Browse FAQ Topics
The Candidate Experience
Do you want the short answer or the long answer?Here in the Common Questions section, you'll find short answers to common questions. Just select one of the topics above. For more substantial answers to more complex questions, please visit our Resource Center.
What do you expect of me as a candidate for one of your searches?Just be yourself. We’re going to be as transparent as possible with you. We’ll be clear about our expectations, so you won’t have to guess where you stand or guess what we think. The more we understand what’s important to you, the better we can serve you. We don’t expect you to be familiar with all the protocols in job seeking. It’s fine if you have not interviewed in a while, and okay if you are not sure what your market value is. Don’t worry if you have basic questions, and seriously, it’s no problem if you decide a job is not right for you.
Are you looking for people with my background?We’re an open book; you can see all of our current searches posted here. These openings change every few days, so even if you don't see a current search that interests you, you are still welcome to send us your resume. Just email it to resumes@StaffingAdvisors.com.
What is the candidate experience like at Staffing Advisors?Most candidates describe us as responsive, professional and thorough. You can read what people say about us here.
Do you help me negotiate a fair salary?Yes. We always counsel employers to pay the fair market rate for skills and to never low-ball a job offer. Salary negotiations should never devolve into a back and forth haggling contest, like buying a used car. Nor should they rely on keeping quiet, and hoping for the best.
How long does your recruiting process usually take?Ideally the entire process takes about 4 to 6 weeks from when you first hear about a job until you are offered the job. In reality, scheduling conflicts can drag things out a bit. Every search moves at its own pace, so if you are being considered for one of our searches, please feel free to ask us how long your particular search might last.
Why are you a better choice than the competition?We might not be. We’ll treat you professionally, but that does not mean we are always the best option for you. There are plenty of wonderful jobs you can find without a search firm, and plenty of very well-run executive search firms. A search firm is merely the ambassador for the employer and a potentially useful tour guide for you. Which search firm is best for you depends on their client list and your individual needs. Some contingency model search firms will represent candidates simultaneously to multiple employers. Retained search firms like Staffing Advisors will not, we will only present you to one employer at a time. In the Resource center you can learn more about the differences between contingency and retained model search firms. That said, we’re good enough, we’re smart enough, and doggone it, people like us.
Will you share the job’s salary range with me before the first interview?No. The reason we don’t share the proposed salary range up front is because it’s preliminary - it can change. We believe that fair market compensation can only be properly determined after an employer has interviewed several people who meet the position requirements. Often, during the hiring process it becomes obvious that an employer needs to adjust their target salary range up or down to adapt to market conditions. That said, we will not recommend you for an interview if your salary expectations are outside the range the employer will consider --we try very hard not to waste your time.
Do you ever charge a candidate for anything?No. Our fees are paid by the employer, so there is never any cost to you. (But that’s true for almost every search firm.)
How do you maintain candidate confidentiality?We never share your resume with anyone without your permission. We never check references without your written permission. Even if you work for a client or a friend of ours, we’ll never breathe a word to anyone. We’ve had many, many searches where two friends were competing for the same job, and neither one had any idea the other one was being considered. But that said, there is really nothing special about our policy. It’s fundamental to every executive search firm. You should expect this from any reputable firm.
How flexible will you be with scheduling interviews for me?If we've contacted you about one of our searches, we assume you're probably pretty darn busy achieving great things. So naturally we assume you will not be at our beck and call.
Will you keep me informed of where I stand?Yes. We often get thank you notes from candidates, and the thing people appreciate most is how well we kept them informed. You can read a few comments from candidates here.
Be honest, are you going to be pushy and salesy?Excellent question, let me ask my sales manager. But before I go, if I answered that, could we put you in a new car today? (Just kidding!)
How do I submit my resume for future consideration?We post all of our open jobs at www.staffingadvisors.com/jobs. If you don't see something interesting there, you are always welcome to send your resume to Resumes@staffingadvisors.com.
Can you help me with my resume?Sorry, no we can’t. Unfortunately, we simply don’t have the capacity to do this for free, and charging candidates to provide resume writing support is widely considered to be a conflict of interest for an executive search firm.
