How We Work

Our Fee Structure vs Traditional Firms’ Fees

Written By Stephen Cornwell

The traditional headhunting fee structure is ⅓ up front, ⅓ for initial candidates, and the final ⅓ when a candidate is placed.  With this system, companies can earn ⅔ of the total possible profit without even placing a candidate.  The company’s motivation to continue searching to find the perfect candidate is greatly reduced.  If the initial selection of candidates is not what you had in mind, the company can claim they have exhausted the market, leaving you with the position unfilled despite a significant financial investment.

In contrast, Accelerate only charges a fee when a candidate is successfully placed.  Not only does this ensure that the client is not taking any risk, but it also fully aligns the interest of our firm with our client’s interest.  We are just as passionate about filling each opening as the company is.  This alignment of interest fosters the close relationship we develop with each client.  

After interviewing initial candidates, our clients often identify new criteria that they need the successful applicant to meet. We are then able to refine and better focus our search.  We continue this process of feedback, communication, and refinement until we finally find the perfect fit for the position.

Additionally, we guarantee to replace any candidate who leaves within 12 months, creating a truly zero risk situation for our client.  If this sounds appealing, please contact us.

Can a Robot Find You a Job?

Written By Fritz Hillegas

In the modernity of the world we live in today, where companies want to drive down costs, and where people are competing not only with an increasing number of other people, but also with technology, the future can seem worrying. Even within the realm of the headhunting industry, automatization seems like a real threat to recruitment jobs in the future. However, this kind of technology is precisely why boutique executive recruitment firms, such as Accelerate, are so important (1).

Individual Focus, and Relational Understanding

Executive recruitment is an industry that relies heavily on cultural, linguistic and social factors in order to operate properly. One of the most important functions of a search firm starts with the initial fielding of candidates. Candidates are individually selected through a careful screening process to ensure that they not only have the necessary skills on paper, but also are able to demonstrate and explain those skills in person (2). Once a list of candidates is selected from the initial search, the next important function of the executive recruitment firm becomes clear.

The Needs of the Candidate and the Client

There is an important preparation process that takes place before any interview takes place between a potential candidate and a company. A successful recruiter will be able to have a conversation with a candidate about their skills and experience to make sure they’re what the company is looking for, while at the same time are making sure the candidate is interested and excited about the position. Additionally, candidates should be prepared so that they know how to best present themselves to the potential employer. A recruitment firm knows what the client is looking for and knows the candidate’s strengths—therefore the firm will help the candidate to stand out above the rest. A computer with even the most advanced software can in no way give the individualized attention required to both the client and the candidate nor can it perform the complex social processes required to understand their needs and wants.

Executive Recruitment and the Future of Our Business

Are we worried about the future of technology? No. But, we’re here to ensure that you’re best prepared to tackle the job market of the future, and that our clients will continue to receive top notch talent.




Why the Successful Executive Recruiters Dismiss the Big Data Craze

Written By Andrew Slade

Within the past decade we’ve witnessed the business world develop an infatuation for “big data” – large data sets that may be analyzed to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interactions. And the appeal for big data is certainly justified. It provides businesses and investors with a means to discover consumer trends that might otherwise go unforeseen. Big data can even detect fraud and fuel self-optimizing artificial intelligence.

As it applies to executive recruitment, one would think big data could reveal a multitude of useful trends and patterns: clients’ hiring preferences, more defined market maps, and optimal candidate-acquisition practices within a given industry. And let me tell you: the first search firm able to identify the best candidates for a given client using only market data, algorithms, and databases will rule the executive search industry. But until we are able to quantify the unquantifiable, this is a far fetched dream. So as it pertains to the executive search industry, big data is best regarded as just digits on a screen…and here’s why.

Logistics. When our clients brief us with a job opening to fill, they don’t request a candidate with a specific age, degree, or salary. Very rarely are the required qualifications quantitative. Our clients want candidates with very specific industry experiences and stand-out qualities. They want candidates that demonstrate skills like decision-making, communication, and leadership; and that’s not necessarily the candidate with the most years of experience or highest net earnings. It just so happens that LinkedIn attempts to quantify these skills with their endorsements feature: the number of endorsements being proportional to the degree of skill. However, given that the LinkedIn endorsement process requires nothing less than one click of the mouse, any good headhunter will disregard them.

