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Our Research-Only Approach

I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail. Abraham Maslow, 1966

We recognise that a full executive search process isn’t always the right approach to take. When it comes to recruitment, organisations are often trapped between two extremes. They can either opt for a public advertisement, and trust to luck that the right people will see it, or they can deploy a full executive search, and incur significant costs. For junior appointments, an advert often works. For the most senior appointments, a full executive search is usually the right approach. But for mid-level roles we felt there should be another option available. Our research-only approach offers a cheaper, quicker alternative to a full executive search process. We still conduct a pro-active headhunt, and bring good candidates to the table. You then agree upon a shortlist who you want to interview, and take them forward to a successful appointment as you see fit. Put simply, this model consists of:

1. Presenting

2. Identifying

3. Attracting

4. Delivering 1

1. Presenting the Role We aim to promote both the role and your organisation to potential candidates in the best possible light. The first stage of any assignment will involve a full and thorough set of background conversations. Our aim is to make sure that we grasp every dimension of the brief. These initial conversations are vital as they allow us to anticipate how the role will be received and to tailor its presentation accordingly. For example, if the location of the role might be an issue, then we can help you to provide additional information for candidates that might help to assuage that concern.


In practice

The better briefed we are, the more persuasive we can be on your behalf in the marketplace.

A Deputy Headteacher or Bursar post can quickly become lost in the crowded pages of the TES.

We aim to communicate opportunities to candidates in a way that is accurate, nuanced, candid and persuasive.

A charity fundraising role can rapidly disappear amongst an avalanche of similar posts on the Guardian website.

Where necessary, we can also offer advice on the naming or exact positioning of the post, provide guidance in terms of appropriate salary grading, or alert you to any lack of consensus on certain points amongst the key stakeholders.

We can advise you on ways to stand out from the pack. Using a proactive search will also help to raise awareness of your position and to drive people towards the advertisement in greater numbers.

2. Identifying Targets We conduct truly creative and original research in order to find the best candidates, wherever they might be. It is easy to forget that there are actually two types of candidates.

ď Ź Active candidates are people who are energetically searching for their next move; they are scanning through publications and online job boards to find suitable opportunities.

ď Ź Passive candidates are people who are busily getting on with their current roles and not necessarily thinking about what comes next. One of the key benefits of a search process is that it helps you to tap into the passive candidate community.

We approach every search as a blank sheet of paper. Guided by the parameters our client has set, we seek out potential candidates through a mixture of original desk-based research, as well as the recommendations and advice of people from our own extensive networks. Our searches frequently require us to access people from every corner of the globe and we are used to working for clients who are rightfully demanding in their expectations of candidate diversity.

In practice Our University clients spend a lot of time thinking about talent. When it comes to appointing established research stars, they often know who to call. But what about the next generation? How do you access the Senior Lecturers, Readers, or Associate Professors that might be the 4* researchers of tomorrow?

We can help you to find these highpotential early-career academics, planting the seeds that will lead to success in both the next Research Excellence Framework and beyond.


Society’s experienced team couples in-depth sector knowledge with cross-cutting functional expertise. We are at home handling anything from individual appointments through to whole programmes of recruitment resulting from expansion or restructure. We like to work with organisations that make a positive impact on society, and we believe that careers should have purpose and meaning.



3. Attracting Applications We believe that an effective recruitment exercise should involve a significant element of persuasion and courtship. The strongest candidates often require warming up. They may have a variety of professional and personal concerns that they need to work through before deciding whether to apply. Answering their questions properly can require multiple conversations with a trusted intermediary. We can pick through potential problems on your behalf with attentiveness and precision, providing information, correcting misconceptions and offering reassurance as required until the candidate is thoroughly enthused.

This process of patient advocacy helps to generate a wider, higher calibre and more diverse field than an advertisement alone would typically deliver. The accessibility of our team also lends a personal touch to the candidate experience and makes the act of applying as easy as possible.

In practice Some of our not-for-profit clients are keen to inject added commerciality, particularly into their corporate services. They want to take a closer look at candidates with strong private sector backgrounds, but such individuals rarely apply for their vacancies. We have extensive commercial networks and can access a wide range of experienced candidates on your behalf. Crucially, we can also talk candidates through issues such as salary, culture and career prospects, that might otherwise prevent them from applying.


4. Delivering the Candidates We work hard to equip you with good candidates, and all the other prerequisites for making a strong appointment. Throughout the search phase we ensure that we are gathering information from candidates that will be useful to you later on. This includes clarifying their salaries, their notice periods, and their willingness to relocate. Once the search comes to an end, we will collate all the candidate CVs and supply these to you electronically. In most circumstances we will also conduct a preliminary sift of the candidates, grading them into rough categories depending upon our assessment of their suitability.

This non-binding impartial sift can be very useful when you come to make your shortlisting decisions, particularly if you are looking to benchmark internal candidates against external competition. Once you have decided who you wish to take forward, we will give you their contact details, so that they can be fixed for formal interviews. Society will then also take responsibility for turning down any unsuccessful applicants.

In practice A number of our clients are busy hospitality and leisure businesses. They live every day at a frenetic pace with multiple competing priorities. As a result, they often struggle to commit the time required in order to get the best results from their recruitment activities.

We can take away all the administrative headaches, so that the recruitment process becomes simple and straightforward. You just give us the brief, and then you can quickly fast-forward to interviewing your preferred candidates.


Values and Responsibility We believe that organisations can have a positive societal impact, and that careers should have purpose and meaning. As a team, we’ve given a lot of thought

We’re also committed to being a

We are active members of Business

to how we want to do business. It

responsible business. For us, this

in the Community and participate

boils down to five core values:

means that we don’t just want to

in many of their flagship campaigns

create profit; we also want to play our

and programmes, such as Give &

 Partnership

part in securing a fairer world and a

Gain Day and the Ready For Work

 Authenticity

more sustainable future.

scheme. We’re also careful and

 Integrity  Creativity  Diligence

selective about the clients we agree Society gives at least 10% of its annual profits to charity, partly through the charitable Society Foundation


to work for.

Costs and Timescales Typical costs for an assignment of this nature range from between £6,000 to £12,000.

Our fees are always agreed up-front,

more than one of the candidates we

Searches are usually spread out over

and invoiced in two equal instalments

introduce to you. This can make a

around four to six weeks, however

– one upon commencement and one

research-only process a really cost-

this can usually be shortened if

upon shortlisting.

effective way of building up a team.

necessary, and we are always happy

There’s no additional fee payable

If you ask us to administer a public

upon the appointment of your chosen

advertisement in parallel with the

Where a client is recruiting to more

candidate, and our fees don’t vary in

search, then candidates will be

than one role there can sometimes be

relation to salary levels. Furthermore,

directed to apply via our website.

efficiencies and economies of scale. We

there are no additional fees to pay in

Should you wish to, you will also able

are very comfortable running multiple

the event that you choose to appoint

to monitor applications in real time

appointments at the same time.

to agree timescales up-front.

via our online Client Portal.


T: +44 (0)207 935 4052 E: W: A:

Ariel House, 74a Charlotte Street, London W1T 4QJ


@societysearch /company/571709 /societysearch

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Our 'Research Only' Approach  

A brief overview of Society innovative research-only methodology.

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