Recruitment Option 2: Retained Search Firms, or "Headhunters"

The retained search business, in comparison, is a much more exclusive game. Retained recruiters typically target candidates making more than $100,000 for their clients. For example, if a semiconductor manufacturer is looking for a general manager with an MBA and ten or more years of power electronics experience in the international arena to become part of a $200 million company with 1,200 employees, then a retained recruiter would bid for the business and begin the search.

Of course, there might only be fifty or a hundred qualified people in the whole country who meet your exacting criteria. That means that the headhunter would have to spend a great deal of time researching your competition, developing names and profiles of candidates, approaching those candidates with your opportunity, and then qualifying them in terms of their willingness and ability to do the job, fit your company's corporate culture, and potentially relocate.

The whole process is obviously not cost-efficient if done strictly on contingency. So, these recruiters work on retainer and typically get paid in three installments: one-third of the fee initially to begin the search, one-third after thirty days, and one-third after sixty days—regardless of whether the search is completed. You are, in essence, paying for their time and expertise in researching, sourcing, and proactively qualifying candidates who are not currently on the job market. The headhunter acts as an aggressive third party to scout the best people at competing companies and to persuade them to consider a career-advancing move with your firm.

Unlike contingency recruiters who must place a candidate to earn a fee, the retained recruiter gets a fee that is guaranteed up front. Because of that financial arrangement, there is little financial bias to preclude a pure consulting relationship. Consequently, headhunters act like management consultants who attempt to shift the competitive balance of management power in their client company's favor.

The bottom line: Employ a retained search firm for six-figure positions with exacting criteria when your sense of urgency is great and your need for dedicated attention is critical. If you find it difficult to pay a retainer when contingency recruiters will apparently do the same work for free, remember that it wouldn't make sense for contingency recruiters to work a search assignment that's too difficult when they have other, more "fillable" openings to tend to. Retained recruiters, in comparison, will be beholden to you until the assignment is completed because they will already have been paid their fee.

To contact qualified retained search firms in your field, order:

The Directory of Executive Recruiters (2007-2008 edition, $59.95)

Kennedy Information, Inc.

1 Phoenix Mill Road, 3rd Floor

Peterborough, NH 03458

(800) 531-0007 or (603) 924-4460

This well-known ''Red Book'' is a large paperback with contact information for 3,200 firms in 4,400 locations in North America. It divides both retained and contingency search firms by management function, industry specialty, and geography. It contains the most complete listing of search firms available, and it' s an excellent source for identifying search firms' capabilities.

In addition, if you' re looking for an overseas search firm for your international recruitment needs, purchase:

The International Directory of Executive Recruitment (17th edition 2007, £249) Executive Grapevine International LTD New Barnes Mill Cottonmill Lane St. Albans

Hertfordshire AL1 2HA

011 44 172 784 4335 This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

The International Directory of Executive Recruitment is the most comprehensive listing of executive recruiters from around the globe. Spanning sixty-seven countries worldwide and profiling more than a thousand executive search firms, the directory is divided into three distinct sections: (1) EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa), (2) the Americas, and (3) the Rest of the World. Highlighting the world' s major recruiting networks, affiliations, and independent firms, it includes consultants' biographies as well as areas of recruitment specialty.

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