candidate won over by addressing their concerns,
In the final part of this series, we’ll look at the biggest in the myths of recruiting, which is that executive search, specifically retained search fees are too expensive. In that article, we actually lay out why recruitment fees based on performance and delivery by the search firm, the hire, and the success of a hire that meets or exceeds the objectives of the role is far more cost effective than any other means with the rare exception of a great referral.
In the first and second articles of this three part series, we discussed the differences and utilization of HR, internal recruiters and executive search firms. In particular Part 1 reviewed unearthing passive candidates and vetting, while part 2 looked at onboarding and negotiating offers. In conclusion, we discuss how retained executive search actually provides affordability of retained search fees.
Myth #5: Retained Executive Search is too Expensive.
Retained executive recruiters report that many of the companies that can most benefit from their services employ internal recruiters. This may lead to the belief that utilizing retained search firms when internal recruiters or HR people are employed is not cost effective. A simple cost analysis will show otherwise. Consider the combined cost of salaries and benefits of HR personnel and internal “recruiters”, as well as the time that HR people spend doing non-productive interviews with unqualified candidates. These direct and indirect costs are substantially higher than paying out a one-time fee for an executive recruiter’s services.
Executive recruiters eliminate the time and expense required by a firm to find, hire and train a new internal “recruiter”. And any truly successful in-house recruiter will soon leave his salaried position to become a successful external executive search consultant. Additionally, your chances of securing a long-term contributor are much better if an experienced executive search consultant is involved. Studies have shown that a bad hire costs companies three times more than an employee’s annual salary.
many times, HR or internal recruiters will give the same search to several contingency search firms, in the hope that multiplying the quantity of resumes and applicants will result in something that sticks to the wall. What they fail to realize is that since the companies have no skin in the game, contingency recruiters research and send the same candidate resumes to everyone of your competitors at the same time. After all they only receive a fee if a candidate they present is hired, At the same time, the job posting is duplicated across the Internet on job boards and emails making it seem like their may be an issue with the quality of the opportunity and /or the company.
Retained search firms never use job boards. They unearth the best candidates, vet and assess and deliver a shortlist of 2 to 4 finalists to consider. With retained executive search firms, their work isn’t done once a candidate has been placed successfully. A guarantee covering the candidate is often one year; at NextGen we offer a 24 to 36 months replacement guarantee – far exceeding the probationary period. Seasoned recruiters make a point of periodically checking in with candidates that they have placed and will share any concerns with the hiring manager. This is invaluable information and directly contributes to a long-term successful employee, longer retention, and a highly productive staff.
Success Based Recruitment Affordability of Retained Executive Search Fees
Finally, many retained executive search firms have gone to a performance based (or rather success based) fee structure. While the initial deposit can range from ¼ to 1/3 depending on the role, usually the 2nd invoice occurs once the shortlisted candidates are delivered and scheduled for in-person interviews.
The final invoice occurs upon hiring one of those candidates. For the senior executive level succession bench, the final invoice can occur up to one year later dependent upon the new executive meeting their MBOs.
It's a win-win for the company and a good retained search firm will not look at it as a gamble on money, rather confidence in the placement they have made.
Internal recruiting can be a good solution to filling l=lower toi mid-level non-critical positions. They can screen the candidates that apply via the company portal and can provide hiring managers with candidates for lower end roles. However, for critical and key roles, it is an excellent and necessary business decision to utilize the services of a highly skilled retained executive search firm, especially one that has expertise in your industry and knows your market.
Final Analysis on the Affordability of Retained Executive Search Fees
The cost of a bad hire is often 2 to 3 times the salary paid, and it doesn’t stop there. It’s not just the loss of time and the need to hire a replacement but other aspects of failure that occur
- Loss of momentum in a product or service launch into the marketplace which occurs in bad hires within R&D, product management, marketing, sales, and sales engineering
- Failure to meet customer needs and reduce customer acquisition costs when the wrong software, hardware, or R&D engineers are hired
- Failure to properly implement a strategy when a functional leader role is a bad hire.
- Failure to meet maximum goals or M&A or IPO when the wrong CFO or SVP is hired
- Failure to meet sales targets and expand market share when the wrong CMO or VP Sales is hired
- Failure to meet stockholder and investors ROI when a bad CPO< CDO, or CEO is hired
Whether it is a key sales, engineering, operations, functional leadership, or senior executive role, a quality retained executive search firm actually SAVES you money in the long run and brings forth shortlist of candidates that can meet and most often exceed the objectives of the role. Therefore the affordability of retained search fees is evident they pay off in the long run.
