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How Long Does a Search Take?

The most common question clients ask the recruiters at Sterling Martin Associates is: “How long does a search take?” Susan Scott, Senior Executive Recruiter, shares the search approach she and her colleagues at Sterling Martin Associates use to make even the most specialized search efficient and successful. Here are the insights Susan shared:

Susan Scott, Senior Executive RecruiterWhen people ask me how long a search takes, I rephrase the question to: ‘How long should a search take?’ In my opinion, a thorough, efficient search should take three to four months,” Scott says. “In highly specialized situations they can take up to six months, but at Sterling Martin that is truly rare. At previous search firms where I’ve worked, I’ve seen searches stretch on months longer than they should – 10 months to a year — and even end in failure. With David’s approach, that doesn’t happen. We do things differently, and the results speak for themselves.”

What makes a Sterling Martin search thorough and efficient?

Sterling Martin recruiters determine the selection committee’s must-haves at the beginning. “If you’ve heard the expression ‘measure twice, cut once,’ we use the same approach at Sterling Martin,” says Scott. “We put in the time to deeply understand the organization and its needs – before the search is launched. This prevents us from wasting everybody’s time later. Determining and sharing the key criteria for the search gets everyone focused and on the same page right away.”

Sterling Martin recruiters set defined interview dates. “This is rare, and it’s a great approach. Setting a specific timeline promotes momentum and a feeling there is hope and light at the end of the hiring tunnel,” Scott says. “Presenting fully vetted candidates with one set of interviews at a defined end — I think it must have a good psychological impact on the search committee, because it has a good impact on us, and the candidates.”

Sterling Martin recruiters cast a wide net. “David has connections with a truly staggering number of professionals working in the association field and he’s a mentor to so many people,” says Scott. “In building these networks, he’s been really committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion here, and finding diverse candidates. Diversity doesn’t just happen passively. You have to be really proactive about it. We know just where to look and who to call, right from go.”

“I also think David does a good job of helping selection committees see the fungible or transferable skills. You can always look for a unicorn or purple squirrel, but if you clearly define and look for those “must have” qualifications and traits upfront, it opens the door wider to great candidates.”

Is your company or organization planning a search? Our experienced recruiters can tell you exactly what to expect when your organization needs new leadership.  Email [email protected] to speak with one of our recruiters.