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For many businesses, executive search consultants are a necessary evil, or sometimes a last resort. Often, companies try (and fail) to source top talent on their own, either via a typical agency or an in-house team. It’s taken them a long time to bite the bullet and admit they need more specialist help.

After reading our last post on why an executive headhunter is useful, you might still be wondering where we add value over a regular, in-house recruiters. In response, here are a few points that explain how using just an in-house team can sometimes fall short:

An in-house network is limited

Your recruitment team will likely be indoctrinated on your business values, processes and culture. Yet they will certainly be on the backfoot when it comes to bringing a professional network with them, ready to be explored for the exact right fit.

Independent recruitment firms, on the other hand, live or die on the quality of their contacts. They’ve already done the legwork – in our case, 20 years in hospitality, retail and leisure – that has prepared them for senior appointments. An in-house ‘expert’ may have an abundance of research skills, but they will be locked out of some networks, primarily those that lead to board of directors positions and the like.

What’s more, specialist recruiters can act as a valuable extension of your team long-term. We’ve worked with one client, for example, since 2009 on senior management positions. In that time, they’ve hired thirty-six people through us, all bar four of whom have remained with the company for over three years. Of these, ten have been promoted, and a further three promoted by more than one level. One now leads the business as Managing Director.

By drawing the right people from an exclusive network, you’ve got a much better chance of achieving an outcome with a lasting impact through your executive search.

Do the best recruiters go for in-house roles?

Leading on from this, we can deduce that an in-house recruiter hasn’t walked the same distance in our industry – otherwise, they it’s unlikely they’d be working directly for your organisation in a subordinate capacity. Although it is quite clear that there are some exceptional Talent Leaders working ‘in-house’ there are also myriad recruiters who failed to cut it in ‘agency-side’ recruitment. What recruiters do is demanding; long hours, highs and lows, always on call, stretching targets, becoming an expert in one field and the pressure can be relentless. At many large recruitment firms staff turnover is over 100%. In these environments you tend to find the best recruiters stay and thrive, often building their own successful businesses. They certainly have an edge. 

It’s not true that all ‘in-house’ recruiters are poor recruiters – far from it, many are very good, and some truly understand how to develop world class talent function as part of a wider business. It is true, however, that there are countless ‘average’ recruiters (both in-house and in ‘agency’) who transact, very much as they were ‘taught’ many years ago. We believe in doing one thing and doing it really well. No compromise.

It’s harder for them to investigate the wider industry

We all know quotas are important. However, in-house recruiters may just strive to welcome ‘x’ amount of candidates through your doors each week instead of really honing in on a smaller, more talented group. Senior management jobs take time and patience to find, which necessitates a greater understanding of what your industry is going through.

It’s worth mentioning, again, that specialist recruiters have spent time in the trenches. Every conversation they’ve had over months, years or decades has shed light on what businesses like yours should be searching for. If someone is in-house, they are constrained by only seeing the mechanisms of their organisation first-hand.

Our approach factors in what we’ve learned from dozens of players in the same market; we’re aware of what it takes to be competitive. We track candidates over months and years – we know those who have been successful and, perhaps more importantly, we know what makes them successful and why they could be right for you.

Do you want to stay ahead of trends, instead of trailing them? Keen to see what an executive search researcher can accomplish? SPE only deal with a select business clientele, who we work with on a long-term, one-to-one basis. To include yourself in those ranks, send us a message, or call us with your enquiry.