Executive hiring managers depend on the quality of their people to achieve goals and implement strategy. A better understanding of the skills and capabilities of executive recruiters can enable any hiring manager to make better hiring decisions by increasing the quality of their hiring decisions, and thereby enhance their own career!
Some executives are aware and take full advantage of the best possible means of identifying and selecting top quality candidates for critical staff openings. However, many do not. Frequently, this stems from myths regarding the merits of utilizing the services provided by topflight retained executive search firms. By a better understanding of these realities, hiring managers will dramatically improve their ability to secure the most qualified candidates in a timely manner.
In the first part of this series, we’ll explore the myths behind sourcing exceptional talent, the differences in the screening and assessments methods used by internal HR and talent acquisition groups, how that is done by experts in retained executive search, and the pros / cons of behavioral testing, and how they impact the ability to make better hiring decisions.
Make Better Hiring Decisions Start with Finding the Right Talent
Myth # 1: Companies Often Unearth the Same Talent that Executive Recruiters Do
With the rise in popularity among HR and internal talent acquisition in the use of online job boards, job aggregators, and networking platforms, many companies mistakenly believe that these sources contain the same talent that can be found through retained executive search firms.
This belief couldn’t be further from the truth. Good executive recruiters don’t post ads on job boards to find qualified applicants. Instead they focus on specific industries and even specialize by types of positions within those industries. The benefits of doing so are enormous. It allows them to invest tremendous time and energy forging relationships with high performing candidates within these niche markets, learning the types of positions in-demand people would see as advancing their careers.
Professionals who genuinely excel have neither the time nor desire to peruse online job ads or to respond to the dozens of email inquiries sent by internal recruiting staff. It is only when an executive search consultant personally approaches them that the best people take the step to becoming available to discuss an opportunity.
Retained executive search consultants invest countless hours establishing unique connections and building relationships with key performers. These connections allow access to talent pools built over many years…and which are available through no other sources.
This, along with the ability of these search consultants to carefully screen and evaluate the best candidates, is what allows them to bring the strongest talent to the table - those “A players” at any level who produce 8 to 10 times more than the next level of “B players”. Instead companies continue to rely on job boards, career sites, and networking platforms that will never find the outstanding quality of talent that retained executive recruiters can provide.
Myth #2: Internal Staff can Access and Vette Candidates as well as an Executive Search Firm
While this belief is prevalent within many companies, a thoughtful analysis will prove the opposite. Retained executive recruiters make a living by finding talent that companies cannot find on their own. While in-house resources may be effective for lower level and even some middle level roles, when it comes to functional leadership or key critical roles, retained search firms are not limited to C-levels. it makes sense for hiring managers to give themselves every opportunity to interview the very best candidates to make better hiring decisions.
Internal recruiters typically spend their time vetting applicants who apply or can be found through online portals. Think about it – in a less than 4% unemployment world we live in, the best candidates are simply not found that way. Retained search firms focus on finding superior candidates who are successful in their present situation and can show similar expertise, accomplishments, and skills relevant to the role you need to fill. This very different methodology results in a very different level of candidate.
A Solid Assessment Method Enables You to Make Better Hiring Decisions
Moreover, retained search firms look at many other factors, such as discovery and validation of candidates’ industry relationships – with internal customers, as well as suppliers and eternal customers. In addition, seasoned executive recruiters do not focus on “corporate culture”. Why is simple. Each team that a candidate will be hired within is unique.
Therefore using psychometrics to discover and measure this team members as stakeholders of the role allows the executive recruiter to measure values and motivations, real and situational communications skills as well as the traits within conflict resolution, problem solving, and decision making. This Team Profile allows executive recruiters to then conduct behavioral interviews and scientific testing of potential candidates to make sure they are only a role fit, but a team fit as well.
Finally, the ability to call proven performers with direct competitors to discuss career options is a significant factor in what sets external professional recruiters apart from internal recruiters or HR people. Having the ability to reach out to these peak performers offers hiring managers access to highly-sought-after candidates they would never see otherwise in order to make better hiring decisions
In part 2, we will discuss HR Orientation including onboarding process that do and do not work, as well as pros and cons of having human resources and/or hiring managers making employment offers.
The truth of the matter when engaging a retained search firm for multiple key staffing needs is they produce far better candidates, have much deeper relationships in the industry they are working in and have a search process that in the end delivers candidates who can meet or exceed the objectives of the role in which they are hired into.
Many company’s HR and Talent Acquisition groups think more short term than long term when it comes to staffing critical roles. The long term strategy is most often used – a combination of career site branding, job boards and job aggregators, LinkedIn talent solutions, and using multiple contingency search firms to help build a large database of potential candidates.
