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Perspective: Primary Goal When Engaging A Search Firm?

Rubic or Hexagon of Triangles?
Hexagon, triangles, or rubic? What’s your goal?

Engaging a search firm? As more firms jump in the crowded field of direct-hire staffing, search, recruitment and placement, several critical factors converge at an increasing pace.

This blog is for hiring companies with publicly-posted values and an ethical compass steering the rudder. This blog is for most companies.

Simply stated, the primary goal when engaging a search firm is to purchase a service that accelerates achieving a corporate objective. It is more than just collecting a stack of online résumés.

The keyword is “purchase.” which involves paying for that service. It’s a fair and ethical exchange of value for a service fee.

Goal vs. Distractions

It’s easy to engage in petty arguments of “who first submitted the résumé,” or “did the client have a résumé in their ATS from 4 years ago?” Such nonsense reveals true character and distracts everyone’s focus on achieving the corporate objective. Such distractions reduces the likelihood of a successful hire and ultimately negatively affects business results. If your search firm resurrects interest in an overlooked candidate, they created value that would otherwise be overlooked.

Search Firm Value

Search firms create and deliver value that accelerates business results through hiring in many ways:

  1. Identify core corporate objectives for hiring through formal discovery.
  2. Iterate and refine core objectives as they evolve throughout the process.
  3. Accelerate and drive the hiring process, shortening time to business results.
  4. Access a larger and better pool of active candidates.
  5. Reach passive candidates otherwise not accessible to clients directly.
  6. Qualify the best candidates through dozens of hours of interactive screening activity.
  7. Evaluate and test skills objectively through a variety of tools not available to every client.
  8. Stack rank only the best candidates available under the client’s constraints.
  9. Coach and persuade candidates on the potential the position provides to meet their career goals.
  10. Present and convey candidates on the broader opportunity and benefits of the client company.
  11. Submit, schedule, coordinate and track interviews.
  12. Make offer(s) of employment.
  13. Reduce barriers and objections.
  14. Handle and coach through counter-offers.
  15. …and many other points of value in the process toward success.

The value delivered by a search firm will accelerate the outcome. In addition, the work of a good recruiter motivates all parties to accomplish this goal. The final outcome may be promoting from within, or even hiring a candidate presented by another search firm.

Competent vs. Reckless

What is not acceptable to anyone involved is to leverage this motivation and recklessly abuse the search firm’s time and effort without compensation or as though recruiting is just Google search and throwing résumés over the wall hoping something will stick. What if your clients and customers treated you firm that way regarding the service you provide?

Competent search firms go through a deep discovery process to learn exactly what business objective or organizational development need must be fulfilled. Best in class search firms are your partner and bring with them an effective process. They have a deep cultural interest in collaboratively driving their client’s objectives – yours! Questions to ask: If your search firm does not do this, what is their real value? Résumés? If you don’t want these points of value, is it a fair and ethical exchange of value?

Lesser search firms have a process that collects a client’s job description, calls it a “job order.” After uploading in their CRM, they ignite a keyword search on the internet to download online résumés and call them “submittals.” Minimum screening/vetting, if any is done – they just pay the numbers game to see what “sticks.” Ask that firm what their clients corporate objectives are? They won’t know.

The industry contributes to this quandary. Many new inexperienced firms get sucked into these arrangements by unscrupulous clients every day. This short-sighted-ness gives recruiting a bad reputation in candidate and client minds alike.


Don’t lose perspective: Know the primary goal when engaging a search firm. And, keep perspective all through the process and well understood among all parties involved. It’s a fair and ethical exchange.