How to partner with the right recruiter

By Philip Foster | 04 June 2024

Philip Foster offers some practical advice to local authorities on how to partner with the right recruiter to streamline recruitment processes and enhance staff retention

There’s no doubt about it, times are tough as local authorities struggle to deliver more with limited resources across all areas – including staff recruitment.

While it might seem counterintuitive to engage an executive search firm when resources are squeezed, the reality is that specialist support can deliver significant (and much needed) time and cost savings for the local government sector.

Firstly, it is important to ensure your recruitment partner has extensive experience of successfully recruiting within the sector and has a professional network that extends beyond the reach of traditional recruitment methods. Executive search consultants are experts in reaching passive candidates who are not actively seeking new opportunities but may be open to the right role if approached in the correct way.

This is particularly useful for local authorities looking to attract commercial sector talent into local government. Your recruitment partner will be able to ‘sell’ the opportunity to those potential candidates who otherwise may have neither seen nor replied to a job advert. Your search partner will be representing your local authority as they reach out to candidates so always check they have a good track record in conducting searches confidentially and discreetly. Don’t be afraid to ask for references from previous clients and more importantly, from candidates that have been placed (more on that later)

Most search firms will handle the entire process which helps to accelerate the recruitment timeline while minimising the risk of a costly hiring mistake. Search consultants should be adept at implementing inclusive hiring practices to attract a diverse pool of applicants and will take significant time pressure away from internal HR teams by handling all the heavy lifting during the recruitment process. This can include everything from writing and placing adverts, producing recruitment packs, handling candidate queries, applications, shortlisting, technical interviews and psychometric assessments to supporting applicants with their CVs and supporting statements and even sitting on the final interview panel.

Using a skilled search partner to focus on your key talent acquisition projects enables you to find people who are not only strong on paper, but also a great fit for the organisation’s culture. Search consultants should take the time to understand the current challenges and long-term vision for the local authority and how the role fits in, as well as knowing which skills and attributes are required for the job (and will know how to evaluate these qualities during the hiring process). This not only enables a swift and seamless transition into your organisation but greatly increases the chances of that candidate staying for the long term (in turn reducing staff turnover and increasing employee morale).

I feel it’s important that any search and talent acquisition experts you work with not only have a successful track record of delivery, but are genuinely passionate about the recruitment process and the sector they operate in.

As I mentioned before, it is important that clients ask for references from those who have worked with the executive search firm previously – both as a hirer and as a placed candidate. Other local authority clients will confirm if your recruitment partner understands the sector, while candidates will give you a real insight into how the search firm and the expert you are working with actually operates. You will be able to assess if their approach is one that will work for you and your organisation and make an informed decision that you will be able to work well together

Remember, credible search firms will only place people in roles where they are happy, challenged and likely to remain for some time. I would expect all search firms to have a 100% or very close to 100% success rate with placed candidates staying in post for a number of years.

In summary, executive search can deliver value for money in a sector where every penny counts. At a time when local authorities need to evidence value for money more than ever before, partnering with the right recruiter can pay dividends in terms of ensuring vacancies are filled effectively for the long-term.

Philip Foster is Director of Ocean Edge Executive Search

This article is sponsored content for The MJ

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