Answer: The Retained Search: The Relationship Oriented Model is offered by search firms that consider the long-term benefits of treating both candidates and clients with mutual respect. These search firms fill communications positions and are guided by values statements that talk about the importance of building relationships over time. The final fees due are similar to those charged by transactional search firms and I believe offer the best value and potential for successful long-term hires.
For these search firms, engaging with candidates leads to building an understanding about how their career goals could be a fit for a search. The evaluation would not be a “selling” experience but rather an objective look, asking if a position would be substantively better and support an individual’s career plans.
This approach has the potential to lead to a long term, successful hire and clarity around the decision to make a change. Here, the focus is not on short term gain, a drive to complete the search and collect a fee as quickly as possible. Instead it is to focus on the longer-term benefits of a match that is right for the hiring organization and the professional being hired.
In these circumstances, the search firm must have an in-depth understanding of the organization and its culture along with knowledge about the communications marketplace and career options. For example, is the company leading-edge in its segment or is it more conservative and risk averse, but interested in repositioning itself?
This expertise would allow the search firm to offer relevant input into all phases of the search process, which could be invaluable. For example, the search consultant may influence the content of the job description and the candidate specifications of the ideal finalist. That in turn could influence the outcome when the finalist is selected for the role. Often an organization knows it should hire a communications professional. However, just how that should be defined and what level it should be, may be where the search consultant can articulate the challenges of the role and the specific tasks involved.
The rhythm of the search is much smoother since the search consultant is in regular contact with the candidates. S/he provides updates and details about the process, setting expectations and providing feedback about the interviews. In short, the candidate would be treated as a partner in the process.
The speed of the decision-making can only be managed within the framework of the executive team’s availability to interview candidates, mostly likely through two rounds of meeting. Setting realistic expectations of what can be accomplished and remaining in regular contact re: logistics keeps the search on track and hopefully leads to a successful, no surprise conclusion.