The Secrets to Working With an Executive Recruiter

Ready to find your next great employee? An executive recruiter can help. But, first, be sure you know these five secrets to successfully working with one.

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By Gwen Moran

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As your business grows, it can be tough to keep up with the constant challenge of attracting, recruiting, and hiring new employees – especially those employees who are going to be game-changers for your company. Even growing companies have likely not invested heavily in their human resources departments, since many times resources go to sales, product development and marketing first. That's why an executive recruiter can be a strong ally.

Skilled, well-connected executive recruiters can help you pinpoint and attract key talent. But, there are some essential elements to working successfully with a good recruiter, says Charley Polachi, founder of Boston-based Polachi Access Executive Search, an executive recruiting firm that in the technology sector.

Before you hire someone to find your next hire, be sure you have these foundational pieces in place:

Person specifications. Job descriptions are important, but what you really need is a person specification, Polachi says. Think about the specific skills, attributes and experience you need to take your company where it needs to go. This goes beyond the responsibilities of the job and gets to more specifics about the person you want to hire. Do you plan to quickly grow your company? Then, you might be looking for someone who's managed the challenges of scaling quickly and attracting new investment.

Related: 7 Things You Should Never Say to Your Employees

First-year charter. If your new hire started tomorrow, what would you expect him to accomplish within the first year of working for your company? Discuss those goals with your recruiter so he gets a good idea of what sort of expectations you have, as well as further insight into the skills the person will need, Polachi says.

Failure inventory. Look at the last five people who haven't worked out at your company. Why was that so? Taking a look at why people don't succeed at your firm will give you an idea of the personality types, work styles, and skill sets that don't work or aren't a good fit. This helps your recruiter better understand which candidates are going to work well for your firm.

Related: How to Snap Back After You Blow Up at Your Staff

Compensation package. Polachi says that firms need to be realistic about their compensation packages in order for him to find the right fit. But compensation isn't just base pay or stock options. Think about all the value your company provides to your employees, including bonuses, commissions, benefits, perks, flexible work environments, and culture. While it's unlikely you're going to extract a top employee from a great position at a strong company with a low salary, a recruiter has insight into candidates' priorities and will be able to use all of that information when finding the right candidates for your firm.

Other challenges. Polachi says one of the biggest obstacles to him doing a great job for his clients is when they're not truthful. Do you have a second-in-command who can be volatile and difficult? Is your company facing a downward turn in business and you're looking for a true rainmaker to help turn things around? Being straightforward with the recruiter enables him or her to help you find solutions and people who will be able to deal with those challenges and possibly even overcome them.

"Entrepreneurs need to get up every day and believe in their companies, no matter what the challenges. Sometimes, though, they need to really step back and be honest with themselves – and with their recruiters – so we can find the right people," he says.

Related: Employees Driving You Nuts? It May Be You, Not Them.

Gwen Moran

Writer and Author, Specializing in Business and Finance

GWEN MORAN is a freelance writer and co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Plans (Alpha, 2010).

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