True leadership cannot be quantified. Headhunters will sometimes use hard numbers like salary, years of experience, and number of direct reports to try to get a better idea of a candidate’s leadership abilities. And while this information is certainly relevant, one’s true leadership capabilities are most often defined by his or her judgment and gut instinct, especially at the C-level. That’s why we carefully screen candidates to ensure that they are not only qualified for the role, but also demonstrate a high degree of competency necessary to succeed with our client.

Personal Connections. A search firm’s greatest asset is its networked connections. While we want to find the best candidates for our clients, we also want to make sure that the opportunity is the best career option for the candidate. Rather than matchmaking candidates via an algorithm or database, we individually assess potential candidates as we go – building our network with every search.

Why the Best Recruiters Save You Money

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Written By Andrew Slade

When you’re trying to balance your regular work with reviewing applications, interviewing, and hiring, all by yourself, it’s no surprise that important matters get pushed aside. So why wouldn’t you work with a recruiter and save yourself the time and trouble? Because it’s too expensive and more cost-effective to do it yourself... right? Wrong. Recruitment firms are actually an extremely valuable asset for many employers and make up a $35-billion-dollar industry. They specialize in maximizing their clients’ hiring efficiency while cutting down costs. If you’re still not convinced, here are 3 reasons why partnering with expert recruiters is a smart investment:

1. It saves you time

Everyone knows the oldest business saying of them all: “time is money.” And that is exactly why you cannot afford to not hire a recruiter. Think about everything that the search process actually requires: drafting up a job description, finding the right industry channels to distribute it among and advertise in, sifting through CVs, screening and interviewing candidates, and sorting through hundreds of emails and dealing with the many other time-consuming tasks involved in the recruiting process… all the while unsure if you have found a suitable candidate. By outsourcing all of this work to professionals who specialize in swift, effective recruitment, you can not only fill the role more quickly—giving the new employee a head start on their new job and saving the company money—but you can also maintain progress on your own job responsibilities in order to reach company goals and objectives.

2. Gain access to hard-to-find, top-quality talent

More often than not, the best candidates for a role are those not actively looking. The best recruiters will constantly have their their fingers twirling in the pools of various professional networks so that they always know who the best candidates are and how to effectively approach them. Please remember, recruiting is their profession! Not only will they have access to top-quality talent, but they’re experts in selling these new career opportunities to high caliber candidates.

3. Avoid costly mistakes

Outsourcing the hiring process to expert recruiters, rather than handling everything internally, will almost always result in a more qualified candidate in a shorter period of time. But let’s say you have no other option but to fill the role on your own. According to Oxford Economics, it takes almost 28 weeks for a new employee reach his or her full potential. And with the average cost of replacing an employee estimated to be $40,000, finding out that your candidate is a poor fit 10 weeks after filling the role—causing you to repeat the search—could result in crippling and unnecessary losses.

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Leveraging Today’s Technology to Improve the Recruitment Process


Written By Andrew Slade

In an age of rapid technological advances, nearly every industry has seen major transformations. It’s no surprise that this has been the case for the executive recruitment industry too; no longer are the days of advertising job openings in newspapers! Only the best executive search firms are able to utilize digital advancements and constantly improve their operational processes, and when it comes to the recruitment process, there are two steps that have been particularly affected by technological advancements.

Sourcing. Our primary role as an Executive Search Firm is to identify future talent for our clients and ensure that we find the very best candidates for our clients’ job openings. In previous years, search firms had been mapping talent through good ole fashioned networking. And while this approach is sometimes still useful, our ability to utilize digital resources such as LinkedIn, social media, and website postings has allowed us to more affectively access high caliber, passive candidates. Passive candidates are those not necessarily looking for new opportunities, and are usually successful at their current position. These are the candidates that all search firms aim to identify.

Interviewing. The digital age has also heavily impacted the interview process, making to face-to-face interviews a thing of the past. And while digital tools may never completely replace human to human interactions, only the successful firms will be able to stay on top of technological trends and adapt with the times to remain competitive. The competitive search firms have found ways to minimize the opportunity cost for candidates, and this begins with limiting the time commitment required to explore other opportunities. By using tools like Skype, FaceTime and, most obviously, the phone, we are able to more effectively attract and screen higher-caliber candidates.

