Recent Trends in Human Resource Management

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Oldest Executive Search Firm

The executive search business began in the United States in 1926 when Thorndike Deland launched a business that charged a $200 retainer to find expert buyers for New York department stores. However, it was not until after the second world war that executive search gathered speed as part of the rapidly growing management consultancy business. It soon became evident to search consultants at McKinsey and Booz Allen Hamilton that the service might best be provided as a separate business. McKinsy moved out of the executive search business in 1951.

McKinsey left the search sector in 1951. H. Wardwell Howell, head of the McKinsey search practice at that time, left to found Ward Howell, which became one of the biggest global search firms (until 1998 when its American division was acquired and the rest of the company rebranded itself as Signium). Handy Associates also broke away from McKinsey. Booz Allen Hamilton, which maintained its search activities until the late 1970s, groomed many of today’s top search consultants. Among firms launched by its former management consultants are Boyden (1946), Heidrick & Struggles (1953), Spencer Stuart (1956) and Amrop Hever (1967).


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Clients (companies seeking to hire) often tend to work with contingent search firms when filling mid-level positions. As contingent search firms generally rely heavily on their contacts, and seldom work on an exclusive basis, it is not rare for a client to work with a large number of contingent recruiters on the same search at the same time, in order to maximize the volume of candidate (job seeker) resumes they receive. Beyond the increased volume of candidates that such an approach allows, contingent firms do not get paid until the placement is made (a candidate is successfully hired), and thus the search risk is shifted almost entirely to the search firms. Moreover, contingent search firms often work with clients on Higher percentage fee basis, relative to retained and delimited search firms as they shoulder more risk.
Satisfying employers and candidates requires a delicate balance between seeking someone with teamwork skills – yet maintains their individuality.

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