The Recruiting Version of A Tale of Two Cities

The Smith Consulting Group is an executive search firm, “search” is a concept often misunderstood as everyone seems to have a different idea of recruiters based on their own personal experience.

When I speak with clients, or potential clients, I want to know their perception of recruiting first and foremost. Many times, it is only contingency recruiting which often degrades into what they do not like about “these recruiters”. I inquire if they are open to hearing of methods they may not know of, a shared risk approach which allows for a higher quality recruiting effort. What most firms don’t like about recruiters is the lack of effort and communication, but this is inherently built into the contingent search model as the recruiter puts in enough effort to see if they can find someone quickly. When the search is complex and challenging, they can’t afford to put in months of effort with no guarantee of a return on their investment. Most recruiters cannot afford to take the time necessary to take the search to the deeper levels required to find talent in this talent-starved market.

I offer the following successful example of an alternative search method I performed for a long-standing client whom we had only previously worked fully contingent searches prior to this example. This firm had a great time urgency to fill a mid-level position for a key team member due to an upcoming contract. I described a more intense effort working under the shared risk model which they agreed to try. We identified approximately 70 target professionals and, in this list, found an interested individual who was a great fit and who was sitting 2 miles from their office working remotely. He was flying across the nation to handle client work which was impacting his quality of life. Both parties agreed it was an ideal match and the candidate joined the firm.


Fast forward more than four years: The candidate knocked it out of the park and has been instrumental in the project he was hired to lead. His level of success ultimately led to his promotion as the Group Leader. Thinking outside of the box was the fix for a potential headache for the company. Had my team and I not been able to identify this candidate, our client was in danger of losing this contract with a prized client and this candidate was not going to answer a job posting because he was not actively looking. The benefit of this level of search gave our client access to a hidden talent pool.

Let me reiterate and emphasize, this method is not appropriate in every circumstance nor is it a guarantee of filling a position, but rather it is a guarantee of an exhaustive effort that is not always feasible in contingency search. This example offers a different way of approaching one of today’s most vexing business problems – finding professional staff to grow your firm and to take advantage of a robust economy.