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How to Select an Executive Search Firm

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Why limit your company to the people answering ads or actively promoting their resumes? Even if you attract 100 or more candidates in your own search, their caliber is limited to those actively seeking new positions. A skilled executive search firm who understands your company's culture can approach the best people in the entire market, including those who are not currently seeking new employment. Especially when it's a key position in your finance and accounting department, can you afford not to look for the best?

Here are some questions to ask a search firm before you engage their services:
  • How long has the company been in business, and what is their archival knowledge of the market in their field?

  • What is the length of tenure of the most experienced person in the office?

  • How large is their network?

  • What is their reputation with candidates and with clients? Can they get phone calls returned quickly? Are they endorsed by satisfied clients who are similar to your company in industry and/or size?

  • Do they have a policy of visiting you and understanding your company, its culture, and its needs before they contact top talent so they can be adept at presenting your company in its most positive but realistic light?

  • Are they easy to contact? Is your "chemistry" with them strong and based on mutual respect and trust? Will they coordinate their efforts with your human resources department?

  • Does the firm have adequate support/administrative staff to free up the recruiters' time to devote to your assignment? Does the firm use research assistants to aid in staying in touch with their network of contacts? How do they track the careers of the top talent in their field?

  • Are candidate references thorough and in writing?

  • What is the firm's guarantee?

  • How many searches is your recruiter conducting simultaneously? Will the search be done in an agreed-upon time frame, and will the proper time be allocated to your assignment?

  • What networking organizations do they attend and participate in to stay in touch with top talent?

  • Do they meet with you personally after each placement to ensure your satisfaction?

  • Do they care about your company and about your repeat business?

About the Author:

Judy Thompson, president of Judy Thompson & Associates, has been interviewing and recruiting financial professionals for more than 25 years. Her career began in the 1970s in the top-producing office of a 325-office national search firm. In 1981, she founded Judy Thompson & Associates Financial Search in San Diego. Today, it is one of three affiliated Thompson Search companies: Judy Thompson & Associates, specialists in recruiting mid-level accounting and financial professionals; ThompsonRose Interim Professionals, co-founded with Linda Rose of Rose Business Solutions in 1998 to fill the growing market for interim and part-time financial and accounting professionals; and BrownThompson Executive Search, formed in 2005 with former Sony Electronics deputy president Tom Brown to provide retained executive searches with particular expertise in recruiting CFO talent. Judy holds a B.A. in Psychology from San Diego State University.

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 executive search  careers  tenure  industry  reputation

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