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Why You Need To Work With A Retained Search Firm That Values Online Collaboration

Christian Spletzer - April 23, 2019

Traditionally, clients on Executive Search projects have been kept in the loop via weekly status calls and reports compiled from a variety of data sources. While this approach has long been the accepted standard, it can be problematic at best and more likely threatening to the project’s overall success at worst. There’s a better way for recruiters and their clients to collaborate on retained searches—one that significantly increases the likelihood of success.

Traditional methods can lead to inefficiency and lost time.

As a client, you are highly reliant on the recruiter to produce the right information for you to adequately monitor the progress of a search. This reliance becomes especially challenging as the search progresses over weeks and then months, creating a myriad of details to keep track of. On top of that, you must blindly trust that they’re actually doing the things you expect them to do. For example, if a search started heading in the wrong direction due to your lack of insight and input, you wouldn’t necessarily know it until a significant amount of time and effort had been wasted. This effort not only adds more time to an already long, critical process but increases the likelihood that the project could end in failure—forcing you to start the process all over again.

I once heard a client describe working with an executive recruiter much like the Wizard from The Wizard of Oz. There was little visibility of what was going on “behind the curtain” throughout the search. One of the main challenges is that communication can become very one-sided and focused on the wrong metrics. In this scenario, weekly status calls have a bad habit of falling into the pattern of clients having to ask, "What did you do this week?", to which recruiters often focus on how busy they've been by quantifying the number of calls made, emails sent, or resumes received. Unfortunately, these types of activities are relatively unimportant to the big picture of quickly placing a quality candidate.  

Retained search is most successful when it is conducted like a consulting project. And with any good consulting project, the client must remain informed on the right metrics and engaged throughout. Moreover, clients should have visibility to and be in alignment with the search firm’s methodology and collaborative search strategy. To get the best results, recruiters and their clients must have the means to consistently share pertinent information to make important decisions together.  

That’s where online collaboration comes in.

In today’s online world, clients and search firms need transparent access to all relevant pieces of information at all times to get the best results from the search. The days of waiting for your recruiter to provide what you hope is the right information is now an antiquated process. Online collaboration gives clients 24/7 access and insight into activities such as which candidates are being researched by the search firm and what findings have been generated. In essence, the online platform IS the reporting mechanism, which you can access real-time whenever you wantnot just once a week.

This scenario transforms the dynamics of those traditional weekly status calls. Because they can already see the activity being performed, clients can focus on the bigger and more appropriate question, "How is the search going?". Recruiters are more apt to focus on better metrics like how many candidates match the search criteria and where they are in the recruiting funnel, and it facilitates the ability for clients to easily provide feedback and initiate key strategic adjustments. This collaboration helps move the search forward in a way that’s more efficient and effective. And that, of course, is the main goal of any given search: running it in the most seamless way possible to find the best candidate for the role.

Online collaboration is proven to be more successful.

Simply put, online collaboration guarantees an increased level of efficiency and effectiveness over the old, one-sided process. As our Executive Search Performance Benchmark Report shows, retained search projects with online collaboration have a 21% greater chance of ending with a successful placement.

It only makes sense, then, that you would want to partner with a firm that realizes the importance of operating with optimum efficiency and adds value by being more likely to help you land a quality placement sooner. Firms who don’t want to adopt collaborative online technology in favor of sticking to familiar – yet outdated – process and tools are keeping themselves a step behind and doing you a disservice.

In the end, all that really matters is placing the best candidate in an efficient manner. It’s irrelevant for firms to use pretty weekly reports to make it seem like they’re working really hard for their clients, but doing so without your adequate input and oversight.

How to find a firm that uses online collaboration.

While you’re vetting search firms, the most straightforward way to find out is to simply ask. You can ask them if they run their searches using online collaboration, and if so, what the process and expectations are for your participation. If they don’t, you should clarify what their process is, how you access information throughout the search, and how you’re expected to provide necessary guidance and feedback along the way.

Another easy way is utilizing the Clockwork Network's free service to not only find firms that value and use online collaboration, but who have demonstrated a consistent track record of efficiently and effectively conducting the specific type of search you need. Essentially, it replaces the subjective decision-making method based solely on a sales pitch or word-of-mouth referral with a one based on verifiable performance data history that can better predict the likelihood of speed and success.

Ultimately, the use of online collaboration shouldn’t be the sole determinant factor of whether or not to use a particular search firm. It should involve many other factors, including whether the firm specializes in the role and industry your search entails. But after many, many years in this business, I do believe that online collaboration is essential to you landing the best candidate. It increases your chance of success—plain and simple.

Christian Spletzer

Christian Spletzer

After years of working as an executive recruiter, Christian Spletzer founded Clockwork to improve how search firms and clients work together on retained search projects. He designed Clockwork to help recruiters demonstrate their consultative value to their clients at every stage of each project.

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