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4 Must-Haves of a Quality Search Firm (If You Want the Top 20% of Candidates)

Posted by Eytan Ishai on 15 November 2017
4 Must-Haves of a Quality Search Firm (If You Want the Top 20% of Candidates)

Tax departments in need of a high-end tax professional may turn to a specialized search firm, hoping to tap into a valuable, knowledgeable, and well-connected resource.

The goal is simple: to identify a candidate that not only possesses the skill and experience to add value to the department, but is a cultural fit, and brings other important elements to the table.

We'll highlight four areas clients should be mindful of when choosing to work with an executive or specialized search firm.  

The Cream of the Crop

Top executive search firms won't simply forward you the latest job board applicant, or overwhelm you with hundreds of resumes with the instructions, 'pick'.

Knowledgeable, specialized search firms should prioritize quality over quantity. In the world of tax, 2 or 3 candidates is all it takes to match a client's requirements seamlessly if the search firm has done their due diligence.

For example, a search firm that's been hired by a client looking to add a corporate tax professional to their team isn't concerned with the firm's personal tax or commodity tax candidates they're seeking someone to fit a particular role, a particular niche in the department.

In our experience, your average job postings bring volume, but not quality; it's almost impossible to find an ideal fit amongst the homologous masses.

Instead, pinpoint searches and referral-based headhunting yields quality candidates that, in many cases, are passive, and may not be actively looking for a new opportunity. While this increases quality, it increases risk, too; there'll be counter-offers, turn downs, and other unexpected barriers. But, the executive search firm should keep clients in the loop throughout the recruitment process, ensuring neither side feels slighted by the other. The only way this is mitigated is with honesty on all sides, and a search firm with high integrity who prioritizes its clients first.


Filtering only quality candidates or ideal fits may take time, and most clients respect this - but speed will always be a subconscious factor. Who doesn't want to find that missing piece to their tax department puzzle in a timely fashion?

Some clients put a precedence on speed, and that priority is misguided. The ultimate question clients should ask themselves is, 'will the speed of the search produce the best final results?'

We've found many high-end, specialized Search firms will take the extra time needed to find the correct candidate the first time, rather than having to do it a second, or even a third time. In the long run, this may yield a shorter recruitment period and a higher-quality candidate.

Consultative Approach

Some recruiting firms will take a client's job description, and simply perform a word-matching search in their catalogue of resumes, and present their 'best candidates'.

That won't find the client's perfect fit, and that's especially true in the tax world.

A specialized search firm must dig deeper - and not just into a candidate's qualifications, but the client's needs as well. What is the client ultimately looking for? What is the gap that needs to be filled? Is that possible in the market? Or do requirements need to be adjusted?

These are just a few considerations an executive search firm can vet and consult on prior to investing themselves into a search. This ensures lower volume, but higher quality candidates, meaning less stress for the hiring manager in the long run. Take the time upfront to understand both sides!


Hopefully, a client is realistic with the expectations of their search firm of choice.

With respect to time, quality, honesty, and integrity, there should be plausible expectations as to what's in the market, how long the search will take, and so forth.

Even if a trail's gone cold, clients still appreciate search firms keeping them in the process, even if it's not a candidate presentation. Clients are more at ease - and may be willing to be more patient - if the search firm prove they're exhausting their time and resources for them. Detailing how many people have been reached out to, who they've contacted, who's interested, and who'll be interviewed, will temper expectations and keep clients comfortable with their executive search firm choice.

Foxwood Tax Search is unique from your average search firm we recognize the value of highly-specialized searches, using our Unique Process and consultative approach to find a perfect match for both client & candidate.

Foxwood Tax Search targets the top tax minds in the continent for our select clientele, comprising the largest tax departments in Canada and the United States. For high-end tax talent of every level Chief Tax Officers, VPs of Tax, Senior Tax Analysts, Tax Directors, and more - contact us today!

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Author: Eytan Ishai
Tags: Search Firms

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