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Recruiting is an easy industry to get into, but not easy to be good at.  There are no barriers to entry, no real standardization, and everyone thinks they can do it.  A platypus is an odd animal, an apparent mix of several animals.  I would contend a really good executive search consultant is somewhat of a platypus.


  • Analytical…. able to assess organizational dynamics, critically interview and evaluate people. 


  • Salesman….have to be able to make a lot of contacts/calls, frame a message and communicate opportunities to people not necessarily looking for them.


  • Counselor/Facilitator…able to actively listen to multiple vantage points and artfully guide them through the process to closure. 


It is much more of an art and developed skill set than a paint-by-number exercise or process. 



In my 25 years of recruiting a lot has changed and not a lot has changed.

A-players are still the target market.  They were the least likely group to spend time reading help wanted ads then and are still the least likely group to spend time on job boards now.
Direct recruitment is still most effective method of reaching the very best potential candidates, for any position.  Even though we use a multi-faceted approach, phone based direct recruitment is the single best, most reliable and most interactive method of reaching and recruiting quality leaders.    It isn’t the easiest, isn’t the most glamourous, but is still the foundational method The Rottman Group employs. 
We do have a database of contacts, not candidates.  We believe candidate databases are misrepresented and not of much value in leadership recruitment.  With the multiplicity of dynamics, each search engagement is very unique.   It’s analogous to building a custom home vs. a set of apartments; we approach it as such.  There is no such thing as a “resume dump” with The Rottman Group.  Each candidate is specifically interviewed and evaluated relative to the specific issues and dynamics of your organization, its culture, and the position’s specific needs both in way of background and behavioral competencies.




People ask us about our search process.  Honestly, there is not much about the mechanical process you likely don’t know or haven’t been through before.  Instead, it is a understanding of the process and its dynamics and our depth of applicable competencies that set us apart.    



We “A.R.E.F” 4U


Absorb-who you are, the dynamics of the organization, the position’s historical, present, and future view.


Reflect-this directly to our target market of potential candidates. (While we use a multi-faceted strategy, direct phone based

recruiting is ALWAYS the foundational methodology utilized.)


Evaluate-those who are interested to ascertain who the best fits are for the position.


Facilitate-the process through on both sides to successful conclusion.


  • Engagement specifics

  • Assemble and organize information

  • Community information and profile

  • Write position overview

  • Research plan and assembly

  • Candidate sourcing and evaluation

  • Facilitation of Interview process

  • References and/or assessments

  • Offer presentation and counsel to conclusion  



Expectations and Accountability


Expectations and accountability: these are both things that there should be very open and clear communication about for a relationship to be successful and remain healthy. 


How long should I expect the search to take?  Our average search cycle, as most recently calculated, is 72.5 days.  This is measured from the time we “get the specs” to the time an offer is accepted. You could realistically expect that person to start 30 days after this time frame.  We would invite you to compare this to any other industry sources. 


How long does it take to start seeing candidates? Remember that your search; your organization, the specific issues/opportunities of the position, etc., are unique.  We approach each search as unique.  Thus we will not do a “resume dump” on you.  You should expect to see the first qualified candidate by the end of the 2nd to 3rd week of the search.  There are times this is quicker, there are times that it takes longer.  However, our commitment is not to dilute you with “filler” candidates.  You pay us to use your time most effectively.  


How many candidates will we get?  It only takes one to fill a position.  We have had several searches that have only had one candidate.  If we are doing our job, each person we send you is a fit.  It is realistic that you see 3-5 candidates from us for each search.  Again, if we are doing what you are paying us to do, it shouldn’t take more than that.  Having said that, we don’t quit until the search is complete.


What about accountability?  As a retained firm, The Rottman Group offers a unique performance guarantee:  If after 30 days from the receipt of the retainer, acting in good faith, feels The Rottman Group has not performed satisfactorily, The Rottman Group will refund the retainer and there will be no further obligation on the part of the client.  Don Rottman pioneered this guarantee while Vice President at Austin-McGregor International 23 years ago.  We have continued this and have only been asked to return a retainer once in that time frame and maintained a relationship with that client.


