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6 Essential Pieces of Relationship Advice When Working With A Search Partner

February 14, 2024

In many cases, working with a search partner can feel familiar to navigating the complexities of personal relationships. Just as conflicts of interest, communication issues, priority misalignment, and lack of mutual trust can damage personal connections, they can similarly undermine your organization’s professional partnerships. Creating a strong bond with your search partner is critical to forming a positive, mutually beneficial, and successful relationship. However, before “making it official,” consider these six essential pieces of relationship advice.

1. Pay attention to conflicts of interest

When vetting a potential search partner, pay attention to potential conflicts of interest. Because of incentives and comp structures, recruiters may try to guide you toward a hasty decision or an expensive candidate to gain the highest percentage of earnings, which is a major red flag.

A quality search partner will be transparent about their strengths and weaknesses to provide a balanced understanding of what the relationship will look like. In addition, they will set guardrails to protect the integrity of the search. At Chasm, for example, a portion of every executive search project fee is tied to the successful employment of our placements, rather than a signed offer letter; we call this our “At-Risk” guarantee. This not only helps ensure the quality of the placement but also builds trust for our clients and candidates. 

2. Establish clear communication expectations

As in any relationship, communication is key. By establishing clear communication expectations at the beginning of your partnership, you can ensure a more efficient search. Prioritize weekly update calls with your search partner and refrain from cancellations or no-shows as this can cause bottlenecks. Lack of communication typically results in misalignment, so when in doubt, over-communicate with your search partner via email, Zoom, or even text. 

3. Make sure your priorities are aligned

Before reviewing a candidate, you and your search partner should be aligned on a few key items: the context, responsibilities, and KPIs of the role; the go-to-market strategy; profile must-haves like location and growth; and the target universe, meaning certain people or source companies the recruiters should consider. Using this information, your search partner will create a Candidate Scorecard. 

A Candidate Scorecard is a helpful tool that identifies the necessary elements of the desired candidate to qualify or disqualify candidates throughout the process. When used correctly, a Candidate Scorecard is the source of truth for all decision-makers that keeps the search process on track. It helps to ensure priority alignment and clear communication between the client, key stakeholders, and the recruiting team. Additionally, it saves time later in the search by providing clear reference points and criteria for your team to refer back to and measure candidates against, helping to avoid rabbit holes and dead ends.

4. Keep an open mind 

The adage, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” applies to candidates, too. Some clients can be quick to reject candidates based solely on their LinkedIn profile without ever realizing the quality of their skills and background. Even if you don’t immediately see the potential, remember that your search partner has presented this person to you for a reason. “Outside the box” candidates can bring diverse professional experience and perspectives to your company, so keep an open mind. Be willing to invest 30 minutes of your time with a candidate your search partner recommends — they may just surprise you.

Related: 8 Reasons Your LinkedIn Profile Can Disqualify You From a Search

5. Collaborate on the candidate interview process

Few things impact the efficiency of the client/search partner relationship quite like an inefficient candidate interview process. Although this process is not created and managed by your search partner, there is the opportunity for collaboration. A trusted search partner can share best practices and lessons learned to help you craft an interview process that benefits you as the client as well as your candidates. By working together, you can set clear goals and processes to ensure efficiency without letting promising candidates slip through the cracks. 

It’s important to remember that as the client, your team plays a critical role in how quickly — or how slowly — a successful candidate is placed. Your search partner is responsible for providing quality candidates who meet your search criteria in a timely manner, but they have no control over how rapidly those candidates move through the interview process. This is why it is critical to select the right partner with the necessary level of experience to help you land your ideal candidate quickly without compromising quality. 

6. Trust your partner  

No relationship will succeed without trust. A quality search partner is like a matchmaker for your organization who truly wants to see you and the placement succeed. Trust their expertise, respect their insights, and value them as a trusted advisor to your company. In doing so, you may just have a partner for life.

About Chasm Partners

Chasm Partners is on a mission to transform healthcare one leader at a time. We partner with the nation’s top investors and innovative companies in healthcare services and technology to source, place and develop key Executive and Non-Executive talent in their organizations. We believe that talent is a prerequisite for an organization’s success, and are proud to leverage our network, expertise, and technology to our client’s advantage. 

Connect with us to learn more about our Executive Search, Non-Executive Search, and Leadership Coaching and Development services.

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