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Search companies need to be flexible

Search companies need to be flexible to meet HR agenda

The service models currently provided by executive recruiters need fundamental changes if the search industry is to survive not only the current economic downturn but the decades to follow. However many good reasons still exist to use search firms.

This was the message from members of the Association of Executive Recruiters (AER), part of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) during a seminar, The Future of Executive Search and Selection.

Garry Thompson, former HR director of on-line travel agent Opodo and founder of Aequus Consulting, told AER members: It is an extremely expensive decision to go to search and so it has to be right and justified. Hefty retained recruitment fees are very hard to swallow especially in the current climate.

HR directors will be looking for more cost effective methods and for flexibility in the way fees are charged as most of them would have had their budgets slashed.

These directors now have a greater choice than ever in the ways they can recruit through using executive on-line job sites or business networking sites, research companies, or alternatively, directly employing experienced senior recruiters or researchers.

But there are still good reasons to use a search consultancy, for example, when the role was very senior, the brand was not known or misunderstood, if there were few candidates, if it was a confidential or covert search or if it was urgent and there was not the time and resource for an HR director to do it themselves.

In choosing a search recruiter, rapport with the consultant was paramount coupled with an understanding of the business or previous search experience in the relevant sector.

The seminar included a panel discussion led by Derek Smart, Chair of the AER, which focused on search methodology. It includes contributions from Helen Barrett, Chief Executive and Editor of Executive Grapevine, who explained: Search needs to be about you and your ability to get candidates to move from one company to another. This was as a result of employers now being able to find candidates themselves.

Delegates were also reminded that the economic downturn may be changing their sector, but that they should not expect a return to the usual way of doing business once the economy returns to growth.

Derek Smart said in conclusion: There is a fundamental shift in our methods of doing business affecting all players in the Search industry with only those who are flexible enough to change surviving.

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