Creative Talent Endeavors Launches AI-Powered Algorithm For Transparency In Search Pricing

Artificial intelligence is coming to talent acquisition, and executive search firm Creative Talent Endeavors hopes to inject transparency into executive search pricing with a new AI-algorithm. The firm’s founder and CEO Kyle Samuels recently joined Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss his firm’s new service, what he is seeing in today’s search market, and what is happening with organizations diversity and inclusion efforts!

January 10, 2024 – Executive search and HR advisory firm Creative Talent Endeavors recently launched Fairantee, an algorithm that uses AI and data to allow companies to understand how much they should be paying for an executive search before they sign a contract. “Traditional executive search firms charge the same price for a search without taking into account how difficult it is to fill the role, meaning you pay just as much for an easily sourced hire as for a more complex one,” said Kyle Samuels, founder and CEO. “That model has been used to boost the profit margins of search firms for too long and is, quite simply, highway robbery. With Fairantee, we will bring transparency to our industry for the first time and give companies actionable insight into the price of every unique hire.”

Mr. Samuels explains that the technology behind Fairantee will take into account the difficulty or ease of each search assignment by measuring how factors including total compensation, location, workplace environment, and title of the role impact how much effort will be required to fill the role, and for the first time in the search industry, that data will determine a fair price for the client. Fairantee allows companies to get a quote for their search upfront, and keep that quote for five days as they make the best decision for their company.

The Fairantee service is available for free. The quote companies receive from the tool can be used to retain Creative Talent Endeavors, but it can also be used by CEOs, and procurement and HR departments to understand more broadly what a fair price should be for an executive search. 

“Businesses need to start understanding that just like in Vegas, the house always wins, and search firms are the house,” Mr. Samuels said. “A percentage-based fee structure helps firms make a fortune because they are incentivized to present the most highly paid candidate possible, to increase their income. Right now, the one-price-fits-all approach is not equitable – why should a company pay thousands of dollars more than it costs to source a hire? Fairantee won’t always be the lowest price, but it will always use real data to determine a fair price for executive search.”

Mr. Samuels found his passion for improving organizations through talent after early career roles in tech, entertainment, and executive search. After earning his MBA, he joined GE’s rotational HR Leadership Program before moving to Yum! Brands where he held several leadership roles. In 2017, Mr. Samuels founded Creative Talent Endeavors. Based in Charlotte, NC, the firm has helped find senior talent for Fortune 500 companies such as Lowes, Yum! Brands, Kroger, Anheuser-Busch, and Chipotle, as well as high-growth startups and technology companies such as Strava and Klaviyo. Creative Talent Endeavors has recorded an average annual growth rate of 181 percent over three years, ranking fourth among Charolotte Business Journal’s Fast 50.

Mr. Samuels recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss his career in executive search, what is keeping his firm busy, and thoughts and diversity and inclusion efforts across the U.S.

Kyle, explain what led you to a career in executive search? 

The pitch I received was that after a year as a research analyst, I’d either decide I wanted to work in one of the industries or functions I was recruiting for, or I would either fall in love with executive search. It was the latter for me, I loved the puzzle solving aspect of identifying the right candidate for the recruiter, and then as I was promoted to recruit myself, I realized how much I both enjoyed talking to candidates and learning about them and, helping clients get better by delivering them high caliber talent.

What types of clients does your firm serve?

We are industry agnostic, although the restaurant industry and tech are our biggest clients. We specialize at the director and above level, and focus on four functions; HR, finance/strategy, go to market, and product/engineering. This is just for executive search; we also have an HR advisory function that helps clients solve all problems around talent, people, and culture. Last year our smallest client was a seed stage company with five people, our largest was Fortune 30.

What roles are keeping you busy today and what positions are toughest to find qualified candidates?

It’s been encouraging to see an increased demand for HR executives during these last few months of the year. Because HR is one of our superpowers, those rarely give us a problem. These days, the toughest searches aren’t based on the title of the role, but when the client wants someone to come into an office more than three days a week. Most candidates are okay with hybrid work, but when you get into four or five days in office, we find executives are more likely to pass on the opportunity.

“These days, the toughest searches aren’t based on the title of the role, but when the client wants someone to come into an office more than three days a week.”

Can you discuss what other kinds of services your firm provides?

In addition to HR consulting services, earlier this year Creative Talent Endeavors launched Fairantee, the first AI powered data driven pricing tool for executive search assignments. For over 100 years search firms have used the same, arbitrary percentage of an unknowable future salary (that the search firms controls because they decide what candidates to show the client, and the search firm is incentivized to present the client with the most expensive candidate they can, because that is how they increase their profit). This didn’t sit right with me; not only does it not serve the client, but this old way of doing things is so expensive it excludes smaller companies who cannot afford a $100k minimum search fee, and that ensures that the old boys club of search continues to gatekeep talent. Fairantee allows you to enter the particulars of the role you are looking to fill, and you receive a price that doesn’t change based on what the hire is paid.

Discuss your firm’s approach to providing a diverse slate of candidates?

This one is simple, Creative Talent Endeavors has a diverse slate of employees. From generation, to education, to location, to ethnicity, to gender. When a client has a diversity mandate, the recruiter they speak with will likely be diverse, and when our advisory services clients have projects, it is a multicultural team that will be guiding them.

We recently did a story on how company’s diversity efforts have been lagging recently after being at the forefront when the George Floyd incident can you discuss what you have seen?

I actually called out this trend before the McKinsey data came out in an article I wrote for Newsweek. That 2020 wave of organizations focusing on DEI is over. Let’s not just blame the companies, or say they are racist or misogynistic. The bigger issue is that organizations do not spend the time to let people know why diversity helps their organization, because they don’t measure it. Companies must do a better job of showing the ROI in DEI. In the current state they want everyone to get excited when they go to visit HBCUs or hire more women and people of color at the executive level. What they don’t do is explain how those HBCU visits, or diverse executives have helped the company get better. Now, if instead of merely announcing the HBCU recruiting, they say that by going to HBCUs they have managed to cut new hire attrition by half, or that by hiring a Latina to run marketing they have increased their market share in central America by 25 percent. Companies could show how these diverse initiatives make the company better. If you show the value, you will have a lot less resistance to these initiatives.

Related: Ways to Avoid Unintended Bias During the Executive Hiring Process

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Executive Editor; Lily Fauver, Senior Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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