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The Worst of Times or the Best of Times?

Posted By: Mike Fitzgerald | Posted on: 07-15-2013

There are an unprecedented number of good people on the street with portfolios in hand, aggressively looking for work. It seems every company, big and small, can wallpaper conference rooms with the unsolicited resumes they receive each day. Online job sites, executive coaches and career fairs are popping up more frequently than congressional hearings and bailout plans. And some once-busy executive recruiters are opening the office mail….or working on their golf handicaps. Is this the end of the retained search industry? Yes, it is–but only of retained search as we know it now.

This perfect storm will likely be a good thing in the long run–perfect for the client, and perfect for the boutique (smaller, more specialized) executive search firms that weather the storm. Granted, the retained search business may never be the same, but it won’t die. There will always be C-level executives who want to drop the name of a global retained search firm in the board room. But more and more leaders will turn to the strategic advantages of boutiques that are willing to drive change in the retained executive search model. It is change that may be well overdue.

The core value in any search firm is its existing network of qualified candidates and its ability to navigate through channels to find and engage the people they don’t already know. Boutiques bring even more value to the table. A partner at a boutique search firm often has a better understanding of the business challenges you face every day because he sat on your side of the desk at some point in his career. Or, because she manages fewer client relationships, she can focus on the execution of your search needs, not on feeding the production machine in a large search firm. Boutiques offer equal or greater value in their networks, simply because they’re closer to them. They have fewer hands-off restrictions (companies they can’t recruit from because they’re also clients) than large firms, because they work with fewer clients. They don’t bill clients for their overhead expenses. The partners typically manage each search personally. And boutiques can be much more flexible in the terms of their search agreements.

Fitzgerald MSI is one of the boutiques that will grow stronger during this downturn. We have great value in our networks and top-notch business experience. We’ve worked across many different industries in completing more than sixty specialized retained searches in the last six years. We have imagination, a client-centric focus and above all, courage. The courage to embrace change lets us turn the retained search model on its ear.

Introducing Pre-Search Support
You recognize a wealth of executive talent on the market. You have idle internal recruiting resources with the capacity to smile-and-dial for talent. Perhaps you can forego the cost of a retained search! You can post the opportunity on your website and on online job sites, and place it in the right media….and wait for the right candidates to call. You can also work through the resumes flowing in every day. With Pre-Search Support from Fitzgerald MSI, your early-stage recruiting efforts are now an investment, not an expense.

Step One. Your search begins with a self-selling Position Description, one that sells the company as much as it sells the opportunity. It isn’t just a list of requirements and responsibilities. The right Position Description is a valuable introduction to your company–its model, its culture, its vision, and how the opportunity fits into the company. It engages the reader. It gets him excited. It gets her juiced to keep talking with you. And it gives all candidates something of tremendous value to pass on to other potential candidates! View sample self-selling Position Descriptions written by Fitzgerald MSI for clients in financial services, healthcare and construction management.

Step Two. The lifeblood of any recruiting effort is solid research. If the right people don’t call you, where will you look? Let Fitzgerald MSI write your Search Strategy–putting greater definition to what kind of person you’re looking for, identifying what company she likely works for, and providing you with names and phone numbers for your internal recruiters to call. This is a great way to get the hiring manager, human resources and the recruiter all on the same page before the first call is made.

Step Three. You gave it your best shot, but it’s time to engage a search partner. The value in Fitzgerald MSI’s Pre-Search Support is that you can flip it to a retained search, with a credit for the investment you made in steps one and two. You get the full resources of an accomplished boutique dedicated to your search, and your opportunity is now networked through the Fitzgerald MSI talent pool. We pick up where you left off, but having worked with you on the Position Description, Search Strategy and Research, we’re coming out of the gate quickly. You’re getting results, and you’re saving money.

Position Description Audits
Not hiring in the near-term? What a wonderful opportunity to retool your recruiting resources to self-recruit more successfully when things change. It starts with an audit of your Position Descriptions. Consider the benefits:

Differentiate your opportunities from others. In the hands of the right candidate, does your Position Description read like a disclosure, or does it get your potential candidate excited about the opportunity…and your company? If the person you’re calling isn’t interested in a move, it’s likely she knows a few people who may want to know more about your opportunity. Do you want her to pass on a disclosure…or a Position Description that sells? See what a self-selling Position Description by Fitzgerald MSI looks like.

Standardization and Clarification. Clarify titles, functions and requirements. Standardize action verbs, e.g., manage, assist, direct, prepare or evaluate, across different levels and divisions in the company. Build the bridge between what the hiring manager requires in talent, what human resources wants in character and culture, and how the recruiter hopes to present the value proposition.

Equip internal executive search talent. Give your internal recruiters the tools they need to help you lower your recruiting costs, starting with Position Descriptions that satisfy the requirements of your internal clients to sell the opportunity and the company! Use Fitzgerald MSI to ask the right questions, offer the right answers, and write a compelling story for your recruiters to bring to the marketplace.

Be ready to see the light
This, too, shall pass. Be ready to come out of the gate quickly when the time is right.

Let’s face it. It’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and some days, it’s even tough to see the tunnel. But things will get better. When? We don’t know. But between now and whenever that is, there’s a tremendous opportunity to reinvent the way you recruit the best people. Let Fitzgerald MSI help you build a more robust internal recruiting function and lower your recruiting costs. And rest assured, we’ll still be around when the dust settles in the executive search space and only the courageous are left standing. How do we know that? Because we have the courage to change– to give our clients what they want, not just what they need.

Click here to contact Mike Fitzgerald directly.

Note: If you are reading this newsletter offline, visit www.mfitzgerald.com/pddocs.html the next time you’re online to view the sample Position Descriptions mentioned in this article.

Mike Fitzgerald 17 Posts

Fitzgerald MSI provides clients with a talent management framework that helps them make better hiring, advancement and talent development decisions. We identify how people process information and make decisions, predict how they are motivated, and suggest how well they fit into the client’s culture. We help clients select the right people, and accelerate the onboarding and assimilation process to make them more productive, more quickly. And we help clients improve relationships among and between teams, manage training and development gaps, and identify next-generation managers and executive leadership. Mike Fitzgerald, the president of Fitzgerald MSI, created the company in 2002 to help clients achieve peak performance to improve the client experience, improve efficiency and productivity and enhance revenue. Clients include E *TRADE, TransAmerica, Direct General Insurance, HarlandClarke, Cendant Corporation, State Bank Financial Corporation, ING DIRECT (now Capital One), CHD Meridian Healthcare, Radio-One, Wilmington Trust Company, and more. Fitzgerald is a former chief talent officer, president and CEO, chief operating, officer, and sales, leader. He is a certified practitioner in the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) and Hogan assessments. He’s been a consultant to Fortune-100 companies, startups, turnarounds, and served as an executive officer for companies as large as $4 billion. He’s an Economics graduate from the University of Massachusetts, a frequent speaker at industry events, and the author of three books on service quality, client experience management, and business communications.