Top Executive Search Firms: 5 Things To Consider Before Using Their Services

top executive search firms

In the Bay Area’s competitive environment, it has become virtually impossible to find the right candidates for mid- to senior-level positions without the help of top executive search firms.

The demand for talent has never been higher. The most sought-after professionals are either out of reach, or the hiring competition is so big that the recruitment process becomes very time-consuming and costly if handled in-house.

It is well known that big businesses have been using recruitment firms for some time now, but with the growing number of startups and mid-sized companies, the services of these firms have changed and diversified.

Nowadays even smaller organizations understand the benefits of executive search firms and use them to find the best candidates as early as company formation.

Executive Search Firms – Your Best Friends

Outsourcing the hiring process to professional headhunters can have various benefits: reaching a bigger number of qualified candidates, minimizing the risk of a bad hire and speeding up the recruitment process.

But where can you find the best executive search firms?

Finding the right recruiter that has a proven track record in the executive acquisition process and understands the nuances of working with top talent is key to making great hires. A few things to consider before you get started:

#1 Focus On Your Industry’s Top Executive Search Firms

First and foremost, try to find the top search firms in your niche and in your area. Niche specific recruiters will have closer relationships with the right people within industry giants and emerging startups as well. If you want to make sure you don’t miss any opportunities, look for a recruitment firm that places people in your industry.

You can start your search by first reaching out to your own network. Most top-level professionals have come across executive search firms throughout their careers so find these people and ask for referrals.

Another great tool is LinkedIn. Use LinkedIn’s advanced search tool to find industry specific headhunters by selecting your location and ‘Staffing and Recruiting’ in the industry category. You can refine the search by adding some keywords or just hit the search button for a comprehensive list.

#2 San Francisco And Bay Area Recruiters

Let’s look at some specifics now. Where to look for top Bay Area recruiters?

Since the recruitment industry heavily relies on connections, finding the right recruitment firm or headhunter in a competitive environment like San Francisco might be quite a bit of challenge.

A few platforms that can help you with the selection process if you find it hard to get personal referrals:

1. LinkedIn. As we have mentioned above, the easiest way to find recruiters in your area is to use LinkedIn’s advanced search for location specific hits.

2. Yelp: Yelp offers you a comprehensive list of recruitment firms with reviews, and you can sort them by highest rated and most reviewed. Reviews can help but keep in mind that they are sometimes written by company insiders. The best solution is always to find someone who had personal experiences with the firm and ask them about their experiences.

3. Quora: You can search their database for keyword-related questions and if you don’t find what you are looking for you can always submit a new question. A lot of professionals are using this platform to establish their authority in their fields so chances are your question will be answered by people who actually know what they are talking about.

Start here: Who are the best recruiters for software engineers in the Bay Area?

4. Millenium Search: If you are searching in the Bay Area for top technology executives, reach out to us through our technology executive search form.

#3 Networking Is The Key

If you want to have the best candidates when you need them, it is crucial to have an ongoing relationship with your industry’s top executive search firms.

If you have no established connections and can’t get any referrals, start attending professional events, find networking opportunities with executives and ask them about their recruitment experiences. Look for reputable recruitment industry outlets on the web and reach out to the top influencers in the field.

The best way to initiate a valuable relationship still lies in the power of personal referrals.

Make sure to build out a few connections while you have a solid company structure. If headhunters already know you by the time you really need them, they will more likely refer the best candidates to you.

#4 Run a Background Check

Before using recruitment services, make sure to do a quick background check by finding people the firm has already placed in your industry. Contact a few ex-candidates to better understand the recruitment process, their methods to approach candidates, and the ways they present their offer.

There are a few additional efficiency metrics you should probably be aware of before setting up a meeting with a consultant: days to first submittal, days to fill a position, submittal to interview efficiency ratio, interview to offer efficiency ratio, offer to close efficiency ratio, diversity ratio, retention percentage and average salary of filled positions.

#5 Make Sure They Understand Your Needs

After you found the search firm you want to work with, it is very important to make sure they understand your needs.

They must have a clear picture of the responsibilities, experiences, and qualifications the role requires. They also need to understand the company culture, the specific problem you face with the empty position and you must be 100% transparent with all the information you provide.

Craft a report with a detailed role description for the position in question. The best way to make a job description useful for the recruiter is to include your company narrative and a brief company culture along with a detailed list of skills and qualifications needed.

Recruiters will only be able to find the most suitable candidate if you give them the whole story. Making the job description more personal helps the recruiter and future candidates relate to the position emotionally, and can be very motivating, too.

Also, try to stay factual but try to avoid the following mistakes:

1. Using numbers instead of words. Numbers are what will eventually establish your authority in the industry but they are not a big help if you want to make your job description emotionally relatable.

2. Not tailoring your job description for the specific type of candidate you are looking for. Being vague and emphasizing a wide variety of skills is not a good strategy in case of search firms. Help recruiters find just the right person by providing them with a highly relevant set of skills and requirements for the role.

3. Being boring. The search firm will eventually help you craft the best job description, but make sure you add a personal voice to the company narrative and don’t be afraid to brag. Don’t forget that your job description is ultimately a sales pitch.

Finding the top San Francisco recruiters and building out relationships with them should be part of your long-term company plan. You should always be on the lookout for opportunities to network with the top executive search consultants and –especially in case of startups- help them notice your presence in the industry.

Do you have any experience with headhunters in San Francisco? Have you been working with any of the top executive search firms? What were your experiences? Tell us in comments.

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