Three’s a crowd?

Three’s a crowd?

Posted 2/8/2020


I’m fine with paying a fee to a search firm for a great person but most retained search firms seem to like to deal with the candidate on my behalf during the interview process. I’d be glad to pay the fee if I hire a person they introduce, but why do they feel they have to be involved all the way through the process? Why can’t I just reach out to the candidate to set up an interview?

-President, , lighting ballast manufacturer

Paul: The answer is, of course, you can do that. However, by ‘bypassing’ your search partner (even if you’ve no problem paying the fee once the candidate is hired), you’re really not availing yourself of some of the key benefits of working with an executive recruiter in the first place. Granted, there are some firms that are referred to in the industry as ‘resume farms’ that specialize in forwarding companies resumes (solicited but often unsolicited, and not always with the candidate’s prior knowledge or approval), and those firms would just as much send you the resume and leave the rest of the work to you. However, the better firms are best utilized as a partner, not a ‘vendor’ in your search. A skilled search expert will stay in close touch with the candidate(s) throughout the entire process (even after acceptance) and will know the questions to ask to find out how truly interested your top candidates are. Being the ‘third person’ doesn’t hurt at all. An excellent executive recruiter can also help to determine if a candidate has another agenda, or has concerns that otherwise might not be identified until it is too late---i.e., after they have turned down your offer. You wouldn’t second-guess your doctor or your attorney or try to manage their processes—don’t do it with your search firm, either.

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