Here’s How to Assess Your Search Risks and Make More Placements

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Aug 20, 2015
This article is part of a series called How-Tos.

Note: This is the first part of a three part series on search management. This week, Joe Ankus discusses the questions you need answered by clients and candidates before you begin a search or begin working with a candidate. Part two will post on Aug. 27. It will explore search management issues after the first interview. Part three posts Sept. 3 and explores search management issues after the offer.

For those of us who wished they could rewind parts of the search process to have another chance for a “do over,” this article will help to identify some of the key areas of risk common to all searches. The areas of risk we discuss arise without regard to desk specialty and are common issues. By identifying some of these areas before commencing your search, you improve the odds of having a more positive search experience and a higher close ratio overall. The key is to be proactive, not reactive during the entire search process. My specialty is the permanent placement of attorneys but I have trained scores of recruiters in the risk management process across a wide variety of industries.

Pre-Search Risk Assessment: Client

Before accepting any search, you should make sure that the following “risk” items are addressed to your satisfaction:

  1. Does your contact have the actual authority to sign and approve your fee agreement?
  2. Does your contact have the ability to share a detailed and comprehensive position description?
  3. Do you know how long your client has been conducting the search? If the position has been open for a long time, why?
  4. Do you know why your client has a current need? Turnover? Growth? Could you speak to the person who just left? Why or why not?
  5. Do you know how many candidates they have interviewed? Results of those interviews?
  6. Can your client “sell” the job with integrity and sincerity?
  7. Do you know if they made offers that were rejected? If so, how many and why?
  8. Do you know if they are running ads, using their own sources, or sharing the search with other recruiters? If so, do you want to take on the responsibility starting a search so far behind the starting line?

Pre-Submission Risk Assessment: Candidate

Before working with any candidate, you should make sure that the following “risk” items are addressed to your satisfaction:

  1. Do you contact your candidate by cell phone or private email instead of using their office phone or work email? If not, recognize the risks to your candidate’s privacy being violated by their employer.
  2. Do you know, adding up to 100%, what your candidate’s professional background is? If not, you run the risk of under emphasizing or over emphasizing aspects of their skill set. This can prevent them from getting an interview or cause a client to feel the background was not properly represented.
  3. Do you know, with specificity, what your candidate’s top three reasons for making a change are? If the only reason is money, you can almost be 100% certain that you will have a counteroffer issue later on.
  4. Do you know if there are any reasons, personal or professional, why your candidate couldn’t accept a job and transition within 90 days? Do they have trips planned, ongoing projects, etc.?
  5. Do you know if the important people in your candidate’s life support or oppose their potential move? If these important people oppose it now, they will destroy your chances to close a placement later. Don’t underestimate their input on your candidate’s final choice.
  6. Do you know if your client’s insurance and benefits are compatible with your candidate’s needs? The money can meet the candidate’s needs but the benefits can be a deal-killer at the end.
  7. Is your candidate willing to take a drug test and be subject to a full background check (civil and criminal) if your client requires it as part of their hiring procedure?
  8. Is your candidate’s resume 100% accurate in all respects?
  9. Does your candidate have any pending offers on their own? Pending interviews on their own?
  10. Is your candidate’s resume currently with other recruiters? Is your candidate’s resume posted online? Has your candidate ever applied, at any time, to your client? If so, what was the result?
  11. Can your candidate provide competent, qualified and immediate references?
  12. If your candidate gives you permission to submit them to your client, do you have their permission in an email? If not, get it before you send them. It will protect you in the event of a double submission.

All these questions MUST be asked and satisfactorily answered before you commit your time and resources. Since most of our work is done on a contingency basis, you want to eliminate most of the common risk factors as early as possible. As I am fond of saying, ”Surprises are only good for parties, not for recruiting.” After you review the lists above you may well add your own risk items to the list. .

This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. All legal questions should be answered by a licensed attorney of your own choosing.


This article is part of a series called How-Tos.
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