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What Is Search?

the team
Damian Chiam

BURŌ TALENT is a Global Executive Search agency led by Damian Chiam and Janou Pakter.  We are often asked to explain the difference between an Executive Search Agency vs. a Recruitment Company or a Staffing Agency?  Let’s start with what exactly is Search.

What exactly is Executive Search?

Search is when a company, agency or consultancy reaches out to a search firm to identify and place a talent that is often hard to find. The Search firm charges the client a fee for its services, using the proprietary network it has cultivated and appropriate outreach methods to find the best talent for the open role.

This process can take from 2 to 9 months, with the length of a search depending on many variables:  

  • The role (job description)
  • The title
  • Desirability of the client
  • Values and mission of the brand
  • Current executive management
  • Appetite for change
  • Genuine commitment and support for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
  • Location
  • Compensation package
  • And more.

What is Creative Search?

Creative Search is where the agency has a special expertise in placing creative talent that requires special skills, knowledge, and expertise to be able to judge creative talent. In many cases, the company’s HR department doesn’t have the capacity, special training, education, or exposure for hiring creative talent.

What is Creative Talent?

Creative talent is not just needed in creative or design departments. Marketers are also creative talent, as they are often balancing the art and science of their role, communicating and creating desire while balancing the commercial and analytics of their role.

Not only can creative talent be needed in various roles, but these unique individuals often have a different way of thinking and seeing. The ability to envision concepts, innovate new products and services, explain them clearly and concisely to their teams, and market them with clear, creative communication are core traits of creative talent. Through their unique perspective, they also know how to predict future behaviors (of their team and customers). Creative talent sees, feels and understands how people live, what is important to them, and their preferences for communication. Ultimately, the creative process is an ever-evolving process that requires ingenuity, innovation and insight — into people, products and services.  

Why recruiters and headhunters often get a mixed (or bad) reputation

From both the company and candidate perspectives, each has their own experience working with a search firm. And in many cases, we find it to be inconsistent, or even negative. There are several reasons for that.

The Company and HR experience

Companies believe that search firms are not always transparent when it comes to salary negotiations. They believe headhunters are trying to get a high fee by misleading their client about a particular candidate’s compensation expectations, pumping up the numbers.

HR departments and company executives can feel the search process takes too long when going through an outsourced recruiter — especially when communication is lacking, or they don’t see the right kind of qualified candidates being found. All the while, they are required to pay a fee, no matter what. Ultimately, companies believe they are paying a big recruiting fee without getting the level of service, transparency or results they were expecting.

Generally, HR is the trusted conduit who manages the search internally and externally, and is often the problem solver between the external search agency and the hiring manager. This keeps the search process moving faster without complications. However, some company’s HR teams view Search Firms as their competitors, instead of their partners. HR managers can feel by-passed when headhunters communicate directly with the HR executives, C-suite or hiring managers. In rare cases, HR may grant permission for a search firm to directly contact the hiring manager, but that is generally not the case. And if they allow it, they may not be comfortable with it. For search agencies to bypass this existing hiring structure is not only insulting and inappropriate, but also wasting time and not acceptable.

The candidate experience

For candidates, rather than feeling respected, heard, or understood by recruiters, they often feel they are just a tool for the use of the recruiter — when they need them, they are all over them. But if the client has expressed no interest in meeting the candidate, the recruiter will drop them without providing any feedback, follow up, or closure. Recruiters ghost their candidates all too often — disappearing only to come back later if they have another role they think they can use them for.

Candidates can also feel pressure or be convinced to meet a client who is of no interest to or not the best fit for them — especially when they feel the recruiter has not listened to what they are looking for, and doesn’t understand what is important to them. Some candidates have described this feeling akin to a “used car salesperson” sales pitch. In this way, candidates feel “thrown in the lion’s den” without receiving proper preparation from the recruiter prior to client interviews.

Why hire a Search Firm?

Reasons companies hire a search firm

At BuroTalent, we find a few common reasons companies reach out to a Search Firm when looking for and recruiting top talent. 

  • While HR departments are great at finding, screening and hiring for many positions throughout their companies, they often need the assistance, guidance and special expertise of a Search Firm for executive roles and key positions. 
  • Many HR departments are overloaded and short on time. Hiring a Search Firm to find top talent to fill key roles essential to their company’s growth, success and innovation, can help lighten their load.
  • Even companies who usually prefer to use their own talent acquisition team, understand that finding unique talent often requires a greater reach beyond their existing network and inhouse recruiters. 
  • When time is of the essence, inhouse recruiters need outside support to meet an urgent hiring deadline.
  • The company may also have business or confidentiality reasons that make hiring a trusted, unbiased Search Agency the right decision.   

Advantages of a search agency for candidates

For candidates, working with a search agency to find a position that best suits them can help them to expand the career possibilities they might not uncover on their own. Professionally, it is much better for them to be represented by an agency who makes the introduction, sets up the interviews, gives guidance and counseling, and negotiates their total compensation package. The search agency can handle the entire interviewing and closing process professionally.

Insightful, personal approach to Executive Search

Curious to learn more about how BURŌ TALENT can help you? Contact us to tell us what (or who) you’re looking for. And in the meantime, check out the list of companies we’ve helped and hear what they have to say, or learn more about our insightful approach to executive search.

BURŌ TALENT looks forward to hearing from you!

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