How close is your relationship with your clients?We view our work as a partnership, not just a transaction. Our clients usually feel the same way. We're kinda like Lays potato chips (where you can't eat just one). Rarely do we handle only one search for an organization - in fact more than 80% of our total work comes from clients who have engaged our services three or more times. That said, we’re not everyone’s cup of tea, and occasionally we work with an organization where there is no partnership despite our best efforts. (If you are working with us on a search, you are welcome to ask us how well we know the organization. It may sound like a personal question, but we promise not to be offended.)
Are you active on social media?Yes. (Some would say hyperactive.) You can see all the ways to connect with us on the top line of our website. Yup just scroll all the way up to the very top of this page, on the right side of that pretty blue bar. But hey, if that's not your thing, no worries ... you can always connect with us via the trusty old telephone or perhaps email.
Do your clients ever interview candidates who were presented by other search firms?Retained search firms like Staffing Advisors are almost never “in competition” with either our clients or other search firms. Because of the nature of our contractual agreements with our clients, 99% of the time we are the only search firm working on filling the position. So normally we interview every candidate (even internal candidates) before our clients do. That said, few things in life are absolute, so very, very occasionally our clients will meet someone we did not put forward.
Can you represent me in my search for a job?We do not act as your “agent” or representative on your search. Some search firms that operate on a contingency basis will do this for you. In the Resource center you can learn more about the differences between contingency and retained model search firms.
The Client Experience
Do you handle national searches?Yes. Because of the nature of our candidate research process, we’re not limited geographically. That said, the majority of our clients are in the Greater Washington Metropolitan Area. Outside of Washington DC, we often handle searches in New York, Chicago, LA and San Francisco.
What kind of time commitment does Staffing Advisors require from the hiring manager?We minimize the amount of time we request from hiring managers. All in, we’ll need about 3 hours of your time during the first 4 weeks of the hiring process (before the interviews). We need about 2 hours for the initial meeting, about an hour a week later to review a few candidate profiles and to approve the recruiting message. Then we won’t need much of your time until the interviews. You can read all about our process in the Results Based Hiring Process Overview.
What support does Staffing Advisors provide for the hiring process? What are the deliverables?The cruel irony of staffing, is that you only need to focus on it when you are already overworked and understaffed. That's why we design our process to minimize demands on the hiring manager:
- Instead of asking the hiring manager to update the job description, we methodically gather the relevant information from the manager in our first meeting, so that our first deliverable is an updated job description.
- Instead of asking the hiring manager to reconcile all the different expectations of key stakeholders, we invite the stakeholders to our first meeting and reconcile the differences on the spot.
- Once the recruiting is underway, instead of bombarding the manager with phone calls and sending a flurry of emails, we present all the candidates at once, in a scheduled conversation, using a dashboard with all the critical information on just two pages.
- Instead of expecting the hiring manager to figure out how to best interview the candidates, we provide three hours' worth of behavioral interview questions customized to the position.
- Instead of relying on the interview to predict success on the job, we collaborate with the hiring manager to develop appropriate work sample testing exercises. (Work sample testing has been proven to be a better predictor of success on the job than the interview itself.)
- And of course we check references, verify education and do everything necessary to allow the hiring manager to make a fully informed decision.
What functional areas and career levels do you specialize in?Potential new clients often ask us if we have handled a search like theirs before. On the surface, that's a fine question, but when you dig a bit deeper, underneath that question you get to what people really want to know (but the subsurface questions seem a bit impolite to ask.) Digging down, the real questions probably sound more like this:
- Do we grasp the business reality of your current situation? Do we "get it?”
- Are we going to waste your time? Will you have to spend a lot of time bringing us up to speed on your needs?
- Are we good at what we do? How risky will it be to engage us? (How likely are we to fail, and potentially embarrass you?)
- Do we have a reliable process to ensure consistently positive results on a search like yours?
- How long will the search take, and will we be a useful tour guide to help you better understand the market and the available candidates?
Why are your retainer fees lower than other executive search firms?First, we're less expensive because our search process is faster and more predictable than many firms. In any project, delays are costly, so avoiding surprises significantly reduces costs.
