A healthy and beneficial partnership

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H.I.R.E. Inc. members led by President and Founder Carmen Tengtio-Guevara (top row, second from left)

By Sigourney V. Tulfo

In a competitive human capital market, search firms are pressured to make the first match between a corporation and an executive talent to ensure their place in a major corporation’s hiring process. These firms often hurry the process and forego the necessary steps to make the best talent matches. For some firms, finding the right talent begins with following a standard of ethics and a partnership that makes both client and talent meet their needs without compromise.

Highest Integrity in Recruiting Executives or H.I.R.E Inc., a boutique executive search firm founded by veteran human resource executive Carmen Tengtio-Guevara  in 1991, is one of those firms. A former John Clements Consultants Inc. executive, Ms. Guevara has espoused the ethical and international standards that she has learned since 1976 at her own firm. This commitment to a code of conduct has inspired Ms. Guevara to highlight this value in the company’s name and its acronym. She is also the vice-president and one of the founders of the Philippine Association of Executive Search Professional, Inc. (PAESPI), a group of executive search professionals who follow a set of ethics that will protect both the corporate clients and the executive talents during a headhunting process.

For 25 years now, H.I.R.E has been conducting rigorous searches for top-level executive and managerial level positions, with a minimum salary of P2 million. The firm focuses on developing close client partnerships over volume generation, choosing to work on a shorter list of clients than a longer one, for an unrivalled focus that delivers quality results.

“This model enables H.I.R.E. Inc. to work long term with its clients and to remain true to its code of ethics,” Ms. Guevara told BusinessWorld. This model is best for facilitating closely monitored searches, she added.

H.I.R.E.’s team of consultants, researchers and database administrators observe a comprehensive and time-bound search that values the client and talent’s trust and rights. The first consideration of the firm is the proper understanding of the client’s needs by gathering the right job requirements. These client requirements or “specs,” as Ms. Guevara calls them, are what guide the team to do appropriate research. “It’s like building a house. If you don’t have the specs, you might get all the wrong materials. It’s not going to end up being the house that you want,” Ms. Guevara said.

The firm’s searches are closely monitored to meet the standards and values that it represents and ensure that both the client and the executive talents’ needs are being met. “We agree on a working timetable with them on our deliverables. We follow our code of ethics for both clients and candidates. Precisely, that is what our name stands for. Finally, we work with utmost confidentiality in all our searches as this is perhaps one of the primary reasons why clients would use a headhunter,” Ms. Guevara said.

Confidentiality is of great importance to H.I.R.E as most executives have reached a level where having their information float around is a liability on their part. H.I.R.E, in the initial stages of its searches, does not reveal the company’s name but ensures that it describes the line of work or industry that is being offered to an executive talent.

Executive searches are both an “art and a skill” that H.I.R.E. has mastered. Apart from the actual search, other activities like pitching, interviewing and matching require a certain style to be effective. “Our line of work is a matching process,” Ms. Guevara said. She explained that as hiring consultants, they need to learn how to probe and communicate openly with the executive talent and the client. This open communication is what would dictate whether the match will be successful or not.

H.I.R.E.’s roster of clients includes big leagues from various industries. And it prides itself on its ability to understand the changing markets. It has also handled longtime clients who have since expanded into other industries.

The firm also sees itself taking part in the ASEAN integration which can foster foreign executives working in the Philippines to fill jobs where local talents are not available and vice versa, since regional jobs tend to be an aspiration for most Filipino professionals.