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From time to time, I engage with companies with a critical vacancy to fill, who are firmly of the belief that they ‘know everyone’ in their industry, and that they have no need of any external support in identifying and securing a candidate for the role.

“We know everyone”, they say. To which I smile, because when someone says this, they probably ‘don’t know what they don’t know’.

Firstly, no market is static – people get promoted, fired, relocated, and hired all the time. Companies restructure (a lot), retrench, reorganise, and change.

Even when we conduct a talent mapping exercise which takes a thorough and comprehensive look at segments of a market or industry, we know that within six to nine months, this information will be out of date. And secondly, just because one ‘knows everyone’ does not mean that one will be able to approach and engage with ‘everyone’, nor (most importantly) secure anyone.

One can spend hours and hours meeting and greeting, having ‘informal’ coffee chats, lunches and dinners, and still not manage to secure an appointment. Hence my smile. After which I take a deep breath, and share with them some of the real value they can achieve when partnering with a search firm – even when they ‘know everyone’:

1. Gaining assurance as to whether, in fact, your market knowledge is as accurate as you believe it is. I am willing to bet with great confidence that a full market mapping exercise of your direct competitors will reveal new information, and ‘fresh blood’.

2. Finding out what other talent might be available by looking beyond the confines of your direct competitor market (or in Jack Hammer language – ‘looking beyond the obvious’).

3. Acquiring market information into diversity appointments, and package ranges in your industry.

4. Sourcing useful insights into your company’s market perception. If the sentiment is negative, this can be managed if you know what is being said about your organisation.

5. Gaining access to people who are not actively looking for a job, who would not want to engage directly with you for a range of reasons, and prefer to have the process handled and navigated by a professional intermediary.

6. Actually securing a candidate, after a thorough process of due diligence, screening, interviewing, verifications, package negotiations and counter-offer counselling. The stuff that you might not be particularly skilled with, even if you ‘know everyone’.

So, the next time you have a key role to fill, consider how you might do things differently, even when you believe that you’ve got the market covered.

Michelle Bedford-Shaw
Principal Consultant

Michelle Bedford-Shaw

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