This SHRM19 interview is with Shepherd Search Group, a consortium of many niche search firms. Below is a quick Q&A with David Gantshar, the President and CEO.
Who is Shepherd Search Group!? Tell us everything, just as you would someone approaching your booth and asking you this question at the 2019 SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition in Las Vegas.
Shepherd Search Group is a consortium of some of the most successful, niche recruitment brands found in our industry today. We currently operate twelve executive search & recruitment, interim staffing, RPO & HR solution firms serving over a dozen industries. Shepherd and/or our affiliates can be found in sixteen cities on three continents and we were named the 701st fastest growing, privately-held company in the USA by Inc Magazine (2017).
David, you have been the driving force behind the group’s expansion both globally, and into niche markets. What were your goals for Shepherd prior to this expansion?
Innovation, full transparency, loyalty, discretion, speed-to-market and the ability to move at a breakneck pace. We want to return an entrepreneur’s vision to human resources and staffing in general. My vision was a simple one. Our industry has not seen the consolidation so many others have. There is virtually no “barrier to entry” meaning anyone can hang a shingle and call themselves a “recruiter.” We would never tolerate this from our physicians or in lawyers so why do we tolerate it in our industry particularly when most business leaders will tell you the war for talent is the one item holding them back from being at the top of their game?
Let us in on the magic. What’s the recruiting and hiring process like at Shepherd? How do you utilize your own tech and processes to recruit the best talent?
I got into this business in 2001 after a successful corporate career. Since 2013 we have been growing organically as well as through acquisition. We look for undervalued search firms that are mismanaged and lacking direction. Shepherd takes these firms, we add a fantastic culture, a clear, systematic approach, the latest tools and technology and a dash of Tabasco. We’re looking for the Joe Thomas’ of the Cleveland Browns. Let’s be candid….there is some amazing talent that will never shine without the right organization - such as Joe - and there are some amazing organizations that will never shine without the right players. That’s where we come in. Shepherd has identified 65 different recruitment methods and we don’t claim to use the same process for every client. You have to know your audience and really understand their growth plans.
What are the biggest challenges companies face when looking for new talent? How do they overcome those challenges?
There are so many and more than ever before. Ignorance is #1! If I had $1.00 for every friend of mine that said, “You’re a headhunter. How can you make money with tools like LinkedIn out there?” I remember years ago people predicting the end of cash. We’ve had checks, credit cards, debit cards, gift cards, Western Union, Paypal, Square, Apple Pay and you know what…..cash is still king. Our business will never die. As long as there is a need for talent no bot, no tool and no social media experience will ever develop an algorithm that can beat a relationship. We hire people that love people and build relationships. I actually believe this “mess” we’ve created on the internet works in our favor. People don’t know how to choose today. It’s the 20 page menu at the restaurant with a lot of good options. People are not a commodity and it’s time we stopped trying to pretend our business is like so many others. So how do we overcome all of the tools coming our way? We’re the only search firm I know with an Innovation Department. This forces us to constantly be developing new products and assessing which tools will work best for our clients.
What have you learned in your experience that you wish more HR professionals and recruiters knew?
In my mind it’s ‘Back to the Basics.’ In one sentence, “Treat others as you wish to be treated.” Our HR professionals are out there conducting exit interviews and onboarding in an effort to solve the mysteries around recruitment and more importantly….retention. Well, how about this? We don’t lose our people at Shepherd. I can count on one hand the number of people that have left our organization so long as they had more than one year of experience in the business. Business leaders today are analytical, they are fortune seekers, they are dreamers but they rarely trust their gut. If we treat people as we want to be treated, we will sell more candidates on our organizations and ultimately we will retain those we wish to keep.
How important is company placement in employee retention?
Critical. I have nothing to add. Joe Thomas all over again.
For anyone who won’t be able to make it to the Shepherd booth in Las Vegas, what do you want them to know?
If you’re tired of the same old lines and saying the Rosary as you hire new candidates, let’s try something new. We already know the definition of insanity. Doing the same thing again and hoping for different results. If your methods aren’t working you owe it to yourself and your organization to let us drive your recruitment and your retention efforts. They go hand in hand. My team can bring you the best candidate in the world, but if your culture is lacking, it’s over before it began. We can fix that. Our greatest leaders were Shepherds….King David, Moses. We come from a long line of winners.