A large network doesn't mean a great hire.
One of the key selling points of most recruiters is the size of their network. If you're looking for help hiring key roles, prospective recruiters will attempt to dazzle you with how large and experienced their network is.
The assertion is that with this person’s unique network, not only will already know of an excellent candidate for you, but they will also be able to provide you with people no one else will, as though a superstar VP of Sales is hiding in the shadows without a Linkedin profile or any social media.
What does a recruiter mean when they say they have a large network?
It means they’ve interacted with lots of people and because of that, they can more easily have a conversation with those people and convince them your opportunity is an opportunity for them.
Dunbar’s number suggests that a human being can maintain, 150 social relationships. and a more recent study by Jan de Ruiter suggested that Dunbar's number ignored the cultural mechanisms, practices and social structures that we’ve developed to counter these physical limitations. The number is therefore larger.
Let’s assume that the recruiter in question is incredibly gifted and can maintain 1,000 relationships.
Let's also assume that an active relationship means one conversation per year,
To have a 1,000-person network, the recruiter would need to have four conversations per day with their candidate network just to stay relevant! This is on top of their personal relationships, their client relationships and their colleague relationships - not to mention the other work they need to be doing.
Even with this supernormal personal network, this is just 1,000 people. In the United States alone, there are almost 50,000 CEOs and a quarter of a million C-Suite members.
And so the recruiter with 1,000 active relationships knows just 1% of the total number of candidates that could take your company from good to great.
Clearly, there are exceptions. If you recruit for a particular niche, it may be that there are only a few hundred people worth knowing and in this case, the network does have an advantage. However, even for this example, a candidate is not going to say no to an amazing career move because it came from someone new.
What ‘networks’ really mean
Let’s be frank. No one has an active relationship with every relevant professional. No one has an active relationship with even 10% of relevant professionals.
To compound things, careers aren’t stagnant. Every year, a new set of candidates becomes eligible and some existing ones become ineligible.
When you hear the word ‘network’, what you’re really being told is that the consultant will focus on the small number of people that they both know and are available. This might mean that the right candidate isn't even considered.
Helping you find the best person
At Berg, we favour finding the right person for the job, wherever they may be. We research your industry thoroughly, and we spend hours assessing candidates to ensure they aren’t just going to get a first interview with you, they’ll get a second also.
We will ensure that the people we find aren’t just convenient for us, but they fit your needs, values and mission because it's our mission to take your business from good to great (not our bank balance)