How One Canadian-Based Recruiter Is ‘Building a Better Mousetrap’

October 4, 2015 – When we think of recruiting in North America, the focus shifts right to the United States. The East Coast – dominated by Wall Street’s talent needs — is crawling with headhunters focused on serving the financial services sector, the search  industry’s largest. High tech, life sciences, and the bustling world of retail and fashion all combine to create the biggest concentration of recruiters anywhere in the world. The West Coast, of course, is dominated by Silicon Valley – the country’s leading business incubator. Between the coasts, search activity is teeming.

But look North. Canada is one of the fastest growing global recruiting hubs. The service sector dominates the region, which includes leading companies in aerospace, financial services & banking, oil & gas, logging and automotive. Companies here are seen as progressive and cross-border search work for many of them is standard practice, almost routine.

All of the large, brand name search firms have been here for years. And of course Caldwell Partners dominates the market; it is a consistently ranked Top 10 Americas recruiting firm on the annual rankings of Hunt Scanlon Media. But like the U.S., Canada has become fertile ground for boutique recruiters focused on quality work, responsiveness, flexibility, and most importantly to clients, fast delivery of talent.

“There was an article in the Economist a couple of years ago that said one of the global search firms did an audit of their own placements and only 40 percent of placed candidates were still in the role after 18 months,” said Andrew Norrie, managing partner and co-founder of Toronto-based Four Corners Group. “Our same statistic is 98.5 percent. That’s why clients keep returning.” Andrew said that in a tightly confined and competitive market like Canada, if he isn’t delivering for clients 24/7, they have a thousand other options available to them on how to fill a role.

“I like to think of our firm as being more innovative,” Andrew said. “Some of our services are very unique in the Canadian market – which is also, in part, why we’ve expanded into the United States. We’ve succeeded in ‘building a better mousetrap.’”

Andrew has an extensive search career that began 17 years ago. So, how’s he built a better mousetrap? “We’re hands-on with clients, our process offers a complete and holistic approach to talent acquisition, and we deliver a personalized service, and we execute with excellence.”

Four Corners Group has only just started an expansion plan into the U.S., where only 10 percent of the firm’s revenue was generated from U.S. clients last year. “We’ve been very thoughtful about the kinds of U.S. clients to partner with; it has to make sense for them and for us. We would only take on a client if we could add immediate value and make a significant impact. The recruiting industry is fortunate in that technology is a huge facilitator for enabling cross-border business. Again, it comes down to our success rate and size – both of which weigh in our favor – and the uniqueness of our services.”

The firm formed an association with InterSearch, one of the largest global search networks, six years ago. For boutique firms looking to gain an instant global footprint, this is the way to do it. “InterSearch was a great achievement for our firm and it continues to play a critical role in our mission to identify leaders wherever they might be.”

Andrew and his partners launched a product development search in the medical device industry recently and the mandate included finding someone with very precise skill sets. “We ended up relocating a British citizen, working in Portugal at the time, to Canada for the role. Our client was thrilled with the outcome.” They also had a global technology client based in Canada who leveraged the firm’s InterSearch network. “They had to hire sales people in Belgium, Germany, Italy and France, and were incredibly appreciative that we were able to introduce them to excellent local search firms in each of those markets. It made a significant impact on the client’s business because we were able to mobilize quickly and execute.”

To augment its global office platform, Andrew said he uses social media daily. “We use Twitter to share thought leadership and communicate with clients; we use Facebook as a resource for younger people in the workforce — those who are at the early stages of building their careers.”

Like every recruiter, he also uses LinkedIn as a resource to help with candidate research. “But we are cautious not to over rely on it. Not every candidate is on LinkedIn — it’s not the complete candidate landscape for any search. As search professionals, we need to see LinkedIn for what it is – a single source of candidate information, but most certainly not the only source.” Andrew said that while LinkedIn has opened up the market of candidate information, that’s quite different from recruitment and assessment. “There are still so many components to the overall search process that require thought and expertise. In fact, now that so many search firms and companies have access to the same candidate information, the focus of our job as recruiters becomes engaging and influencing people.”

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief, Hunt Scanlon Media

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