Building a Relationship with a Search Firm – The Client Viewpoint
Last month I wrote on the topic of how candidates who seek security management positions can work to build relationships with recruitment professionals. This month highlights the client’s view.
It is not uncommon for candidates placed in organizations to hire that same recruitment firm to consult and/or recruit for security teams they want to build in their new roles. It is at that point where candidates experience the flip side of recruitment and see it from the client’s viewpoint.
Where the relationship between candidate and recruiter is one-on-one, it is often a many-one relationship in the case of a client organization and recruiter. A small company may have their top security practitioner act as the liaison between their organization and the recruiter; however, most large companies often have multiple functions involved at varying degrees in a search. It often falls to the recruitment firm to pull everyone together to obtain a good result for all client departments and deliver a great candidate.
As a hiring manager, what can you do to ensure the search you are about to conduct will result in a good experience for all? Here are some suggestions:
- Identify the functions within your own organization that will be involved in this project. Components with impact include procurement, human resources/talent acquisition and any oversight function such as board, senior management and any cross-functional players or stakeholders. Each of these activities have the ability to significantly alter your game plan and timeline for your hiring project. It will be a huge plus for you to understand all these components ahead of time.
- Accurately identify what you are looking for. Be specific and understand what requirements and key competencies candidates will need to possess to support your security mission statement.
- Vet the recruitment firm you want to hire and make sure the area they actively work in matches the position you are trying to fill. If you are looking for assistance to define what you want, make sure the recruiter you work with has the industry knowledge to help you structure and align your security organization with the business. Ask the recruiter for insight.
- The recruitment firm you engage should have deep reach into and strong relationships with the security community. It is a problem if you are not seeing candidates who are on target.
Generalist firms sometimes stop searching after they have located a very small pool of candidates they think they can sell to their client. I have also heard stories from clients whereby they have received the same 10 candidates at the same time from multiple specialist search firms working under contingent contracts.
Both these scenarios describe a minimal amount of work to identify and present the best candidates. There are many, many more than 10 exceptionally well-qualified security professionals. A good security search firm knows them. Make sure you see them.
Be a proactive participant in the search and provide timely and accurate feedback to both the recruiter and your organization. A client that has gone silent is never a good thing for any of the parties involved and risks losing a candidate you might have hoped to hire. Keep your recruiter in the loop.
Finally, I would suggest you keep in mind your job search experience as a candidate. The people you interview are in the same position you were in at some point in your career. Utilize your recruitment firm to consistently stay in touch with them. The search firm you hire is likely working hard to offer the best hiring experience for both you as the client as well as the candidates you might consider.