Hey all - I am trying to understand the 3rd party side of our industry and how companies use them. I know it was a tough year last year for the space - however (fingers crossed), it seems to be continuing to recover. Any feedback would be welcome!


I am curious if you use contingency/retained firms and as a follow up:


1. What is the primary value they are delivering today? (e..g sourcing candidates, moving A players through the process,etc)

2. How many different firms do you use?

3. How do you pick firms? (e.g. when they bring a winning candidate, through a careful vetting process)


Thanks for any feedback.

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Ethan - great question. You will get many opinions (some dramatic).

Mine: Recruiters use HH's as just one part of an overall recruiting strategy and often for those roles that are too critical or too difficult to source thru linkedin or job boards. HH's - although more expensive when compared to "free sources" - are actually more cost effective when you think of the quality of the candidates you can get and the speed/certainty with which you get them thru a 3rd party search firm.

A search firm will want an exclusive with you and many will chime in on this string and explain the benefits of that. I however have seen employers move away from having only 1-2 firms engaged and instead engage a handful on each search - I think a good number can be no more than 6-8. More than that and you risk not being fair or responsive to the firms and they will drop you, but having a handful creates choice of candidates for you, increases candidate quality and speed of hire. Again, some firms will scream about this, but as long as you are a good partner with them and give timely feedback and consideration to thier candidates, search firms will understand that a little competition is reality in this day and age.

In term of choosing, specialization and performance metrics are key. Because of the rise of the internet, you can now find both types of information on search firms on sites like BountyJobs (which I run) and other places. Find a handful of firms that focus on your sector, job function and region and also look for key stats that can't be fibbed (interview rates, fill history).

Hope that helps. Search firms are very valuable

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