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Keeping Logs and Records of an Executive Search

At most major executive search firms, people use computerized systems, but many people at smaller firms still use manual systems such as the old-fashioned call sheets (also called contact sheets). The main objective with any system is that you record the information that you need and make the system work in the best possible manner. If you use the manual method as the log, you need to make sure that you use the same kind of call sheet for everyone. It is also of great importance that you only have one contact (person) for each call sheet. You then need to organize every contact sheet alphabetically. All contact sheets should remain in a binder assigned to the particular search.

The advantages with a manual system are that you do not need a computer, and that it is easy to use when you get many incoming calls. The drawback, however, is that you often duplicate your efforts when you later conduct a similar search. If you have engaged an executive search firm that does not have a good centralized computer system, it could be difficult to obtain an update on the search without having to go through their researcher.

Manual logs usually create double work (first handwriting and then typing), which has an adverse effect on productivity and speed. But, if you are recruiting on behalf of your own company you should not have to invest in costly software and computers in order to be successful in recruitment. You will get far with even a manual system, which is also easy to use.

Keeping computerized logs

The computerized log is a more up-to-the-minute way of recording information during the search. With electronic systems it is harder to lose information. Dependency on specific people being involved in the process is also greatly reduced. For example, a dysfunctioning person or link can possibly be replaced because all the information relating to the search is stored in a central system. This is of great importance if you are the client of an executive search firm, because there is no need for you to have to hear about a dysfunctioning process or a personnel situation at the search firm. But, as the rule goes for any information system, everyone must use it, or the purpose is lost. The same goes for people entering wrong or unnecessary information; as the saying goes, "garbage in, garbage out."

In order for an electronic system to work well, certain guidelines must be followed:
  1. Only people pertaining to the search should be stored (attached to a particular search).

  2. The person who enters the data must put the individuals in their correct boxes; that is, according to function, position, geographic location, and so forth. Otherwise, it will be impossible to search for people with a particular profile later.

  3. Everybody involved in the process should enter information, as it occurs, including changes of the appropriate coding

  4. The system must have a logger who automatically sets the time and date when comments are recorded, along with the initials of the person who recorded the information.

  5. The system must be easy to use, in terms of both storing and retrieving information.

  6. The system must provide easy access to information (using the Internet, open databases, etc.).

  7. The system must provide direct integration with other office tools (word processors, spreadsheets, etc.).

  8. Information must be deliverable directly from the central system (fax automation, electronic mail) to the user.
If the guidelines are followed, the ones conducting the search will have a helpful tool when tracking down the very best candidates in the marketplace. The following advantages will be achieved:
  • A speedy search process, including quick initiation of the search
  • Immediate status reports on the search process
  • Tight organization of all remarks and comments made by sources, prospects, and candidates
  • Professional follow-up of sources, prospects, and candidates
  • Direct access to the search information, independent of other people, or time and place A Automation of written status reports
Strategies to Maintain During the Search

The resumes of interested candidates should be arranged alphabetically by name in a folder or binder for the particular search (or if you have the capability, scanned into the computer system and filed there), while the search is being conducted.

As this folder is the heart of the search, it is of great importance that there is only one candidate search folder for each search. It is also very important that all original paperwork (resumes) stays in the folder. If someone wants a candidate's paperwork, he or she must make a copy (or print one, if the resume is in the computer).

The best binder to use is one that is alphabetized so you can enter people according to their last names. Also, be sure to mark (code) all the candidates who have a fit, and those who decline, so you can quickly separate the two groups. On the top of the front of the folder, you need to make a sticker with the following information:
  • Search number and client name (company)
  • Title of position
The search folder works as a control tool, indicating whether you have done your job. If you do not have any candidates in the search folder, you need to work harder. If you still have candidates in the folder long after the search, it means that you have not closed out people and followed them up as you were supposed to.

Things to Do after the Search

After the search has been successfully completed, the candidate's background should go to one of three different places:
  1. CND file. All the candidates who become final candidates should be alphabetically organized with appraisal, reference report, and all other paperwork in a special drawer or cabinet for candidates (CNDs). These candidates are considered to be the most important ones, except for the placement. Because they have gotten so far in the process to become finalists, they are usually excellent candidates. Their personalities and skill sets might be perfect for a subsequent search. In addition, these people could become excellent sources for future searches, if you maintain a good relationship with them. After all, you basically gave them an opportunity to improve their lives by inviting them to participate in the search process.

  2. General filing cabinet. Potential candidates who have an interesting background, but did not become CNDs, should be filed according to industry (alphabetically) in the general filing cabinet. When filing resumes, it is important to mark each with that person's industry and function group. For a filing system to work well it cannot be too detailed. Most leading executive search firms have created categories that have been based on the SIC codes.

  3. Waste basket. Resumes of people who did not become CNDs and who do not have an interesting background should be thrown away.
Create a Company File

The company file includes organizational charts, lists of names and published company research, including directories, annual reports, and so forth. The purpose for creating this file is that you might need this information at a later point if you need to look into these companies again. A separate set of industry and function list should be maintained so you can find information according to topic.