What does it cost to engage your services?We believe in transparency, so we post our fees online. Just click on the word “Hiring” in the navigation bar at the top of the page. If your search need matches one of our common search profiles, you can find your answer there. If your search is not listed, just contact us for a price quote.
Can you project how long the search will take?Yes, the advantage of having a predictable hiring process is being able to answer questions like this simply, and without saying, "Well, it depends..." If your search fits neatly into one of our most common search profiles, you can find out how long it will take from your first meeting with us, until your job offer is accepted. It's posted right on our Hiring Made Simple page. Throw in two to four weeks so your new hire can give notice to their current employer, and you'll know their start date.
Who extends the job offer, Staffing Advisors or the hiring manager?Whichever you prefer. Many search firms like to be in control by extending the job offer, and we're happy to do that for you. But we prefer to step aside and give you (the hiring manager) the pleasure of beginning your relationship with your new employee by extending the job offer personally. (It's really fun to hear the excitement in their voice. Besides, you get to feel like Oprah, "YOU get a job, and YOU get a job, and YOU get a job!)
Who sends the rejection letters?We prefer to handle all the bad news, leaving the good news to the hiring manager.
What if the hire doesn’t work out?Even with the best hiring process in the world, sometimes people just don't work out in a job. Or sometimes you make a spectacular hire, and then they decide to move to Australia. We want you to be happy, so no matter what the circumstance, we offer an 18 month replacement guarantee on our placements. Just call us by the 547th day and tell us to do it over again.
What if I find someone on my own after we engage you? Can I get my money back?In a word, no. Once you have engaged our services, we are no longer in competition with you. We're working together with you on the same goal--finding the best possible candidates. If we contact 150 people on your behalf and tell them about your open job, and one of those people tells a friend, or reaches out to you directly via LinkedIn, was that someone we found for you, or someone you found?
Why do senior level searches cost more than junior level searches?Many search firms base their retainer fees on a percentage of the candidate's salary, but we price our searches based upon the difficulty of the search. (That's how we can post our prices on the website.) Although lower level searches can occasionally be more complex than senior searches, typically the more senior the level, the more expensive the search. There are a couple reasons for this:
What are a few good reasons not to engage Staffing Advisors?There are many situations when it would not make sense to engage us for a search:
What are a few good reasons to engage Staffing Advisors?You might choose to engage our services:
Why are you using such a data-driven process in a “people” business?Staffing is a very expensive professional service. Many organizations find it difficult to justify the cost of engaging a search firm. So in our first few years, we were looking for the most cost effective way to deliver the professional service without sacrificing any of the value. And because we operate on a flat, fixed-fee basis, in the early days we would lose money on about a third of our searches. First we’d do whatever it took to deliver the promised results to our client, and then we’d go back and try to figure out why we lost so much money.
Isn’t executive search just a big game of “Who do you Know?”Many people think of staffing as a relationship business, a game of making friends and collecting contacts. Every day you see press releases about a senior executive joining a prestigious executive search firm after a long and distinguished career in a particular industry. Those executives hope to leverage their vast network of contacts to help them be successful in recruiting. You can see this thinking in the bios posted on search firm websites, "Bob has deep expertise in the oil and gas industry, having spent 10 years at the helm of BigOil."
Recruiting Results Predictor
Where does the data come from? How can I trust it?It’s easy to verify the data for yourself. Just look at the result of any recent job ad you’ve run, and see if our "forecast" matches your actual experience. Did you receive a similar number of resumes to what we predicted? The other aspects of the forecast should be pretty intuitive for you. But if you are a data nerd like us, and really want to delve into the math and the theory behind the Recruiting Results Predictor, just click the learn more button below to read the white paper we wrote. LEARN MORE
Why did you create the Recruiting Results Predictor?Busy people want fast answers. You want information, and you don't want to wait for it. Ideally, you want to go online, get what you need, decide, and move on with your day. So before engaging with any professional services firm (like an executive search firm), clients always have a few preliminary questions. Everyone wants to know how long their project (search) will take, what it will cost, and how the promised result will compare with the result they could have achieved on their own.
