Employment agencies, search consultants differ

Employment agencies and executive search consultants are both in the business of finding people for jobs. But that's where most of the similarities end.

Dear Joan:
I am a sales representative with seven years' experience and I'm looking for a new job with a salary of at least $35,000.

What I would like to know is, should I contact an employment agency or an executive search agency?
I have heard that employment agencies only handle lower paying jobs, and I can't afford a cut in pay.

I would appreciate any advice and information you could give me.

I recommend that you contact an employment agency specializing in sales and marketing.

Executive search firms don't represent individuals, so they would probably be unable to help you.

There are some differences between an employment agency and an executive search-consulting firm.

"An employment agency represents both sides of the fence," says Rick Jurack, president of Butterfield's, Inc.

"Agencies work for the companies that call them with openings as well as for the job hunters that request their services." They attempt to find good matches between the requirements of a job and the abilities and qualifications of the people they represent. The agency relies on a high volume of jobs and applicants to increase the probabilities of finding a good match.

Many needs.
Companies use agencies for a number of reasons. For example, the position may require special qualifications that may be hard to find locally (like a cost accountant from the textile industry), or the company may not have time or the personnel to screen applicants. In the case of an entry-level job (like messenger), a company may not want to be swamped with applicants.

An executive search firm, on the other hand, represents the employer only on a retainer basis.

"For each job, the searcher meets with the company to determine the culture of the company, the details of the job, peer interactions, etc.," says Ed Schwarzkopf, president of Schwarzkopf Consultants, Inc. "Then the searcher goes looking for a person to fill those specific requirements. It's like finding a needle in a haystack."

Much research is done to find companies that do work similar to that of the hiring company. Patrick Murphy, president of P.J. Murphy and Associates, Inc., explained, "We employ a full-time person who does research to find the companies whose people have been exposed to specific, specialized areas.

When the executive searchers find someone with the right qualifications, they will approach that individual and explain the potential opportunity. In other words, don't call them, they'll call you.

Most employment agencies specialize in one or more fields like secretarial, data processing, sales and marketing or accounting. The specialties are listed under each agency in the Yellow Pages.

Within the agency, there is usually one person in each of these areas who specializes in that field.

One of the advantages in using an agency is that most are linked up with other agencies in the country. Many are franchised or use their network to tap into other parts of the country.

Paid by company.
Agencies normally work with jobs from entry level to around the $40,000 range. The company usually pays agencies when, and if, the candidate is hired. The general rule of thumb is 1% per thousand. For example, a $12,000 salaried position will net 12% of that amount for the agency, a $15,000 will pay 15% and so on.

Executive search firms handle fees much differently. They are retained by a company for approximately 30% of the estimated salary. The company that hires them pays all of their expenses during the search.

Because of the significant expense to the company, executive search consultants are usually only called in for high-ranking or highly specialized positions in the $40,000-and-up category.

Many agencies are using the search techniques to find highly specialized people. They don't necessarily do as much research as an executive search firm, but will use referrals to find people with the right background.

The growth trend is good for both agencies and search firms.

Jurack of Butterfield's comments, "The demands for special skills, pressure on companies to place spouses of relocated employees and a mobile work force will continue to create a demand for employment services.”

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616, mailto:info@joanlloyd.com, or www.JoanLloyd.com 
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