What am I responsible for as a client?  COMMUNICATION.  This is the paramount ingredient you supply as a client to make a search effective.  Timely, open communication.  We are very accessible.  If not reached immediately, we commit to respond to all client email or voicemail communications within 24 hours.  We don’t require a reciprocal commitment; you are the client.   Just understand that once we start, this is what you can best do to help this be a successful process.


Do we meet candidates in person before we present them to you?  We may be perceived as controversial here, but 90% of the time, we do not meet candidates in person prior to submitting them to you.  We have a fairly strong philosophical stance on this. We will do this if a client truly wants us to.  However, we have found that most will save both the precious time and expense of this. Thus, the deeper explanation:  


It is our belief this only wastes time and money, (your time and money) and does not add to the quality of the search.  We believe that our thorough interview process and referencing eliminates this need. There is also a secondary psychological reason for not doing this.  It is call the halo effect or fundamental attribution errors.  In essence, physical appearance and visual first impressions skew the objectivity of the interview.  By being honest about human nature, if a candidate comes to a personal interview and looks like the cover of GQ or Cosmopolitan magazine, there is the tendency to filter the rest of the interview in a way to be “screening in” the person, based on their physical appearance.  In contrast, if less than attractive person comes to the interview, there is a tendency to “screen out” that person.  It is human nature and a psycho/social reality.   Thus phone based interviews are actually more objective.  Also, this setting has a person in their own element, more comfortable, and thus a more true day-to-day interaction vs. interview anxiety that can come from face-to-face interviews.  There are some great people that just don’t do the face-to-face interview well.  


Why do other firms do this or insist on it?  I have talked to colleagues that do meet most or all candidates prior to submitting them to a client.  When most honest, the reasoning isn’t for the integrity of that specific search.  It is for future business/relationship development.  Knowing that only one candidate gets the job, the others just became new personal relationships, possibly new clients, that you just paid them to develop.  I don’t feel this is ethical. 




We are a retained firm.  We don’t apologize for this, it is the way that the most experienced and educated utilizers of executive level search choose to work.  They understand the operational and service differences of retained and contingency firms.  For that reason, they don’t want us to compromise and neither should you.  BUT, we are probably the most flexible and creative in the industry in developing variations for individual clients that best meet their needs and eliminate concerns they may have had about retained search.  (There is a place for contingency firms, just not at the leadership/executive level.)  Thus, don’t feel things here are set in stone.  We want to work with you.  Share your thoughts with us; we can work together to find a win-win way to frame our relationship.


  • Flat fees:  We typically work on a flat fee basis.  We believe this eliminates the possibilities of hidden agendas within this process, both in candidates we present as well as offer negotiations. We don’t want an external factor of our compensation to give any perception of clouded motivations.  We base this fee on the realistic salary range.  We will cap the fee so that it does not exceed 30% of the candidate’s base salary, but historically will fall in the 25-30% range.


  • No other overhead expenses:  It is a standard practice for firms to bill monthly for phone and other overhead expenses, usually equating to an additional 10% of the total fee.  We do not charge our clients for these expenses.


  • Travel expenses:  We offer to come to initially meet with you and other stakeholders at our expense. Though not truly necessary for the successful completion of the search, it is our experience that it enhances the success of the search, both in our ability to absorb your environment and the essences of the position, but also to reinforce your confidence in us.  Other pre-approved travel is reimbursed at cost by our clients.




We offer both a front-end service guarantee and a back-end service guarantees:


  • 30 day front-end performance guarantee:  If after 30 days from the receipt of the retainer, acting in good faith, feels The Rottman Group has not performed satisfactorily, The Rottman Group will refund the retainer and there will be no further obligation on the part of the client.  Don Rottman pioneered this guarantee while Vice President at Austin-McGregor International 10 years ago.  We have continued this and have only been asked to return a retainer once in that time frame.


  • 180 day back-end placement guarantee:  We will guarantee that if the candidate(s) placed by The Rottman Group terminates his/her employment within a period of 180 days of the start date, and if the termination is for any reason other than non-compliance with the terms of employment on the employers part, we will replace that individual at no cost to the client, other than out of pocket expenses. 

Expectations and Accountability
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