by Rebecca Patt, Senior Vice President of Development, Wray Executive Search
A good executive recruiter is invaluable for helping companies hire a dream team. But how do you know what traits are important to look for in recruiting the best recruiter? Here are six key traits to look for:
- They specialize in your industry niche. Almost all recruiters have an industry niche. A niche focus offers many benefits: it means that a recruiter will have abundant contacts in the industry who can give them a jump start on reaching the right people. The recruiter will have a track record of successful placements and have earned a trusted reputation within the industry that can help open doors. They will have intelligence on the competitive landscape and be in tuned into changes in corporate leadership and direction, mergers and acquisitions, layoffs, etc. For high-level hiring, finding a recruiter with the right industry niche is more important than a geographical focus. A good recruiter will be adept at finding candidates in their specialty even for a far-flung location.
- They have a process. When you give an executive recruiter a search assignment, do you know what steps they will take to deliver? A good recruiter will want you to feel totally informed and comfortable with their process, and they will be upfront with you about what to expect. Like any business, executive recruiting is a matter of refining systems and methodologies. A good recruiter anticipates and has a plan for the many details involved in successful recruiting, everything from gathering the position specifications to contacting passive candidates from relevant competitors to counseling the hired candidate on how to smoothly resign from his or her current position.
- They have professional training. Ask any recruiter you are considering what kind of recruiting-specific training they’ve had. You might be surprised to find that there are many individuals who hang up a recruiting shingle with little-to-no training in the fundamentals. Beyond the essential “Recruiting 101,” there are a thousand lessons for a recruiter to master about how to excel at making placements and avoid mediocrity and unpleasant surprises for the client. A good recruiter will learn some of this art and science through experience, and they will also be a dedicated student, seeking out the best mentors and training opportunities and staying on top of the evolution of the search business.
- They work on retainer. As the cliché goes, you get what you pay for. While retained and contingency recruiters have the same goal, to place candidates, engaging a recruiter on a retained, exclusive basis is more conducive to receiving a customized, comprehensive search. Retained recruiters typically have more experience, provide a higher level of service and consultation, and work on higher-level assignments.
- They are outstanding communicators. A good recruiter is an excellent listener who is full of insightful questions. They are as easy to confide in as a shrink and just as serious about maintaining discretion. They are also able to hear what goes unspoken because they have honed a strong intuitive sense about people. They are sensitive enough to step into the shoes of their clients and candidates to understand their needs and confident enough to offer honest, objective guidance and to negotiate deals. They are assertive enough to reach anyone.
- They bring the WOW factor. A good recruiter wakes up every day thinking about how they are going to do what they promised to do for a search AND how they are going to give an extra 25% to lavish their clients with service and value. In managing what can often be a huge event for a company, they are committed to not only getting results, but to fostering peace-of-mind and being there for their clients long after the search is finished.
Rebecca Patt specializes in retained executive search for the restaurant industry with Wray Executive Search. Need to hire an ace executive for your team? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.