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America's Best Recruiting Firms 2018

The hiring process is rarely simple, whether you’re scouring the job market for your next employer or your next employee. Seventy-six percent of hiring managers admit attracting top talent is their greatest challenge, one that costs organizations an average 23.8 days and $4,129 per hire. Enlisting the services of a recruiting firm can streamline the search, but how are companies to know which agencies are best equipped to help them win the talent war?

Forbes has teamed up with market research company Statista to answer that very question by producing, for the second year, our annual ranking of America’s best recruiting firms. The list is divided into two categories: one for the top 250 executive search firms specialized in filling positions with salaries of at least $100,000 and another for the top 250 professional search firms focused on placing positions with salaries of less than $100,000.

To determine the best recruiting firms, Statista surveyed 30,000 recruiters and 4,500 job candidates and human resources managers who had worked with recruitment agencies over the last three years. Respondents were asked to nominate up to 10 recruiting firms in the executive and professional search categories. Firms could not nominate themselves; last year’s findings were considered. More than 14,500 nominations were collected, and firms with the most recommendations ranked highest.

Dominating this year’s ranking is Los Angeles-based Korn Ferry. A partner to 93% of Fortune 100 companies, the firm’s executive and professional search divisions secured the No. 1 spots on both lists. At a time when online job listings allow candidates to flood the applicant pool, making it more challenging than ever before for hiring managers to identify the right talent, Korn Ferry CEO Gary Burnison attributes his company’s success to its effective use of intellectual property. “We’ve anchored the firm in research and IT,” he says. “We can go into a function and say, ‘This is what a great CEO looks like’ or ‘This is what a great marketing professional looks like’ based on our insights.”

Data-driven recruiting seems to be the driving force behind many of this year’s top-ranked firms, including the Atlanta-based Lucas Group. Ranked sixth for executive search and third for professional search, the recruiting agency pairs nearly 50 years of job-market experience with a proprietary candidate-tracking system so that it can serve small businesses and Fortune 100 companies alike. The technology, says senior managing partner David Armendariz, allows the company to maintain relationships with every professional it’s ever worked with. That way, whenever a candidate is ready to make a career change, Lucas Group is the first to know. And yet, he believes the technology isn’t actually what gives the firm its true edge. “The database is great,” he says, but it’s the firm’s people who are “the only reason we’ve been as successful as we have . . . We nurture relationships and help clients in ways other firms can’t.”

Relationships are also key to the strategy at MRINetwork, says general manager Nancy Halverson. Recruiters at the Philadelphia-based firm—ranked 10th for executive search and seventh for professional search—learn both the career and personal aspirations of their candidates to best match them with clients, most commonly small and midsize businesses. “The best recruiters have life-long relationships with candidates and customers. It’s not uncommon for a superstar recruiter to follow a candidate through their entire career,” says Halverson. “It’s not a transactional business.”

No matter the strategy, the goal for America’s best recruiting firms is always the same: to find a fit. “A company, like a candidate, is very much concerned about a culture fit,” says Burnison. “We’ve moved our business from finding candidates to finding out who candidates are.”

Author: Vicky Valet

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