So you have selected your search firm and you are off to the races. It is now up to the search firm to coax as much information out of you as possible so that the value proposition of your company, and the potential impact of this specific role, can be presented in a clear and powerful manner.

However, the reality is that most search firms move into an automatic cut-and-paste mode at this stage. They may spend time with you and others in your company as a diligence step to flesh out the position spec, but once the conversations are over, most search consultants go on automatic, moving through the motions of creating a position profile, but rarely taking the necessary time to craft something substantive.

The reluctance of a search professional to fully engage in this process is mirrored by most business executives’ unwillingness to spend more than 15-30 minutes to articulate their thoughts on the position. Most search consultants do not insist that the business executive take more time, let alone transition the conversation with their client to encompass the strategic position of the company’s products and services within the marketplace, and how the position in question supports, enhances and forwards those efforts.

Most of the time, these conversations never occur, or if they do, they patently stay at the surface level. Ninety-nine percent of the search firm position specs out there detail company data which has been cut and pasted directly from the website. The description of the position and the ideal candidate is often accompanied by a laundry list of actions and ideal characteristics such as “good verbal and written communication skills” and “high integrity” which tell a candidate nothing about how and where these communication skills will be applied nor the issues and circumstances of the position that make high-integrity critically important.

The result is that the marketplace is rampant with these generic position profiles that all read, look and sound the same. Your search firm has failed in its very first task.

Why is this important?

The position profile, while many firms see it as a small, administrative detail, in today’s competitive marketplace is your first chance to truly engage an executive in the possibility that the position and your company represent. It also represents the credibility of the search firm and their knowledge of YOU, the client!!!

The sad fact is that most executives today do not even expect the search firm to know more than what is on the website. Candidates have basically accepted that the search firms, especially the name brand retained ones, have been retained for their brand and nothing else. Most do not expect to get any true insight until they meet with the client.

Bottom line is that this sets the tone for the rest of the search. Thus, companies have agreed in silence to be satisfied with the average, the adequate, and the non strategic when it comes to retaining a search partner. The result is a placement of a strong candidate by accident rather than by design.

Worse yet, you continue to pay for it, retaining the same search firms, paying the same fees to consultants over and over again who deliver the same mediocre results.

© 2007 Selker Leadership LLC

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