Making ‘Search’ Affordable

The pendulum has most certainly swung towards being a ‘candidate driven’ market, particularly at Director and Board level. For employers, this means there is greater competition for the best candidates. Candidates are now likely to be more selective about the potential opportunities they will consider, and command a much stronger bargaining position. This market can make it harder for start-ups and SME’s to recruit when competing against the profile, security, scale and packages larger companies can offer.

Additional activity and confidence in the recruitment market also has a ‘knock-on’ effect when it comes to engaging with recruitment providers. Buoyed up by an increased pipeline of work, many recruiters will be less willing to negotiate their fees. For smaller companies wanting to initiate a ‘search’ to find a senior executive, the cost involved is often the major hurdle. 

Executive search firms normally charge 25-30% of the first year’s salary as their fee. The fee is split into 3 equal instalments; payable upon signed acceptance of the agreement between client and search provider, presentation of the shortlist and finally upon the successful candidate’s written acceptance of employment. Especially in a start- up scenario where funds and cash flow are often limited, this fee structure can be prohibitive. 

Larger companies are continuing to focus their efforts on pro-actively sourcing and recruiting candidates via their in-house HR functions. Combining talent acquisition specialists, with a strong and active website based presence can provide employers with a pipeline of potential candidates. However, start-ups and SME’s are unlikely to be able to support the cost and recruitment volume this method requires.

Here at Nicola Gardiner Executive Search, our solution allows start-up’s and SME’s to be able to ‘search’ for their senior level staff, whilst reducing overall cost. 

Discuss with us your desired profile well before the role actually becomes ‘live’. Given our extensive network, it may be that some possible candidates are already known or can be identified readily. In this event, you may decide a full search exercise is not necessary, and a reduced contingent fee can be agreed. 

For a full retained search exercise, we agree a fixed fee. We ask for a small amount up front, but the remainder is only payable upon completion ie contract signed by successful candidate. 

For company founders and CEO’s who have their own network of potential candidates, we recommend combining any candidates suggested by the client with candidates identified by a search. This ensures that a thorough search with an identical set of criteria has been carried out. 

For help and advice on any senior recruitment matters, do please contact Nicola Gardiner on 07900 912941 or