How to Choose a Search Firm – Search Firm Discovery and the Sourcing Process


Choosing a search firm you trust requires some understanding of how such firms operate. In this series, we’ll share important tips on how to select a search firm that suits your needs.

There are two common types of search firms: retained search firms, and contingency search firms. It’s important to understand the differences between retained and contingency search firms.

In this post, we’ll focus on retained search, which facilitates the recruitment of passive candidates.

Before a search officially commences, it is imperative to understand some key characteristics of the firm and how it operates. One way to do this is by taking note of or researching how a firm goes about its search.

One such question to ask, is how the firm qualifies the position in question.

Quality search firms will help you build a compelling narrative that is far more comprehensive and enticing than most job postings found online.

Ask yourself: “Is the process aimed at soliciting the broadest possible market?” “How does the firm articulate company selling points and the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSA’s) needed to perform the work in question?”

It’s important to consider whether you’ll want a more iterative, hands-on approach, as firms like ours expect your input both in defining the final position profile and the target market research universe.

Furthermore, it’s important to ask how the firm will identify, access, and attract the most qualified candidates for the position.

To compile a long list of potential prospects, quality search firms rely on both existing industry contacts and industry research to give them the broadest applicant pool. Therefore, you should be informed on their existing database depth, access to existing potential prospects, connections with relevant second-degree parties, and how the firm goes about supplementing existing contacts through research.

For example, does the firm you’re working with actively target competitors?  Here at GeneCoda, we actively target profiles of similar prospects at competitor companies.

You might also inquire about how the firm you’re working with reports on search progress.

We present a detailed report of the companies we contact, the titles of the contacts within those companies, and contact results.

Such comprehensive reporting enables our clients to get deeper market insights, promotes substantial market and brand awareness, and, of course, ensures that they find the ideal candidate.

If you’d like some help with this, and to understand how you can overcome some of these issues, please contact us.