Blue Rock Search

How to Approach Hiring an HR Executive Search Firm

Every organization is unique, so every approach to HR executive search needs to be just as unique. While every HR executive search firm has its own particular style, that shouldn’t translate to a one-size-fits-all approach to every client. Remember: the people (and firms) you hire make a huge difference in where you go and how quickly you get there. It’s imperative to bring people on board who will support the culture you are building, on the timeline you want. When selecting an HR executive search firm, keep these questions in mind.

Will the Firm Invest to Learn Your Goals?

When choosing an HR executive search firm, one of the most important factors to consider is whether that firm truly takes the time to understand your objectives. It’s not just about a checklist of traits – it’s about a deeper understanding of your company’s plan for the future and your vision of its culture.

HR executive searches are, at heart, about asking the right questions – so you need to be confident from the beginning that the firm you hire knows how to do just that. Look for a firm that doesn’t just ask about your company’s objectives, but goes the extra mile to find out why those objectives exist in the first place.

Will the Search Firm Be the Right Brand Ambassador for Your Enterprise?

Choosing an HR executive search firm isn’t just about finding the firm that can help your company hire the right employees – it’s also about finding a firm that can attract those employees by representing your brand in the best possible light. To get quality candidates who will fit in well with your company, you need someone who comes across the way you would if you were personally conducting the search.

The search firm’s representatives should listen actively and seek to understand the view of potential candidates, guiding the candidate’s experience and creating a positive connection with the opportunity. Most important, though, are two traits: relatability and respect. Look for a firm that can be relatable on both sides of the process – to your company and to candidates – and for people who always treat others with the respect they deserve, even when they are not interested in the opportunity being presented.

Who Is on the Team?

HR is, after all, about the people. At Blue Rock Search, you’ll have a full team to support you, with experienced individuals who all bring different skills, expertise, and types of involvement. One key thing to look for is prioritizing open communication: you should have open communication with your team, with direct access as needed. Keeping the lines of communication open will improve the likelihood of a successful working relationship – not to mention successful searches!

When hiring an HR executive search firm, you should also be asking if they have the bandwidth to support you and your company’s needs. This means ensuring that the team you hire has the specific skills as well as the time and space to devote to what you need.

Do They Understand HR?

A basic question, to be sure, but it absolutely cannot be overlooked. Knowledge of the positions and the necessary skills matter, as does experience on the job. An experienced HR professional will be able to become a consultative partner, ensuring the skills of the desired role meet the needs of your organization. An effective search partner is not just an order taker, but instead is there to assist you in defining the scope and scale of your requisition. They should be able to help figure out exactly where your needs and their expertise line up and how to find the right people to support your cultural objectives in order to get your company where it needs to go.

Do They Understand Your Culture?

When you extend trust to a search partner, you are extending your brand. This means that, by proxy, the search firm is an extension of your organization to the broader community.  It is imperative that the search firm understands your culture, after all, the people they hire will help shape and guide the culture of your organization for years to come.  I find this to be a tremendous responsibility that must be taken seriously; it is deeper than just putting people in roles, it is really about creating a trusting partnership that allows your organization to achieve stellar results, year after year.

Do They Have Contacts?

One of the major advantages of hiring an HR executive search firm is being able to utilize the connections and information they have built up – information that you, as an individual company, may not have access to on your own. Before deciding to hire a firm, you will want to ask questions about their database. Just as important: check in with the potential firm to determine whether you’ll be impacted by any off-limits restrictions, and, if so, how restrictive that will be.

What Is the Firm’s Process?

Always be sure to find out more about a firm’s search process to ensure that your priorities are aligned. For instance, at Blue Rock Search, we divide our process into four steps, each of which is then broken down into individual actions. We start with a launch phase, during which we work with clients to create a search strategy tailored to each position and begin assembling potential candidates. The recruiting phase then involves more direct information gathering about candidates ahead of presentations to the client. From there, we move to the interview phase which, just as it sounds, is the stage where client companies are put into direct contact with candidates for a formal interview. At the final stage, placement, we offer assistance with transitioning new hires into their new roles.

Any good process will also include assessments throughout. Blue Rock takes stock during every stage of the process, assessing the best matches between roles and candidates early on, then helping to prepare for interviews and figuring out what’s needed for a smooth transition after hiring.

Do The Appropriate Fact-Checking

As with any decision, it’s crucial to do your due diligence before hiring an HR executive search firm. Confirm important things like the details of fees and expense reimbursement and the length of their guarantee period. Of course, check references too – it’s just as important to check the references of a firm as a whole as it is to check references for an individual that you’re considering hiring!

Hiring an HR executive search firm can be an important step for your company, but it’s important to find the right fit. Blue Rock Search offers an expert team who’s ready to assist you in filling the roles your company needs to succeed. We’ll stay in touch with you long after the placement to ensure that everything is working out and to help adjust your personnel needs as your company grows. The goal is developing long-term relationships so you can build the organization you envision, and Blue Rock is ready to assist you with making that vision a reality.

By Ruben Moreno

About the Author

After a 25-year career in Corporate Human Resources and HR Executive Search, Ruben Moreno and his two partners co-founded Blue Rock Search based on a simple but ambitious vision of creating a firm that would “Change Lives and Organizations One Relationship at a Time.”  Ruben leads the Blue Rock HR and Diversity Executive Search practice specializing in the identification, assessment, recruitment, and onboarding of Chief HR Officers and Chief Diversity Officers and their respective teams — inclusive of leaders in Talent Acquisition, Total Rewards, HRBP’s, Learning & OD, HR Technology, HR Operations, and HR Analytics. Ruben has helped place hundreds of HR Executives and built deep relationships within the CHRO community across multiple industry verticals. His clients consider him a trusted partner who takes the time to understand their business and add value beyond executive search.

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