Despite these changes in the recruitment process, our overall objective has remained the same: find the very best candidates for our clients’ job openings. And while technological advances have made our objectives more easily obtainable, it has also had major benefits for our clients. We now operate on a contingency basis; if we don’t fill a position, we do not fee our clients. So in short, technology has helped progress the foundations of the recruitment process to provide better services and deliver top talent to our clients.

Why Moving Away From the Big Names Makes Sense

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Written by Andrew Slade

What are the advantages of a boutique search firm, and why are so many large companies choosing to partner with them over the more traditional executive search firms?

Compared to large search firms, we work with fewer clients and only engage on searches we can realistically fill. Large companies are starting to realize that the most important part in choosing an executive search partner is the people actually doing the search rather than just the firm name behind them. Our greatest advantage is our small team, comprised of elite recruiters with many years of dedicated experience. We deal directly with both clients and candidates, rather than relying on entry level recruiters conducting the search through a data base. This way, our team is able to effectively build strong relationships and actively source passive talent (those not necessarily looking to change roles) in order to find our clients the best candidates in the market.

Additionally, we are able to place top-quality candidates much faster than traditional retainer firms. We can more easily prioritize our clients and allow them to communicate directly with our recruiters in order to find the right candidate for their specific needs. This approach has generated a 100% retention rate on all of our placements.

And while most big name search firms charge a minimum retainer fee with a 33% fee on first year compensation, most boutique search firms operate on a contingency basis. For example, we only charge our clients if we successfully fill the position we are assigned to.

Our business is founded on strong relationships that reflect our boutique approach to recruitment. Our goal is to create valuable partnerships and to uphold our reputation of excellence based upon customer satisfaction, which ultimately contributes to the success of everyone involved.

Ageism in Recruitment

Written by Orla Treacy

Why is somebody's age such an important filter for so many companies?

Our clients will regularly tell us that they don't want to see candidates over a certain age. I recently had a client specifically tell me that she didn't want to see any candidates over 35 because the General Manager of their company was 42 and wanted "a young team". Frankly speaking, I don't think it makes any sense to discriminate against candidates' age.

I proactively conducted a survey of 20 candidates I placed in a variety of companies between 2010 and 2013 and checked whether or not they were still in the same position or same organization. The majority were not in either. Therefore, this eliminates the "lack of runway" criterion imposed by clients. If I place a 32 year old in a role for 5 years and they add value and then move along to a new company or I place a 52 year old in a role for 5 years and they do the same thing, what's the difference? Why would an organization hire one over the other simply based upon their age? This needs to change as the policy, so frequently applied, does not benefit anybody. How many talented and very experienced candidates suffer when looking for a career move because of their age?

I would like to influence the age criterion filter, also know as ageism, in the recruitment industry and make people aware of the fact that career paths change direction so frequently nowadays that the idea of somebody joining a company for the rest of their lives is outdated.

Managing a Global Business

By Nancy Wu

Our world is becoming ever more connected, and geographic boundaries are starting to matter less for businesses in every industry. Here at Accelerate, we are constantly in contact with clients and candidates around the world, even though we operate from our base offices in Ireland and Argentina. This can pose some difficult challenges that are often hard to anticipate, from managing business across different time zones to understanding cultural nuances. 

Managing time zones

Scheduling globally can be a challenge. For example, normal business operating hours in Buenos Aires means that our clients in Asia are probably fast asleep. The 12-hour difference requires us to be more flexible and generous in our scheduling. Taking calls after hours is common, and for our business, it’s a necessary adjustment to be able to access our Asia-based clients and candidates. Tools like Google Calendar, the iOS world clock, and Every Time Zone (link) can be tremendously helpful.

Talking money

This is a relatively small detail that can lead to unnecessary misunderstanding and embarrassment. When working with clients in other locations, it’s important to specify what currency you want to work in. The client may automatically assume that they should pay you in their own local currency, unless you specify differently. For recruiters, it is especially important to clarify the currency when talking about salary details.

Get online

Put your business on every possible platform online. Different platforms are popular in different countries, and since the Internet is a given around the globe, it will make your business much easier to find for your customers abroad. Plus, the more reach your business has across different platforms, the more legitimate and established it will look to potential clients.

Cultural nuances

When the client is not from an English-speaking country, it’s necessary to take extra care when interpreting their messages and following through with certain procedures. For example, it’s not customary to discuss pricing upfront in some nations, but perfectly normal for others. Do some research and ask around your network for advice on the specific client you are working with. Most of the time, it’s reasonable to ask your client directly, if you need something clarified.