I received fewer resumes than you predicted for me … why?Our projected number of resumes is drawn from the median, or midpoint of several different searches we’ve conducted recently. Your mileage may vary. In recruiting, strange things can happen, and often do. We find that our own response rate to advertising can vary by 50% or more depending on the title used, the location, the company, how interesting the ad copy is, the timing of the ad, and fifty other things. It’s not wise to recruit tax accountants during tax season, and you should not expect a terrific ad response when you post a dull job description.
Don’t other firms offer labor market analytics?There are some terrific labor market analytics out there. Of course, many of them are quite expensive and most of them are built for very large companies. We’re simply answering different questions than they are asking, and we serve a different audience. (We're all about the smaller organizations.)
Why don’t you display information for larger companies?Our data is drawn from our own experience, and our clients are mostly organizations with under 500 employees. It's not that we don't care about larger organizations, but .... well, let's face it. Smaller organizations are just more fun.
Why don’t you display data for more locations and positions?Stay tuned, we have quite a bit of data that we’ve not yet posted. We’re not posting any data until we’re convinced that it has predictive value, and that often means we need to embargo information until we can properly validate it.
In Step 1, why are you asking me about my available time?We’re not trying to be nosy. Effective recruiting requires a significant time commitment, and studies show that executive "discretionary time" is rarely more than 5-10 hours per week. In hiring, you must often make complex trade-offs about where to best spend your time, so we included that tradeoff in our calculations. You can read more about this in our Resource Center.
I don’t recall other executive search firms discussing the “Peer Group” concept. Where did that definition come from?Peer Group is simply a more precise definition for a very familiar recruiting concept. It might be easier to think of Peer Group as, "The people you actually want to interview." In recruiting, there are often a large number of people who would like to interview with you, but a much smaller number of people who the hiring manager actually wants to interview. In other words, there is a disconnect between the people who think they are qualified for a job, and the people the manager thinks are qualified.
In Step 2, where did the “Peer Group Factors” come from?In our search work, we methodically look at the “strikeout” factors that rule candidates out of consideration for a position. The factors vary with every search, but many of them fit within the five broad categories displayed in Step 2 of the Recruiting Results Predictor. Step 2 is intended to illustrate the concept of how the most common strikeout factors rapidly narrow the potential candidate pool. It is not intended to precisely fit your own situation.
In Step 3, where did the percentages come from?Our recruiting outreach strategies have always combined direct recruiting with job advertising, and we’ve methodically tracked our results from the very start. Consequently, we’re able to predict how different group of candidates will respond to advertising, and contrast that with their responsiveness to direct one to one recruiting. And (sigh) yes, Bob knows he’s a math nerd, but he’s also really grateful to his Algebra teacher at Lemoyne Junior High.
In Step 3, why do the toggles seem to dramatically reduce the effectiveness (reach) of advertising?If anything, we’re understating the impact of each factor. If the numbers surprise you, you probably missed a significant shift in candidate behavior with the wide adoption of smart phones and the ubiquity of Google for search. Bob didn't miss it; in fact he was interviewed on this very topic by SHRM in June of 2013. You can read the interview here.
In Step 3, why do you recommend 24 interviews? That seems excessive.Yup, it’s a lot of interviews. And as much as we’d prefer if it were lower (because it would mean we could do less work on our own searches), we’ve consistently found that our own odds of successfully completing a search are directly correlated to how many people we interview from within the target Peer Group. (For more about calculating odds, read this great article in the New York Times.) In analyzing hundreds of our own searches, across all the functional areas, in good and bad economic conditions, we’ve consistently seen that anything less than 24 interviews increased the risk of failure on a search. And we seriously do not like to fail. To gain a more thorough understanding of our exact calculations, click the learn more button. LEARN MORE
Aren't you worried that a competitor might copy the Recruiting Results Predictor?This is one of the first questions most people ask us, and we find it touching. Thanks for watching out for us everyone! (As we showed the prototypes to people early on, an astonishing number of people said, "Lawyer up." We took that as a sign we were probably on the right track.)
Recruiting Results Predictor DefinitionsEven if a few of our terms might be unfamiliar, most of the concepts should be familiar. We just needed to create some more precise language to convey the ideas accurately. (Don't worry, all the vocabulary quizzes will be open book, and everyone reading this post will get an automatic "A.")