Why Employers Use Executive Recruiters

One employer explains why he retains recruiters to find candidates.

“Recruiters are the first line of attack — almost a gatekeeper,” said Arthur Mandell, who has worked with executive recruiters to fill hundreds of positions during his 25-plus years in the commercial lending and equipment-leasing industry. Mandell said he tends to play a very active role in the recruiting process. He also leans on recruiters when evaluating job candidates. “I would ask them to find out more about certain points [in their job history], how they would benefit the business, or about things in their background I don’t understand,” explained Mandell, whose most recent post was as executive vice president and managing director of Equilease, a privately held equipment leasing and financing company.

Like many employers, Mandell’s main concern when hiring is that the candidate be able to execute ideas and bring results. To that end, he has frequently called on his recruiting partners to plumb the depths of a candidate’s work history. “I would say, ‘Do you know this guy? Were they successful or not at their last position?’ You try to get as much information as you can.”

Having also spent time as a job seeker, Mandell is sympathetic to candidates who resent recruiters who seem unwilling to espouse their application when their background isn’t an obvious fit. “Most recruiters are advocates for employers, so if an employer has said they want someone with 15 years of experience and someone comes along with the right experience over a different number of years, they’re not necessarily going to fight that battle.” And these days, he observed, with so many people in the applicant pool, companies are in the position to be even more choosy than in the past.

Mandell is currently working with recruiters on his own employment search, and his years of experience on the other end of the process have provided some useful insights. “Job seekers can blame recruiters for not being able to communicate the position requirements, but the burden is with the employer’s senior hiring manager and the degree to which he has shared his vision with the recruiter,” Mandell told Ladders. “Sometimes the recruiter is just the messenger.”