The Beginner’s Guide to Working with a Search Firm

For hiring managers who have never had the opportunity to partner with a search firm, the idea can seem a little foreign. It can be confusing trying to determine what the recruiter’s role will be, what information you need to provide for them, and what to expect from the whole partnership. If you are considering working with a search firm for the first time, there are a few foundational things that you can do to ensure a meaningful partnership.

Be Forthcoming

This can’t be stressed enough. Your recruiter should be your partner. After all, it is in their best interests to find you the right candidate, so you truly have a common goal. For this reason, you should be comfortable telling them everything that they need to know about the position they are helping you to fill. You should tell them the good, the bad, and the ugly. Give them any relevant background about your organization. Tell them about the personalities of those they’ll be working closely with. The more information given to your recruiter, the more effective they can be in getting you the talent you are looking for. Don’t hold back!

Ask for Advice

Many times, hiring managers don’t take full advantage of the consultative resource that a good staffing partner can be. Recruiters focus on talent all day every day, so if you have any questions about the process, the search, or the market in general, don’t hesitate to use them as a trusted resource. If you’re uncertain about how you should handle any part of the search, asking your recruiter for advice can be a simple and effective way to gain perspective.

Set Expectations

Setting expectations early and often is critical to a mutually beneficial partnership. It is especially important if you aren’t accustomed to the process of partnering with search firms.  Tell your recruiting partners what you expect from them and what they can expect from you (your response times, your availability to interview their candidates, etc.). Clarify and qualify as much as you can, and continue to revisit these expectations as you progress through the process. This act alone should go a long way towards helping you demystify your new partnership.

By following these few guidelines, you are setting yourself up for success in working with a search firm. Your new recruiting partners will be thankful that you have been so forthcoming and communicative. They will clearly understand what is expected of them and will be able to help you understand what they expect from you. You may even find that they can be a fantastic resource, not simply a candidate generation tool. These steps are ideal for those new to the process, but even for veterans, they are good habits to revisit and engage in. As you consider working with a search firm, set yourself up for success and ensure that you get the most out of the experience.


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