Why Use Search

For some time, research and targeted search has been a mainstay of Sheffield’s recruitment projects. Head of Research for the broader Sheffield/Farrow Jamieson Group, Tania Macdonald, puts this down to the fact that top candidates are increasingly hard to find and often difficult to attract because they are very secure in their current role.

‘Advertising on Seek and via LinkedIn does not capture all of our potential audience, so when people are not actively looking, you need to have a more targeted, direct approach,’ says Tania.

As a result, most recruitment projects require a combination of advertising and search, mining into Sheffield’s national executive database, one of the country’s largest, as well as identifying executive talent both nationally and globally through LinkedIn and other industry specific searches.

While it may seem like trying to find the proverbial needle in the haystack, the results speak for themselves with an average of 81% of research applicants making it to the longlist interview stage, and of these an average of 67% making it to the shortlist stage.

‘When people are not actively looking, our job is to plant the seed. Our personal approach means once research applicants apply, the candidate pool is enhanced considerably, and our clients know they are able to compare and appoint the best in the field.’

Search can focus on:

  • industry and sub sectors within that industry
  • similar employers
  • comparable roles, skills and key competencies
  • the competitor market
  • candidates both in New Zealand and offshore.


70% of executive appointments by General Manager Louise Green, over the last six months, have been research candidates

‘Search is most effective when we are very clear on not just the skills and experience needed for the role but also more unusual factors, which can be wide ranging, such as proven experience delivering projects in polar regions, and we can really refine our search parameters to find and attract the ideal candidate,’ says Tania.

Sheffield also makes use of its extensive network of contacts to enhance the search approach. Our ‘sources’ are well connected within their sector and can recommend and endorse proven high performers.

For Tania, Sheffield’s success comes down to two factors, ‘Confidentiality and candidness are key when we make our approaches. As an independent party, we can really probe to identify any potential barriers to people applying and to drill down into people’s motivations and what would attract them to make the move. This market intel is absolute gold for our clients and can actually change a recruitment outcome.

‘I remember one project where our client had not managed to find a suitable candidate, despite having advertised the opportunity a couple of times. Through a search only process, we identified a key barrier to quality applicants applying for the role, being the distance and consequent cost to commute. We went back to the client to ask if it was feasible to include a company vehicle in the package, and they agreed. We consequently increased our shortlist by four research candidates and the client ended up appointing two people, rather than the original one they were seeking,’ says Tania.

With dedicated research professionals in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch and an extensive national executive database Sheffield is New Zealand’s only fully integrated national search firm. And with more than 50% of appointments sourced through direct approach for the calendar year, the days of relying solely on online media and hoping for a good response from advertising are well behind us.

If you have a hard to fill role requiring research contact Tania Macdonald

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