Our Firm has been offering my executive search clients a three-year placement guarantee for more than 20 years. We do it on every search, not just when it is forced by market competition, which some national and regional firms do.
How can JohnGSelf + Partners afford to do that? Because we employ one of the most comprehensive project research and candidate screening processes in the industry. For our Firm, the three-year guarantee is about adding value and supporting our clients.
Here is the back story to this narrative.
When your recruiter, or any other consultant for that matter, says they want to “partner” with you, what is she or he really saying?
- It is just a popular, commonly used marketing fluff, or
- It is based on a sincere desire to add value with a willingness to be held accountable for the success of their work?
Here is where the rubber meets the road. Option 2 is just more of the same promotional sales fluff unless it is backed up with a commitment in which the Firm has “skin in the game”; there can be no partnership without shared financial risk. Since most executives survive at least one year, a 12-month placement guarantee lacks authenticity when it comes to adding value and sharing risks.
A three-year guarantee is a real guarantee. There is real risk when you commit to three years. In order to do this on a regular basis, as is the case with our Firm, you have to be better than good or it will become a very costly, time-consuming proposition replacing candidates who did not “fit.” This is not a critical commitment you want made with inexperienced junior associates who have never visited the client’s location. At our Firm the partners review the candidates at every phase of the vetting process and they, not the junior associate, who decides who should be screened before submission to the client.
What does this type of commitment mean for the client? It should mean that when a firm makes this sort of impactful commitment on a regular basis, they are saying that they care deeply about identifying and recruiting the best candidates, someone who will not only last through the guarantee, but produce measurable value for the organization.
[Tweet “The executive search process must be more than a fee transaction. “]
What does this mean for the candidate? From our perspective, it means that the JohnGSelf + Partners team cares about the candidates we recruit. The search process must be more than a fee transaction. It must be about the success of someone’s career as well as the happiness and welfare of their family. That is serious stuff.
Based on research interviews with hundreds of candidates who have been recruited by different recruiters multiple times in their career, you would be surprised how infrequently the well being of the candidate’s family comes into play, with the
possible exception of that aforementioned junior associate asking whether the spouse is open to relocation. When recruiters are more focused on fulfilling a “search order” and collecting the fee than on being accountable for the outcome of their work, more often than not the entire episode will not end well.
So when an executive recruiter offers you a placement guarantee, think about what they are really saying about value and accountability.