Updated: Oct 14, 2019
Western company executives – sometimes at a great distance from China - often don't realize how the very structure of search firms in China works against the interests of the overseas client.
Sure, this arrangement can work fine for a mid-level search. But it breaks down fast when you need to hire the people who will lead your China operations.
Here's what I'm referring to... Search firms here, and in many other places, scale by separating Sales (bringing you in as a client) from Research (the actual guts of the Search). This is a good arrangement for the search firm as it allows for the handling of greater volumes of business. It is not a good structure if you are the client.
The search firm’s front-man (Sales), with whom you discuss your requirements and sign terms, makes you certain promises about timing, quality, process, candidates, and guarantees - which are then fulfilled by someone (Research) you never see or hear about - younger, less experienced, never been out of China, and for whom this may be their first job.
Not a clue about what happens in a business. The various functions. How to have an adult conversation with a top executive.
In too many instances, this structure, and its attendant process, makes it very unlikely you'll be interviewing the caliber of candidates you actually should.
What's more, there is no effective mid-stream corrective. Once you are committed to a search firm, you have no real recourse. You discover belatedly that you have become a small, unwitting factor in the search firm's volume business equation.
Does this sound like your experience? Are you in search of a better way?
Because there is a better way...
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