What is missing is that for critical roles that must be filled with quality new hires, the long-term strategy rarely works. Even though using RPOs and contingency search firms will result in the most resumes, it is pure folly to believe quality is the main driver produced by those outsourced means. Therefore, engaging a retained search firm is the best of all options when outside recruitment help is needed.
Let’s look at the recognized statistics in the global workforce. The majority of all workers – approximately 55%, are “C players”. They are literally just bodies taking up space.
They show up on time, can perform assigned tasks assigned such as software or QA engineer, customer service, inside sales, operations, manufacturing and production roles. But the reality is that they don’t develop intellectual property or design anything new;
They are not problem solvers, entrepreneurial or creative and contribute virtually nothing to increasing market share or improving P&L ratios. In addition, many “C players” are just not good employees. Often a lack of upwardly mobile skills, education, and more equates to lack of motivation outside of a repetitive paycheck.
Next are the “B players” who make up to 35% of the workforce, have real education and skills, contribute to developing IP, producing revenues, or some other vital contribution. However, the cream of the crop is approximately 14% of the workforce known as “A players”. From janitor to CEO every type of role has their “A players”. What is so great about hiring them? Leadership IQ and SHRM have developed studies and surveys that demonstrate that “A” players” produce 8 to 10 TIMES MORE than even “B players”.
Reasons for Engaging a Retained Search Firm
With over 30 years of experience in the executive search business, we have rarely seen contingency search firms or RPOs deliver “A players” and have no consistency in delivering “B players” for clients to consider. How do we know this?
- In a less than a 5% unemployment rate environment, most exceptional professionals are happy where they are now in terms of their role, their employer, and compensation. If they were to become passive candidates and look to make a change due to desiring new challenges or relocation, they would simply network and reach out to hiring managers in their industry directly. They rarely look at job postings and have no need to post their resume to a job board. They will not fill out an online application on any company career web site. They are bombarded with emails, InMail’s, and calls every day from corporate recruiters and contingency search firms who generally speaking fail to understand these professionals will likely only speak or reply to an actual executive hiring manager or a retained executive search consultant with a solid reputation among industry Board of Directors and CXOs.
- Contingency and RPO firms rely heavily on job postings and job aggregators. But many of those applicants are the unemployable, unemployed, or “C players”.
- In large contingency search firms the recruiters are graded on the number of send outs (resumes that need to be sent daily to meet a quota). And RPOs have a LOT of clients. Ask yourself, as a client, how much of a priority are you to a recruiter working on 12 to 25 searches at a time? What type of quality and search process would you expect?
I’m not knocking contingency recruiters. I used to be one before I changed to retained almost 20 years ago. Why did I make that move? One, I realized to really have clients as a priority and deliver a superior service, I personally could only work on 3 to 4 searches at a time. To do more than that means both the client and my reputation suffer. Two, with using a search process that was very sound I knew the methodology would unearth those “A players” so I could assess and deliver proof that the shortlisted candidates I presented could meet or exceed the expectations and objectives of the role and client required of the new hire.
As for cost and benefit analysis, the benefits of using retained search is overwhelming while the costs are not much different than contingency search fees.
- When looking to engaging a retained search firm, you are assured that the vetting and development process are superior as you usually receive only 3-4 shortlisted candidates for each role.
- Retained Search provides detailed interview and assessments including current / prior KPIs, depth of industry relationships, and similar accomplishments relevant to the new role.
- Team fit analysis and Target Candidate Profile – by conducting brief online surveys of the stakeholders for each role (team the role will work within and key internal customers), a team profile allows the recruiter to use behavioral analysis and assessment to determine how the potential candidate will fit in and affect team dynamics. One-way behavioral testing of candidates never works as it fails to have anything to measure against.
- Much longer retention of new hires from retained search firms. For instance, 94% of our placements are still working for that client after 4.5 years.
- Superior Replacement guarantee – most contingency firms incorporate a 30 to 90 days refund or replacement. Retained search firms are often 6 to 12 months. We believe in our process so much that we offer 24 to 36 months replacement guarantee depending on the assignment.
- Success based search fees – this is relatively new for retained search firms but a practice we have used for the last 5 years. With most large retained search firms, you pay 100% of the fee regardless if the outcome was successful. Other search firms like NextGen Global Executive Search are performance based. After the initial deposit, the remainder of the fees are paid based on deliverables, including the hire.
