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How specialized recruiters ensure businesses find the right people

December 14, 2021

By: Sean Mooney

Scarcity is impacting pretty much every aspect of our lives, from groceries to car parts to, in particular, people. Finding the right people for your business has always been a herculean task but in the COVID and post-COVID era, it’s even harder. The highly-publicized Great Resignation has led to millions of capable people outright leaving the workforce. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate of job openings in the United States doubled from spring 2020 to July 2021, leading to skyrocketing business demand for talent.

Business leaders are desperately trying to onboard team members with the specific skills they need for the new post-COVID normal because the solution to their shortages can’t be to do nothing. So, the question becomes, how do you find the right people in this challenging environment? Per our BluWave Business Builder Index, the PE industry’s emphasis on human resources has grown from 18% of activity in 2018 to 39% of all tracked activity as of Q3 2021. With the private equity industry’s single biggest focus area being people, this should give every business leader a sense of where they should also be spending their time and attention, as well as a sense of the importance of human capital in today’s business climate.

The private equity industry finds the right people by first taking time to understand the exact type of person they need for each role.  They do this by assessing what key attributes are needed via scorecards – including functional role, cognitive aptitude, industry expertise, wage rates, culture, availability, and geography needs.

In order to connect with the individuals that have these needed attributes, proactive private equity firms are utilizing specialized recruiters. How is a generalist recruiter sitting at a desk in New York going to truly understand how to recruit for a niche, mid-sized company in the Heartland? Well, the truth is: they don’t.  Specialized recruiters allow for quicker and better results due to their expertise across the key attributes that you’ve identified you need.

Industry Expertise Matters

Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, I was in the private industry for nearly 20 years. During this time, I learned that every industry has unique nuances that are critical to understand.  If your recruiter doesn’t know these distinctions, how could they possibly be expected to assess who’s good in each industry? Moreover, while the world is large, most industries are “small.”  Really good people in each industry know each other and know who’s good as well as who’s not at different things.  Recruiters who specialize by industry typically know the people you need and who’s available before you even call them.

Functional Role Expertise Creates Advantage

Just like every industry has unique aspects, so does each functional role in an organization.  The skills needed to be successful in a CEO position are quite different than those needed in a CFO role.  Proactive firms get this and use different recruiters, aligned by functional area, for each of their core C-Suite hires such as CEOs, CFOs, CMOs, CHROs, etc.  There are certain parts of business that I intimately and expertly understand. However, there are many others like digital marketing, legal, and tax that I do not, so I hire experts who know what great is and use their skills accordingly.  Hiring managers should adopt this same mindset when engaging specialized recruiters.

Be Local

There are 197 million square miles in the world and nearly 8 billion people.  Even with LinkedIn, it’s hard to know everyone.  It’s much easier for recruiters to know who is excellent within their own geographic regions.  Geographic alignment for recruiters becomes particularly important when you’re recruiting into smaller cities, more rural areas, and lower-level positions where it’s harder to relocate top candidates.  The more local your recruiter is, the better chance they’ll already know who you need.

To Each Their Own

Different people have different skills that enable them to succeed at different size companies and earn different wage rates.  Over the years, I’ve learned the hard way that most recruiters perform their best when staying within their company size and wage range sweet spots.  Some focus on “rock stars” that lead large companies and/or earn more than $1 million per year.  Others focus on mid-size companies and/or $500k-$1million wage ranges.  Others on SMBs and $250k-$500k wages. And then there are a sea of people who focus on everything below.  Make sure you align your selected recruiter with the company size and wage range they focus on.  That way they’ll have a built-in network that is already good to go.  If they don’t, the recruiter will likely default to getting one of their junior associates to learn on your dollar and start canvassing LinkedIn, which invariably leads to mixed results.


Hiring the right people is never easy.  In the current climate, it’s significantly harder. It’s essential to eliminate as much bias and variability as possible, focus on capabilities, and align your search partners with key candidate success factors.  By taking the time to understand what attributes you require in a candidate and then utilizing a specialized recruiter that synchronizes with your scorecard, you’ll find that your hiring success rate and speed of placement will improve dramatically.

If we can help quickly connect you to the specialized recruiter you need, please contact us and we’d be happy to get started quickly.