Search firms are extremely important for sourcing qualified professionals, managers and executives for client companies. As a business psychologist, I have often assessed people that search consultants’ source for companies we both serve. I once heard an HR executive say that “there’s really not a dime’s worth of difference in search firms.” My experience indicates that there are definite differences in search firm effectiveness.
Some 25 years ago, I decided to package executive assessment and search services as a distinctive and cost effective product for our clients. I discovered that while I was pretty good at sourcing qualified candidates, my objectivity for assessing their potential fit and contribution was compromised. The main reason was the fee that I could earn for finding and placing candidates far exceeds what I could charge for just doing an executive assessment.
So, I had to look at myself in the mirror and ask: “Mickey, do you want to assess talent as a business psychologist or find it as a search consultant?” For me, the answer was and still is, the first option. This personal and career discovery also got me thinking about how I saw my role and relationship with search consultants in helping client companies select the right people. The operative decision was to optimize my independence.
In this sense, I have found that it is best to:
To summarize and conclude, search consultants provide a very important service. While these professionals may display objectivity and insight differences, their primary mission is to find, advocate and place candidates. In this sense, they truly earn their fees. The assessment psychologist’s purpose is to provide an independent viewpoint on candidate fit and contribution potential. Fees are respectable but typically a lot lower, and payments and client relationships often sustain whether or not candidates are placed. Search consultant and assessment psychologist purposes can get blurred to the detriment of objectivity and well-informed selection decisions. That’s why it’s important to assure sufficient professional role separation.
Dr. Mickey Fineberg is the Managing Partner of Delta Consultants, a business psychology firm based in King of Prussia, PA. Dr. Mickey has been assessing job candidates at all levels for 30 years. His clients are diverse public, PE and family businesses.Print Article