Large SHREK executive search firms may seem a "safe bet" but there are benefits to considering what only a boutique search firm can offer. Are you missing an opportunity?
Top 5 Limitations You May Face By Hiring a Big SHREK Firm Instead of a Boutique Executive Search Firm
- You can’t recruit from your dream wish list.
The larger the firm, the greater the number of clients they won’t be able to recruit from. Often there is contractual language in their agreements that prevents them from recruiting candidates from companies into which they’ve recently put executive talent and/or done searches. This could make your dream wish list practically off-limits.
- You may be sold by aggregate results rather than relevant performance
Often, we see client companies that are keen to select a search partner with experience in specific industries, functions, or geography. Larger firms have the ability to aggregate their work and pull together an impressive “recently executed searches” list. But, in all likelihood, the vast majority of those searches were executed by different partners and different teams. You can attempt to vet these lists by verifying that the searches presented were executed or led by the team you plan to hire.
- You may be paying for recycled and retrofitted research. How much of the candidate target list is “recycled” from prior searches? Often, larger firms utilize research and work done on prior searches to “recycle” for new clients in similar searches, without investing the time, effort & energy to research bespoke candidates for the nuances of a subsequent engagement. You can attempt to avoid this by asking your prospective firm “What percentage of an executive candidate target list on a recent search was made up of new candidates in your database vs. those you’d reached out to/touched on prior searches?”
- You’ll hire perceived experience, but will you get the expertise?
What level of seniority is tackling executive outreach, recruiting, and screening & assessment? The larger firms often have a “finder, minder, grinder” approach to search execution. Partners “find” or “land” the engagement, then junior level team members actually mind or manage the project, and “grind”, aka, the actual picking up of the phone, screening of the executive pipeline, and assessing potential fit for the role. You can navigate this issue by making sure to have team members identified upfront. Ensure you know who they are and how to communicate with them, as well as what role the firm partner will be playing in the execution.
- You may find serious constraints with “you get what you pay for” challenges. The economics of the engagement with the larger firms is often driven by payment terms. The vast majority utilize a 3-part schedule at 0, 30, and 60 days—which directly correlates to the timeline they’re focused on. Once they’ve delivered their best effort in that time frame, they are pressured to move on to other client engagements. The law of diminishing returns to invest further energy in identifying additional candidates past the first 60 days of the search puts your search at risk within these economics. Navigate this challenge by asking “how many candidates interviewed by the company were introduced AFTER the first 60 days from when the search kicked off?”
- BONUS CONSIDERATION: Size parity—depends upon how big you are as a company. As a general rule, it is always best to try to choose an advisor that is similar sized or smaller to ensure the highest quality of service. If you’re a rounding error in their book, you’ll likely be treated as a number rather than a VIP client. At BSG we believe boutiques are “big enough to matter, yet small enough to care”—which may make all the difference in your particular search as well.
-by BSG on Jul 6, 2021 7:17:21 AM