To Post or Not to Post Active Searches?

In the world of retained executive search, the accepted protocol is clear. Posting or socializing active search listings is a major no-no. Why? One perception is that it’s easier to post a search than to work one’s network…and therefore lazier. Another is that it skews toward active job seekers, rather than a broader, active and passive market.

Yet now, given the new prevalence of LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, the lines are blurring. For the first time, there’s a legitimate counter-argument to the traditional way of thinking.

For one thing, the population that uses LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook isn’t a population of job seekers. It’s a population of, well, everyone. LinkedIn can be a particular goldmine of happily employed candidates, ripe for the plucking.

So is it time for retained search firms to adopt a new protocol?

The Case in Favor of Posting Search Listings

Simply put, there’s nothing lazy or deficient about leveraging a social network to identify candidates. Search firms worth their salt will still solicit hundreds of responses, and cast their discerning eye on all of them.

Worse, closing the door to social networks might seal off crucial avenues. A few years ago, a search we posted on Facebook led us to a friend of mine, someone I hadn’t seen in 20 years. The winning candidate turned out to be a friend of a friend of a friend.

The Case Against Posting Search Listings

In the world of retained search, will there always be a stigma attached to posting your jobs online—whether on a job board or to a social network?

First, the search has to be non-confidential (unless you’re willing to post “blind”). Second, you could be wasting your time, and going through volumes of resumes that miss the mark completely. Third, sometimes, posting a search simply isn’t the right style—particularly for searches that call for added explanation, and therefore demand a one-to-one type approach.

What do you think? Please provide your viewpoint on whether search firms should post searches on social networks, job boards, and other forums.

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