What is search?

29 August 2018 Alex McDonald

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The term ‘search’ is used frequently to describe and differentiate firms in the recruitment industry, but what does that really mean for a business and candidate? Commonly referred to as recruiting or headhunting, search describes the process in which a business identifies, attracts and positions candidates for an opportunity.


Traditionally there are two models in which recruitment firms operate; search and agency:

Search – Represents the clients and are client focused.

Search firms assist in solving often complex commercial problems through the appropriate appointment of high calibre talent and engages with clients on an exclusive partnership. The focus is to understand the needs of the business, workforce pain points and amend the commercial concerns of the business through talent.  This is done through acknowledging active and passive talent through various channels, presenting a qualified short list of candidates that have been assessed against role specific criteria. Payment is made on retained milestones

Agency – Represents candidates and are candidate lead.

Agencies engage with clients on a contingent basis competing against other recruitment firms on the same role, traditionally presenting a high volume of primarily active talent for an opportunity. Payment is made on placement of the candidate and candidates are normally ‘floated’ for the opportunity across various organisations.  


Having spent a number of years working in Research within an Executive search setting, a true differentiator of a search firm is its ability to identify talent that a business can’t find or attract with their own internal resources. Search is most successful in identifying and attracting high calibre talent who aren’t actively looking for a role – ‘passive talent’ by questioning clients on role design, remuneration, structure and the Employee Brand Proposition (EVP).     


Noting the significant talent pain points within the aged care sector, Orchard has identified that utilising an executive search methodology in a traditionally agency dominated market, remedied a number of client issues:

  • Access to talent – It is noted that at any one time 15% of candidates within the aged care market are actively seeking a role. By utilising executive search methodology to attract candidates that aren’t actively looking for a role, the talent pool of candidates is immediately expanded to incorporate the other 85% of the market. We know that active talent are not always of the same calibre as passive talent.  
  • High churn – By partnering with aged care businesses and understanding their pain points and talent considerations, we are better positioned to identify and present opportunities to candidates to provide the best fit for both the client and candidate – this has lowered our client churn (30% below average).  
  • Assessment and selection – By engaging in an exclusive recruitment process we take time to understand the key commercial criteria to assess candidates against to ensure a fit for both the client and candidate. Thorough assessment and selection is based on key competencies derived from the job and we will typically only present a shortlist of three to four assessed candidates from a field of 15 or more applicants.
  • Confidentiality – Due to the well networked setting of the aged care sector, Orchard acts as an independent impartial business that maintains the privacy and confidentiality of clients and candidates at all times. This is reinforced in our advertising, only taking to job boards less than half of our roles.


Due to our ownership structure within our business, the majority of our contacts sit on Aged Care Boards and Executive positions. This greatly increases our sector knowledge and candidate knowledge as most candidates will have been employed by a close friend of the firm. The benefits of bringing a search methodology to the aged care industry is already beginning to yield results.  87% of the Orchard Talent Group search appointments to date had previously been failed appointment attempts. Leveraging our search methodology as a Derwent Executive entity saw the successful appointment across all of these roles last financial year.


What does that mean as a business?  

Offering a level of sophistication to the recruitment process, we use innovative methods to attract passive candidates in a sector that is becoming increasingly short in candidate options. By working exclusively, we understand the needs of the business and the role specifically whether it be clinical or corporate, and are best equipped to engage and assess talent for an organisation.


What does this mean as a candidate?

As a firm, we are long term oriented. Determining how to best assist you to navigate career success to obtain a positive outcome is what really excites me in my position. By understanding your goals and motivations such as location, salary, work life balance etc. we engage and encourage you to pursue opportunities that align with your key preferences.