Use your track record

Pitching based on what you’ve already accomplished gives your business more credibility. If possible, mention past international clients that you have already worked with. We have found that emphasizing our scope across countries has been very effective in highlighting our international capability. A history of successful case studies will ensure the client that your business is competent and reputable, even if it is halfway around the world.

Transparency in Recruiting

By Nancy Wu

When a recruiting firm handles a large volume of clients and candidates, giving candidates feedback (especially bad news) can fall on the back-burner. However, we believe that honesty and transparency is a better policy than trying to cushion the blow by obscuring information.

Our goal when working with candidates is collaborative and cooperative decision-making; we want to find the best candidates for the job, but we also want to make sure that it is the best career option for the candidate. Many times, when we contact a potential candidate, we will tell them upfront that they are too senior or too junior for what we are looking for. On the other hand, some recruiting firms will send candidates even though they are the wrong level or have inadequate experience, just to show their client that they have a large bank of candidates to draw from and to make themselves look more capable. We believe that this is a waste of time and effort; the candidates will have to be rejected later, and the client will not fill their vacancy and the candidates will have potentially got their hopes up for no reason. Instead, we prefer to send a fewer number of specifically targeted candidates, ensuring that they are high-quality and suitable for our client.

When working with clients, we prioritize their needs and keep their requests in mind, even if it means putting in more work on our end. For example, a candidate we recently worked with had great skills and experience, and interviewed very well with us. She seemed high-energy, willing to take on new challenges, and very expert in her field. We decided to send her profile to our client after screening her, and set up an interview for the following week at our client’s request. However, during our preparatory phone call, it became apparent that she had not done her research on the company, wasn’t particularly motivated to work for our client and was just interested in the position for a financial gain. Though she was good on paper and originally interviewed well, she was not suitable for our client. We then contacted our client and warned them about the potential issue and but they decided to conduct the interview regardless, but to give us feedback afterward ASAP. Though there was no second interview, our client appreciated our honesty and proactivity. Our candidate, though disappointed, thanked us for the opportunity and agreed that she would have been the wrong fit for the company.

We find that running our company in a conscientious and transparent manner is the best way to keep clients and candidates happy. We want to offer true value for all parties, and we believe that can be accomplished by being completely accurate and transparent about our functions and services.

If you have any questions about how we operate, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Filler Candidates - what they are & why we don't send them

By Orla Treacy

Clients regularly tell us that they receive unsuitable candidates from agencies that appear to be sent as “fillers” – these are candidates that are sent to fill space but are not actually suitable for the position, they are filling a space to justify the agency retainer fee. We often explain that this is a product of clients engaging agencies on a retained basis, i.e. paying them a large sum of money without receiving concrete results. At Accelerate, we do not charge any fee unless we successfully fill a vacancy and therefore there is no financial incentive for us to send “filler” candidates.

When a client pays a recruitment agency two-thirds of their fee up-front to simply deliver candidates, it makes it easy for the firm to send profiles that may not be entirely suitable for the role, just so they can justify the fee payment. The agency can then relax as the majority of the money is in the bank and convince their clients to interview the presented candidates because that is what they are finding in the market.

By removing the retainer fee, the client removes the incentive for the recruitment agency to send irrelevant candidates as the client and the agency have the same objective, which is to fill the vacancy with the best possible candidate in the most favorable timeframe.

We change the dynamic between the agency and the client entirely, which is rather unusual at an executive level, but it guarantees quality service for our clients because the only thing that will happen if we send “filler” candidates is that we will lose a client (and a potential fee). From a candidate perspective, it also avoids us wasting candidates’ time by including them in processes they don’t have a chance of successfully completing. It is a win-win situation for all involved.  

Face-to-face meetings - a thing of the past

By Erin Kelly

In today’s globalized world, face-to-face interviews with the headhunter are becoming a thing of the past and can also be a disadvantage in the candidate selection process. With tools like FaceTime, Skype, and the most obvious, the phone, virtual interviews are the future of recruiting the best talent.

We are a global headhunting firm, which means it is very difficult to meet many of our candidates in person – we can’t be everywhere after all! This might make us different to the traditional headhunting firms who tend to have local offices present in each market they operate in, but it also gives us significant advantages.

