Human Resources Consulting Veteran Rollie Waters Offers Advice on Choosing an Executive Search Firm

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Waters urges public-sector organizations to look beyond proposals and presentations.

Rollie O. Waters CMC President & Founder, The Waters Consulting Group Inc.

The experience of the York County Council in South Carolina is a reminder that when executive searches go wrong, time and money are lost.

An executive with decades of experience in compensation consulting and executive recruiting for public-sector organizations today urged those organizations to consider five success factors in choosing an executive search firm. He said that when executive searches fail to achieve the desired results, one or more of these factors is usually in play.

Rollie Waters, who has been widely published in human resources journals and authored several books, founded The Waters Consulting Group in 1988. The Dallas-based firm has placed hundreds of executive-level public sector employees. Recently it was hired to take over an executive search for a South Carolina county manager.

The experience of the York County Council in South Carolina is a reminder that when executive searches go wrong, time and money are lost. To avoid these kinds of problems it’s best to consider only those search firms that meet what I call criteria for success.” Waters listed five of these success factors:

1. Industry experience – A firm should have a track record in public-sector executive search that inspires confidence. Public-sector experience is the key here as well as the length of that track record.

2. Human resources expertise – Look for firms with people who have training and hands-on experience in human resources. Plenty of firms have people with experience in government, but that has to be paired with HR experience to achieve a quality result.

3. Scale – A search firm needs enough talented, experienced professionals in place to make certain the firm’s work is of the highest quality. Look for experienced consultants and effective methodologies for screening and assessment
of candidates.

4. Client references – Client lists on websites can be misleading. Firms should be willing to provide detailed, substantive references. They should include contact information and details about the work the search firm provided.

5. Technology – Does the firm embrace technology and employ it effectively? The best firms have large databases of applicants and track those applicants as they move forward in their careers. Another useful technology allows for the scoring and online delivery of virtual interviews.

“These five factors are vital considerations when it comes to choosing an executive search firm,” Waters said. “When they are present, public-sector organizations significantly raise their chances of a successful search.”

About The Waters Consulting Group

The Waters Consulting Group is a leader in compensation consulting and executive recruitment for public-sector organizations. It creates compensation programs that link cutting-edge pay systems to business objectives. Its recruitment services match the best candidates to organizations’ needs using state-of-the-art metrics and personality profiling. Founded in 1988, Waters also offers a suite of online human resource management solutions that help organizations audit and monitor the equity and competitiveness of their total compensation systems.

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