You have a problem. You need to find the next great senior hire to help your business get to the next level in achieving your commercial goals. You are flat out, you need to focus on other things: delivering the business plan, working on the next investment round, looking at areas for new market growth, leading the team. You need to recruit quality, but you need to do so quickly.

What do you do?

 Do you (A) turn to contingent recruiters?

Obvious isn’t it, you share your ‘problem’ with lots of contingent recruiters. If a problem shared is a problem halved, how much less is your problem if four, five or six recruiters are looking for you? Drive a low fee, get them to compete, sit back and wait for the CVs to fly in.

Contingency recruitment works on speed and quick wins. When you engage one (or more) recruitment companies non-exclusively, and with no upfront fee, 100% of the risk is taken by the recruiter. They could spend dozens of hours, days and weeks, working on your assignment, and if you don’t recruit from them, they get nothing. Lots of work and effort, zero income. That’s the deal, that’s why it’s tempting as a hiring company to work that way.

But if all the risk lies with the recruiter, what impact will this have on the quality and depth of the search? In your business, how much time would you allow your team to spend on ‘work’ with no guarantee of payment? Clearly the more companies involved, the less likely you are to win. How much time can you afford to risk for the possible income? What about the size of the potential deal? The smaller the possible fee, the less time you can afford to risk.

Of course, there are some contingent recruitment companies who do this well, but they do, I promise you, all work on the risk/reward basis. They have to, they are a business. If they can’t fill your role quickly with candidates they already have on their database, or ones scooped from job boards or a LinkedIn search, or who happen to see an advertisement, then they have to move onto the next job assignment.

Of course if you’ve got them screwed to a really low fee, and your role isn’t easy to fill, how much time do you think they spend on filling it (despite what they may tell you). The model only works this way. The higher the potential fee and the less ‘competition’ to place the role, the more time they might risk. But the time that a contingent recruiter can give to a search can only go so far because the model only works on quick turnaround. Can we place this quickly? No, ok, on to the next assignment. Most will tell you for sure they are working hard to find someone, in reality this means they’ve chucked an advert on a job board and are praying for a lucky break.

So you see, your problem isn’t halved, or quartered, it’s quadrupled. Now not only do you not have the quality talent in your team that you need, you’ve also got to fend off countless recruiter calls and sift through endless CVs in the hope some may come close to what you need.

And there are other challenges with the contingent approach.

Let’s say you want to see a candidate whose CV you have received, but he or she is ‘no longer available’. The truth is probably they were never asked if they were interested in your role or your company, the CV just got sent on the off chance. No time for qualification of the candidate, just send the CV, before someone else does.

Or maybe you interview a candidate and he or she knows nothing about your company or the job, or worse still is completely misinformed about your company and job. Why is that? The candidates fault, sometimes maybe, but certainly not always. They’ve been told very little, or a few little mistruths, just to get them to go to your interview (they’ve got interview targets to hit). This just wastes everybody’s time.

Ultimately, contingency recruitment is all about safety in numbers and law of averages; speed over quality, time over essence. And yes, some companies do this very professionally and successfully. But they will never provide the level of service or the quality of candidates as when you work exclusively.

The contingent model dictates that as a client, you get a compromise. You may have no ties, commitments or upfront costs, but you don’t get the best of anything, or anyone. You play the numbers game, sometimes you get lucky, mostly you compromise on quality.

 Or do you (B) work with a retained search consultant?

The alternative is to work exclusively with one search partner on an ‘retained’ basis, typically with an upfront financial commitment and an agreement to work with them exclusively to find the perfect candidate.

A good retained search should be all about finding the best people for the role(s), with candidates offering not only the right technical or commercial skills and experience, but the right cultural fit to step into the company and be successful. Retained search is less about speed and quantity of CVs; it’s about a structured, deep search to unearth the best candidates for your business. It’s also about guiding you and your candidates through the entire hiring journey: through the research and interview stages, the offer and negotiations, and finally making sure the candidate arrives in good shape for the first day in their new role. Retained search is about value.

With an exclusive recruitment partnership, you get the benefits of shared risk and shared commitment. By committing to us as your search partner, we can fully commit the time and resources to finding you the perfect candidate. You won’t just get the first handful of CVs straight from a database fired over to you; instead, you get a tailored and structured recruitment strategy with regular communication and updates. Because we have the assurance (commitment) and financial input (resource), we dedicate a team to find you the ideal candidate.

A typical retained search assignment plan with Hyperion would start with you being assigned a lead consultant who will manage the search from start to finish. The search process would then typically follow five stages:

  1. Define the key priorities of the search.  We work closely with you to define the skills, personality and experience that are required for the position. We will challenge and assumptions that you might have, offering alternative ideas based on our broad experience.
  2. Agree the search strategy.  We develop a target list of companies where potential candidates might be located. This is supplemented by referrals from contacts and partners; we also look at comparable sectors to find quality talent.
  3. Candidate attraction and evaluation.  We reach out to potential candidates, including those passive candidates who might not be looking for a new job, who are too busy doing a great job for their present employer to be looking around, but who are open to the right opportunity, presented in the right way. Candidates are evaluated based on skills and experience, and crucially whether they have the right cultural fit for the company. After initial video interviews we develop a shortlist of the most suitable and interested candidates.
  4. Shortlist presentation and client interviews.  Shortlisted candidates are presented with detailed written interview assessments. We support with additional insights on each candidate’s track record and achievements. Our role is to be the trusted and unbiased communicator between you the client and candidate. We manage the interviews, coordinating candidates to be in the right place and ensuring both parties are prepped. If required, psychometric testing is also included at this key stage.
  5. Completion of the assignment.  With the preferred candidate selected, we reference check and support you with contract negotiation and start dates. We also support the candidate through the difficult resignation process.

In short, we manage and support our clients and candidates throughout the search and recruitment process. This is about providing value at every stage, building trusted relationships and making the process as positive and efficient as possible.

This level of service is not possible from a non-exclusive, contingent recruiter, despite what they might say. The contingency model just doesn’t allow for it, no matter how good the company concerned are.

“Hiring the best is your most important task”.

So said Steve Jobs, and you will not be surprised to hear that we agree. Hiring the best talent for senior hires in particular is too important to get wrong. Removing and replacing a ‘mis-hire’ is costly and disruptive, especially at a time when you need to be focused on leading and growing your business.

When you are looking for your next senior hires, you should only consider retained search with a specialist consultant who truly understands your market and is committed to finding you the best talent. Done well, this gives real value, less risk and the confidence that you will find the right people to accelerate your commercial success.

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