Are you cheating on your (search) partner? Exclusivity, the key to a happy marriage.

2 November 2017 | Oliver Gilkes, Senior Consultant

How committed and faithful are you?

If you work with a search firm to hire someone, you have a number of choices: you can work with a search firm exclusively, you can pay a retainer or you can play the field and work with a number of search firms at the same time.  

Some investment firms believe that working with multiple search firms at the same time, for the same role, will create competition to “keep them honest” and ensure the market is covered.  These beliefs are somewhat erroneous.

                                      O.G Nov Insight Photo

The reality is that if, for example, you are working with four search firms at the same time, you’re effectively giving each firm 25% of your commitment. This can cause the search to become more about speed than it is about quality.  Also, why would that search firm then provide you with more than 25% of their commitment? Possibly fear or desperation, or both. 

If you provide the search firm you work with a window of opportunity to work exclusively with you for a period of time, they are more able to:-

  • Meet a larger number of candidates and screen them in more detail
  • Find recommendations via their network
  • Actively promote your business to candidates
  • Show you their star candidates before they show them to their more committed clients

The point about actively promoting your business over others is particularly important, given your competitors may be vying to catch the eye of the star candidate you are interested in.

If you give a search firm 100% of your commitment for a period of time, they will give you 100% of their commitment in return. Somewhat like a happy marriage.

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About the author

Oliver joined us in 2008 and covers the UK, Europe and the Middle East. His focus includes private equity, private credit, real estate and infrastructure for sovereign wealth funds, family offices and GPs.

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