- Flat based fees – this is also a relatively new concept. This arose out of the obvious conflict of interest associated with compensation-based search fees. If the recruiter negotiated a higher compensation that was agreed to by both client and candidate, the search fee increased. While some retained search firms use the same fee for every search on a flat fee basis, at NextGen we realized we are being paid for our work. Therefore the basis of the flat fee is appropriate to each role depending on factors such as limitations on relocation, the actual candidate pool size, the number of hours expected in research, search strategy, recruiting, and delivery.
For instance we have clients in the Bay area, NYC and Boston who funny as it sounds believe few exist outside their geography that are worthy of consideration as they often think of themselves as the center of the technology universe. Additionally, for some roles the candidate pool overall is small such as AI architects and power electronics design engineers.
Engaging a Retained Search Firm for filling multiple roles
As retained search firms are like good lawyers and executive management consultants, we ask for a deposit,. This means the client is a priority as they have “skin in the game”, knowing the search firm has a track record in longer retention and producing exceptional new hires. So, the overall flat search fees mean that engaging a retained search firm is clearly the best choice.
The big challenges in the recruiting is that great talent is in short supply and most talent acquisition strategies are broken. Executive hiring managers are interested in ONLY one thing - whether internal or external the ability to not only Identify, but to recruit exceptional talent. When you evaluate an executive search firm, look for two things. One do you have the capacity to perform research to identify target competitors and passive candidates, and two, do they have experience in cold calling, a deep network, and reputation of getting referrals?
Most Companies Fail to Properly Evaluate an Executive Search Firm
Most common is to go with the big name search firm. The issue there is you pay a full fee regardless of outcome, other than the principals teh recruiting force is a revolving door, and a bad track record in retention. Secondly, if you are a startup to mid-cap you really need the expertise of a team that specializes in your industry; known as niche recruiting. Most big name search firms work across all industries without specialization. while that diversity may work for a CFO or Board role, it falters with lack of a deep network within your industry.
What you should look for is a retained search firm that not only has the industry expertise but has a sound evidence-based recruitment process management system utilizing Ai predictive validity. It all begins with a discovery step where the search strategy is built upon defining the objectives of the role and learning what the role with do with the required skills, not just the having of them.
Next is using scientifically based psychometric to determine team dynamics and thus the search form can then develop a target candidate profile and custom search strategy. A great recruiter will define prior desired accomplishments in a similar environment and make sure candidates are screened who have similar. Rather than accepting verbatim the experience and skills required, a good recruiter will drill down to ascertain in what environment and product / service those skills are used in , again further screening candidates to validate they actually can meet the objectives of the role.
The Job of Hiring Managers to Evaluate an Executive Search Firm
For almost 30 years, we often run into Hiring Managers that say just send them resumes and they will determine which candidates to interview. Which of course begs the question, why would you be paying a search fee? You can simply hire an RPO to troll job boards or have HR post job openings to dozens of web sites. Great hiring managers know three things:
- They don't have the time to go through an in-basket full of unqualified resumes
- They know that the one-size-fits-all resume is perhaps the poorest document ever created. It is generalist, vague, and rarely indicates if the candidate has used required skills WITHIN a similar environment, as well as accomplishments tend to be exaggerated and without verifiable substance.
- Great hiring managers know that professional successful executive search consultants are good at what they do and do not pretend to be a Hiring Manager who may be a CXO or VP of engineering or sales or whatever. So why do so many Hiring Managers assume they are great recruiters? Trust me, in all my years, it is less than 1% who are good at both roles AND those who can do both are very successful startup entrepreneurs in early stage building their executive team.
Finally ALWAYS evaluate an executive search firm by three factors
- Candidate placement retention rate is far and above client retention rate. That is because some companies will prefer the cheapest or who best serves HR rather than the client on the whole. For instance, NextGen has an average 93% in 4.5 years are still working for that client whereas we have lost new searches with the same client to other firms with an average 2 years or less of placement retention.
- The average replacement guarantee for contingency is 30 to 90 days, which of course should alarm you as the confidence in the quality of candidates presented for you to hire just can;t be that good. Basically any average "C player" can be presented and hired and a company not realize in under 90 days wow that hire is just a body filling a space. The average retained is 90 days to 6 months while a very few will go one year. At NextGen we offer a full 24 to 46 months replacement guarantee.
- Executive levels with MBOs - most retained search firm you will pay the entire fee without regards to an actual hire or success within 60 to 120 days. For many they believe you are paying them for their reputation and experience, NOT for their success.
For more information on how to effectively evaluate an executive search firm, download the PDF to compare what NextGen Global Executive Search does to others.