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Geremy Cepin

Having Trouble Finding the Talent You Need?

How executive search firms can uncover candidates you didn’t even know were looking.

December 20, 2007
by Geremy Cepin

For a variety of reasons, many accounting firms think they don’t need to work with an executive search firm. Some may be large enough to have a recruiter on staff or have HR professionals who can place ads and qualify candidates. Others may call on a staffing or recruitment agency to provide candidates for their open positions. But the smart ones contact a firm that specializes in conducting executive searches. Why?

Here are four reasons to consider using a professional search firm to find the talent you need:

  1. To contact competing firms without incurring their anger.
    Let’s face it: Accounting firms are constantly raiding each other for qualified professionals. But if you or your staff call upon potential candidates at a competing firm, you can expect some angry calls back from the competing firm’s top management or you may find it more difficult to get referrals from them and their network of professional contacts.

    By having an executive search firm do your “dirty work,” you can remove yourself from direct contact with competitors and legitimately say you didn’t know that the recruiter was going to call on potential candidates at their firms. This helps protect you from retaliation of one sort or another.

  2. To make sure the job fits the candidate as much as the candidate fits the job.
    In-house recruiters, as well as many staffing agencies, tend to focus on evaluating a potential candidate’s suitability for a given position. So they pay little attention to how well a position fits the candidate’s needs and preferences, assuming that he or she will address that question.

    For an executive search specialist, determining how well the job fits the candidate is as important as qualifying the candidate for the job. As a result, when a firm hires a candidate the search specialist refers, it typically enjoys an easier and quicker ramp-up time, retains the candidate longer and ends up with a professional who really contributes to the firm’s success.

    Because search specialists have a highly developed sense of whether a candidate will fit a position — and vice versa — they excel at creating a “fit-fit” situation that both the client firm and the candidate are happy with.

  3. To save time, money and effort.
    An executive search specialist typically works on a contingent-fee basis. So you pay no fee up-front and incur no out-of-pocket costs for listings, phone calls, interviews or other search and qualification activities. And if you don’t hire a candidate the search firm recommends, you never pay anything.

    Plus, your staff doesn’t have to spend hours and hours of their time trying to identify, qualify and recruit candidates — only to come up empty-handed. Simply put, using a search firm is a no-obligation, low-risk, high-reward way to find the talent you need for upper level positions.

  4. To find passive candidates and hidden opportunities.
    Because an executive search firm is constantly calling upon accounting professionals to see if they might be interested in advancing their careers, it often uncovers “passive” candidates — those who are not actively looking for a different position, but who become interested when they hear about the opening the recruiter is trying to fill. In many cases, these “weren’t even looking” candidates are the ones who best meet a client’s talent needs. If you rely only on those a staffing agency refers to you, you may never even know they exist.

Executive search specialists can often uncover “hidden opportunities” for their clients to add highly-qualified accounting professionals to their firms, even though they are not currently looking for them. For example, in calling upon a potential candidate about a position with a client in New York, the recruiter may learn that the person would prefer a similar position in Miami. If the client has an office in Miami, it might be interested in the candidate because he or she would bring expertise that would create opportunities for the firm to offer services it currently cannot provide. Such “opportunistic” candidates can be a great addition to a firm — and might otherwise never be found.

Give Your Firm the Search Advantage

The next time you need mid- to upper-level professionals with solid experience in tax, audit or other accounting and consulting services, contact an executive search firm. You’ll not only save time and money, you’ll end up with candidates who fit your needs better, stay with your firm longer and give you a greater competitive advantage. And you’ll probably get the talent you need faster, as well.

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Geremy Cepin is National Director, Executive Search & Placement Services, at PDI Global. For more about PDI Global’s executive search and recruitment services or to discuss your needs and help you find recruits that enable you to turn more of your potential into profit, contact Cepin at 312-245-1755.