 Here are some of the benefits of eliminating face-to-face contact between the candidate and the headhunting firm:

1.     Time saving: We are all short on time and by not requiring a candidate to come into our office and go through various interviews during their/our business hours, we are saving the candidate time. We are also saving the client time because we are able to send candidates more quickly - it is easier and faster for us to contact the best candidates in the world via phone and Skype.

2.     Access to top talent: This is connected to time, but along with the fact that we do not require the candidate to come to us, we can also have a conversation with them at any point in the day. We can talk to the candidate at six in the morning before their children wake up for school or before they go into their first meeting at the office. We can talk to the candidate during their lunch break and we can also talk to the candidate late at night. Simply put, we are flexible enough to talk to our candidates at their convenience, which means we have better access to passive talent than virtually any other company in the business.

3.     Low barrier to enter the recruitment process: This allows us to access the highly sought after passive talent. By passive talent, I mean the candidates who are not actively searching for a new role, typically they are happy where they are and have good results in a competitor organization. By not meeting the candidate face to face, we make the process more attractive and convenient. Our goal is to not waste the candidate’s time, and ensure quick access for them and the key decision maker, the client. 

4.     Global talent: By not meeting our candidates face to face we can speak with candidates regardless of their physical location in the world. For global, regional, or even local roles, we can simultaneously speak with candidates in different countries and continents. This means if you are looking for a Spanish speaker for a role in Miami, we can contact candidates across the US, but also across Latin America and even Spanish speakers currently based in other parts of the world. Another example is if you are looking for an Arabic speaker to be based in Dubai, we can search across the entire Middle East, Europe, and even the US, simultaneously. The examples and advantages are endless.

These are just some of the many advantages of eliminating the need for a face-to-face meeting with the headhunter. Would you like to learn more? Feel free to contact us at

Don't Leave A Candidate Waiting

By Orla Treacy


I truly believe in providing feedback and communicating regularly with all candidates in the process. I reply to every email I receive and enjoy keeping on top of my correspondence. I imagine being in a process, investing energy, getting my hopes up and then imagine never hearing back from the recruiter – it seems horrible, almost like being stood up on a date.

I have worked with and for firms that believe it is a waste of time getting back to people with negative feedback. I fundamentally disagree with this for a number of reasons; firstly, it is unfair on the candidate as they may sit in limbo for eternity, and secondly it is unprofessional and can damage your reputation. I see all candidates I interact with as future potential clients as I don’t know where these people will go in their careers or what future recruitment needs they may have. There are both ethical and commercial reasons to provide all candidates, even those being declined by the clients, with clear feedback as soon as it is provided.

I highly value the candidate and client experience; it allows strong relationships to grow between parties. Working on a success-only basis, meaning our clients don’t pay us anything unless they hire a candidate we introduce to them, enhances the need to have a good reputation, provide an excellent service and keep all parties happy. It is also far more pleasant to work with people who enjoy hearing from you, consider you reliable and efficient, and who trust your service.

“Do you really need to speak with the hiring manager?”

By Erin Kelly


A critical part of our process is speaking to the hiring manager. This might make us different from other headhunting firms, but this is a key factor in our ability to find the right candidate for you, and a huge part of what makes us successful.

Why is this really important? Well, there are a lot of reasons: 

1.     First hand information - we want to hear it from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. We want to know the hiring manager’s impressions of the role, what their expectations are, and what they are looking for in a candidate.

2.     No time wasted – the last thing we want to do is take up the valuable time of the hiring manager, and the best way to do that is to speak with this person right from the start. We want to target the search and only present candidates that are going to meet the hiring manager’s expectations. Talking to us for an hour and giving us the right briefing information will save many hours of interviewing the wrong candidates, because you are ensuring that we have the right criteria. The very worst thing we can do is provide a long list of candidates and have none of them make the cut! We want to provide a short list of targeted candidates, so you have an ideal slate of candidates and can pick the best one for your position and company.

3.     Buy-in from the hiring manager - we are all aligned on the search and we are all interested in identifying the perfect candidate for the position. A hiring manager that is willing to dedicate their time is a hiring manager that wants to find the right candidate… and let’s remember that your success is our success!

It is all about creating the right partnership from the beginning, help us so that we can help you!

 So the next time you ask your headhunting firm, “Do you really need to speak with the hiring manager?” The answer is yes!