A New Way to Build Partnerships with Recruitment Firms

With demand high but top talent in short supply, more companies are seeing the value of building a partnership with recruitment firms. The key to success: Finding a balance of interests, says a new report by Executives Unlimited.

May 15, 2018 – Qualified executive talent is becoming increasingly difficult to recruit. The recent drop of the unemployment rate to a 19-year low of 3.9 percent has impacted the availability of talent, and as a result businesses are realizing the benefits of building long-term relationships with recruiters.

“Companies are more open than ever to hire retained search firms for executive recruitment as opposed to a contingency search,” said a recent report by search firm Executives Unlimited.

Recruiting individuals with demonstrated experience requires that all parties be invested in a long-term relationship in which both the client and search professional are equally invested and accountable to communication and follow-through. “Further, this relationship requires both parties’ interests to be aligned,” said the report. “It’s when the relationship is not balanced, the goals are not achieved.”

Today, companies whose management teams are not aligned internally are struggling, said Tomilee Tilley Gill, founder and president of Executives Unlimited. “Before looking to recruit outside talent, an organization should first look internally to deal with any issues before bringing in a variable.”


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Over 90 percent of the executives placed by the search firm since 2011 remain in their positions or have been promoted, said Ms. Tilley Gill. “While this statistic defines our standards, what truly stands out are the stories,” she said. “Stories of individuals staying 10 years at their roles when they’d only had jobs up to three years before. Stories of candidates rising to the top of their companies and making them better because of it. With interests aligned, so much is possible.”

Executives Unlimited offered a five-step process that it uses to help find top senior executives.

  • Step One – Learning & Evaluation – Begin each assignment by learning about the client’s industry, conducting a competitive analysis and evaluating the company’s business and hiring needs to ensure that that the recruiter understands the client’s specific objectives.
  • Step Two – Research & Identification – Research sources, identify and assess prospective candidates. It is critical to present the findings on a regular basis to keep clients informed of your progress, said the firm, as well as to further benchmark the “must haves” vs. the “nice to haves” initially identified at the start of the search.
  • Step Three – Prequalification – Once you have identified an initial slate of possible candidates, begin a deep dive into their backgrounds to determine their overall viability for the search. Consider more than just the skill level and achievements of the candidates: Look at leadership style, drive, initiative and overall character. Cultural fit is as important as experiential fit when finding the right candidate and ensuring a long-term hire. Work diligently to provide a comprehensive view of each candidate before you even meet them face to face.

How to Find Executive Leaders in a Candidate-Driven Market
Across the board, in every industry, today’s candidate-driven market is fueled by growing demand for top talent against a landscape of short supply. What led to this tight marketplace is explained in a report by Slayton Search Partners, which also offers suggestions to help companies attract the best talent.


  • Step Four – Presentation & Interview – Provide detailed presentation packages for each candidate recommended for consideration. Review the candidates with clients and share impressions to assist you in selecting the strongest interview pool. Provide suggested interview questions, identifying key constituents in your organization to assemble an interview team, and provide interview training, if requested.
  • Step Five – Placement & Onboarding – Once final candidates have been selected undertake an additional level of due diligence through professional and criminal background checking to complete the evaluation process. When you determine the ideal candidate for the position, help in the negotiation of terms of the offer, financial incentives, relocation and objectives for success in the first 18 months of employment.

Related: Five Ways to Identify Transformational Talent

Ms. Tilley Gill serves as a coach and mentor at Executives Unlimited, as well as for its clients. She helps companies define how they envision their goals, and examines all aspects of their operations, laying the groundwork for a successful search process.

Ms. Tilley Gill recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss how Generation Z might impact the workforce in coming years. Following are excerpts from that discussion.

———————————————————————

Tomilee Tilley GillTomilee, how have recent advancements in technology affected traditional recruitment?

Technology has improved the ability to research and identify possible candidates. The information you can gain from LinkedIn or just simple internet searching can help you develop a short list of prospects much faster than ever before. Additionally, technology helps to get the word out about a job opening. Websites like Indeed make it easy for a candidate to find job openings without going to multiple sites. Thus, visibility has increased greatly, both on the recruiter and candidate side. While these aspects of improved technology are positive, there are negatives as well. While the volume of responses has increased, the number of respondents who meet the stated job requirements has not. A potential candidate can click a button and apply to dozens of jobs in just one minute. Even if a job description states that qualified applicants must be commutable or must have demonstrated experience in a certain industry, people will apply anyway. This has always happened, but now it’s happening at an increased rate. Consequently, when you get 600 responses to one job posting over the course of a weekend, it takes that much longer to weed through.

Related: Retaining New Hires Now Seen As a Critical Issue

Do you see these sorts of changes/developments happening within Executives Unlimited?

Here’s what hasn’t changed – our process and due diligence. A misconception of the impact of technology is an increased time to fill a position. Technology can provide improved information and more access to possible candidates, but that doesn’t mean they will be interested in the opportunity available. The cultural fit between client and candidate remains the most important aspect of the long-term success of a placement. Determining this requires many conversations between us and our clients, site visits and in-person meetings with candidates. Technology can help the recruiting industry, but it cannot replace the human touch.


How to Increase the Odds for Successful Hiring
Many ingredients go into finding the right individual for a specific leadership role. The key to a successful hire is finding the balance between the science of management assessment and the art, says Nancie Whitehouse, founder of the talent acquisition consulting firm Whitehouse Advisors.


The strength of the relationship is key to any search assignment. Do you see the process of building relationships with clients becoming easier?

The strength of our relationships with clients is extremely important. As with any relationship, open and honest communication is the foundation. Entering a search can leave a client feeling vulnerable to exposing issues within their organization, whether it be a financial or operational turnaround, or other idiosyncrasies that might make filling a position difficult. It’s vital that we are made aware of these issues at the outset of a search to bring forth the most appropriate candidates. We take pride in the integrity of our work and protecting our client’s interests. We require each candidate to sign a mutual non-disclosure agreement before we divulge our client’s identity or share any proprietary information. We work very hard to gain the trust of our clients so that they view the relationship as a partnership, where we are all looking to achieve a common goal.

“The cultural fit between client and candidate remains the most important aspect of the long-term success of a placement.” 

What’s more challenging?

One of the biggest challenges in building relationships is the pace at which life moves. Decision-makers are stretched thin, with limited time to devote to face-to-face meetings, conference calls, etc.; however, it is invaluable to have regular check-ins with the client, assessing progress, benchmarking the skill level of candidates and scheduling interviews. Regular communication can also alert us to changes within the organization that may affect the search, either the pace or profile of the successful candidate. Good relationships require hard work on both sides, but the long-term benefits are its own reward.

Related: Five Strategies to Making the Right Hire

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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