Filling the Gap - What a Specialty Search Firm Can Do for You

by Laura Gemme

What do you do when your organization learns that a key executive is leaving? After reeling a bit from the blow of impending change, you need to decide next steps. Do you handle the search internally? Or do you retain a search firm? Here are some points to consider, and why a specialty search firm may be your best bet.

It will save you time. A thorough search can typically take about 200 hours. This includes defining the position, placing ads, screening, interviewing, reference checking, and handling issues related to the new hire "settling in." To make an outstanding hire, you need to recruit quality candidates who are happy in their current positions. That takes research, often hundreds of phone calls and timely communication with potential candidates. Even just reviewing the stacks of resumes coming in can be a daunting task. It's helpful to multiply the number of hours you spend on the search by your hourly wage to gauge the value of the time spent.

You have expert advice "on tap." A great search firm will walk you through every step of the process, and will offer expert advice along the way. It takes the worry out of whether or not you are handling delicate situations in a productive way. For example, nonprofit searches are all that we do, so we have a solid handle on typical work models, organizational structures, legal concerns, strategic goals, and helping orchestrate a smooth transition for everyone involved.

You tap into a larger network of quality candidates. Working with a field-specific search firm, you have access to a much larger network than your own. Most search firms have a large database to help get the word out, not only of potential candidates, but also professional colleagues and consultants who can offer suggestions of quality prospects. That, alone, is a huge advantage over conducting the search internally.

It's cost effective. If it seems like it's beyond your budget to retain a search firm to handle the search, it's likely not. Consider the following...

  • If the position you need to fill generates revenue (such as an executive director or fundraiser), you will likely lose funds during the transition. The sooner you have someone in place to begin generating funds, the better off you'll be.
  • If the position is vacant for any amount of time (which is likely), the salary you had budgeted for that person can go toward the search fees.
  • If other staff are spending time on search tasks (reviewing resumes, making phone calls, scheduling interviews, responding to candidates who apply, etc.), time is money. That time is being pulled away from other revenue-generating and mission-focused activities. A good search firm can handle all of those tasks so that your employees stay focused on your mission. This also helps them to feel less of a disruption, when the organization continues to do "business as usual," rather than being side-tracked by tasks related to an executive search.

So if you find yourself in need of an executive search, give us a call and let us show you how we can help identify top-notch candidates, as well as provide expert advice along the way. It's what we do...and it's all we do. We deliver "Talented Leaders for a Better World."

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