Why is using Executive Search so expensive?

Filed in Uncategorized by on June 29, 2018

One Mayor asked this question:

I’ve been working with the HR people in my municipality for some time, relying on them to find good staff. Now that we are recruiting a new CAO this has become a major problem for us. The demand for TOP TALENT is at an all time high, and finding and retaining the ‘right’ person is a top concern for me and my council. We are even willing to pay someone top wages to come and work here … in fact, more than a lot of our neighbouring municipalities …but we just can’t seem to find the ‘right’ person.

We’re frustrated but recognize the status quo isn’t serving our needs. I want to try something different and we’ve even looked into hiring an executive search firm, but this seems like a very expensive option. In today’s political environment we are having a lot of trouble justifying the additional recruitment expenses. Why are recruiters so expensive? Do you have any advice? Is there something else that I can do?

Ravenhill Answers:

There is a recruitment-industry term called “post and pray” this refers to an age-old practice where organizations like yours post a job, and then pray that the right person applies for the position. Despite advancements in technology and social media, many municipalities’ still rely on this method.

Here’s the problem… most of the time your job ad only reaches a very small percentage of your potential talent pool- we call these “active” candidates. These are the ones who are either unemployed or ‘unhappy’ with their jobs…. You have got to be particularly careful here, since the ‘unhappy’ people may bring their bad habits and ‘unhappiness’ to your town.

So when your ‘traditional methods  … those recruiting ideas that may have worked in the past just aren’t ‘cutting it’anymore, you are right to explore new ways and means. And hiring a good executive search firm, like Ravenhill Group could be VERY worthwhile, despite the added cost.

This is because a good recruiter … one who knows municipalities and who actively recruits “passive” candidates- they are the ones not looking for a job change, can do something that your job posting could NEVER do: reach out directly to employed people, even those who work for other municipalities. A ‘good’ recruiter will also help you negotiate with the ‘right’ candidate to ensure that you and your constituents are well served.  Recruiters like Ravenhill specialize in municipal search and invest considerable time into building strong candidate networks, so they can create a “prospects list” and actively contact people to “sell” a candidate on your community and your opportunity.

In these direct efforts on your behalf, a Ravenhill can share insights about the job and the municipality way beyond what a job description communicates.

There is great business value in this hiring approach because most of the time the TOP TALENT in municipalities are among this “passive” group. The fees we charge reflect this value … plus we bring unique skills, abilities and exclusive access to the table.

Be careful not to hire the person who made the last municipality miserable

To get council’s approval to cover a recruiter’s costs, it’s important to present solid business calculations. For example, how much does NOT HAVING THE “RIGHT” person currently cost the municipality? If you filled the job with the ‘right’ talent, how much would your municipality’s productivity and output grow? If you can get a handle on these figures, justifying the cost of a recruiter can often deliver a compelling return on investment. PLUS … the cost of having the wrong person on the job can be incalculable … in time, money and perhaps even lost elections!

If hiring and executive search firm is not viable, there are some things you can do in-house to improve your chances of finding the right candidates. Consider promoting your posting on www.LOGOJO.ca Canada’s top municipal job board … for a small cost, they will ensure that your message gets to a lot of the ‘right’ people. For example, if a great candidate can find out about your job opening and if your location is better, this will often motivate time-starved candidates to consider a job change … especially if it means they will be closer to home. Less travel time and greater work-life balance are hard to beat.

Is your current job description a little less than inspiring? Does it list only the required skills and qualifications? Revamp it to reflect your unique municipal culture. Most people don’t jump from one job to another for a small money, so you may want to consider what you would pay if you got a ‘really great’ candidate or perhaps you could add an extra week’s vacation. Bottom line, most people will be more apt to consider a change if it means they will enjoy their job more and get to work with like-minded colleagues.

Last but not least, invest time in promoting your ‘municipal brand’ through social media. Let potential job candidates know what differentiates you from other towns and cities. While this is a long-term strategy, it will greatly increase your chances of being noticed by your target talent pool.

It’s never too late, as they say… so, call Ravenhill today!

1-888-447-5910 ext. 700

Bruce Malcolm

About the Author ()

Bruce's background includes 30+ years of human resource management experience covering all aspects of HR administration with a clear specialty in team building and recruiting. He created and developed the concept of “Ethical Head-Hunting™”. Bruce began his recruiting career in 1971 with Prudential Assurance.

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