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7 Questions You should Ask Every Search Partner

As you consider whether to use an outside search partner, these questions can help you navigate various industry practices and trade offs.

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Jan 17, 2024
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Last updated on Dec 16, 2022

Talent teams have been facing growing capacity challenges, especially for business-critical senior recruiting needs in a hiring market that is still competitive. As you consider whether to use an outside search partner for your leadership roles and what the tradeoffs will be, here are seven questions we recommend asking of each firm and facts around each point to look out for: 

1. What is your average time to fill a role?
Fact: the industry average to fill an executive role is 120 days (4 months)

2. What is your average active req load per recruiter?
Fact: some firms have as many as 15 active roles per recruiter at any one time.

3. Do you have operator experience in your search firm?
Fact: many search teams are comprised only of recruiters who have never started or led companies as operators

4. Do you have a “no poach” list of companies you can’t recruit from?

Fact: many firms have a large client list of companies they cannot source from due to conflict of interest that limits their possible pool.

5. Who can we expect to actively be engaged on our search team?
Fact: many firms delegate the majority of the search to junior team members and don’t have senior leaders actively engaged.

6. What is your experience or track record on diversity?
Fact: many search firms have little to no diversity representation on in their own leadership and have no data to show results on diversity of candidates

7. Do you have any quality control process or checks built into the engagement?
Fact: most search firms have no formal progress checks or quality review process built into their engagements.

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus perhaps best set the stage for 2023 when he said: "change is the only constant in life." While there are many uncertainties ahead for the new year, talent leaders seem to agree that the path ahead will depend on strong partnerships. As your organization considers partnering with search firms to hire your senior leaders, we recommend setting a high bar and probing on each of these 7 questions above. We know that engaging a search partner is not a small expense but that the cost of a bad hire is far more expensive. This makes it all the more critical you have the best partner that is aligned to your needs in every way.  

Want to learn more about partnering with a search firm? Reach out to Plenty or sign up for a Complimentary Recruiting Strategy Session.

Register here for a complimentary executive briefing with Plenty’s seasoned recruiting leaders to scope your upcoming searches, gain insights on the state of the market and strategies to stand out to candidates. 

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