Executive Search Nusantara


Executive Search & Recruitment In Indonesia

Does Your Recruiter Listen to You, Understand Your Business…. And Then Get You The Best People Available?

ESN does….And Here Is How We Do It!

Welcome to an official ESN website. Beware, as there are many recruitment companies now, in Indonesia and in other Southeast Asian countries, which use our name or one very similar in order to confuse potential clients. Only this ESN, Executive Search Nusantara, and the Executive Search Network – Asia, has more than 25 years of experience in the Developed, Emerging and Frontier Markets of Indonesia and Southeast Asia. Beware the pretenders.

With the new tools of the internet, the executive search industry has experienced the influx of what is known as “mass amateurization”. People are easy to find using various web tools and job boards. Job descriptions can be written using automated tools. Even CVs can be written automatically from inventories of people looking for jobs thru the web. Notice, the word “candidates” is not mentioned even one time . Nor is the factor of the knowledge-base of the consultant, as part of the process, mentioned. These are factors which separate the amateur from the professionals. But these factors cannot be seen during the process, as the automated tools are actually doing the work. Their impact can only be seen in the finshed product, when it is too late to rectify. The true difference between the seasoned professional and the less experienced and lower priced “nouveau professional” is in the foundational background and understanding brought to the execution of the project. The true professional understands more than just how to use the new tools; he also understands the background of the client, the background of the project, and the profile of success. The true professional has at least 15 years of experience, which predates the web tools. You can usually tell what you are getting by just knowing how long your consultant has been practicing. And listen carefully as you brief your consultant. Does he truly understand your business; can he convey anecdotes of experience in some of the issues you face; can he, himself, add value to the process? Or is he just an order taker?

The first step in the recruitment process is to find the potential candidates. This is done through a process which is called “Research”. This is the step in which the talent acquisition project can be destined for success or doomed to failure. The old saying in computer processing is “garbage in, garbage out” or GIGO. If you do not find good potential candidates in early research, it is not possible that the final candidate will be good. But these days, using internet sourcing and internet searching tools for passive candidates, you can only find either inaccurate third-party information or self-proclamations of achievements and capabilities. Nobody posts to a job board and says, honestly, “I am not capable. I am not motivated.” One other factor which we have recently uncovered is that, in order to reduce costs, many recruiters will use part-time researchers, either fresh graduates or housewives, paid on an hourly basis. These, as one website describes them,  “consultants with considerable experience in handling a variety of executive search assignments”  will search the internet and find candidates in any way they can. This is one of the reasons for the poor quality of the shortlists produced by many recruitment firms, especially in the more developed and overly price-conscious markets of SE Asia. The “researchers”, charged with finding the prime drivers of the quality of the process, the qualified candidates, do not themselves have industrial experience. Better you ask about the experience of the researchers who your recruiter uses, as the success of your recruitment depends on their contribution to the effort. Ours researchers typically have more than 10 years of full-time experience, and our consultants have no less than 8 years of true “executive search” experience. 

The second step is known as “Candidate Development”. During the 1990’s, this phase of the process was eliminated by many firms in an effort to streamline their process. Today most recruiters will go directly from Candidate Identification in the Research phase to Candidate Presentation, bypassing the development phase which is both time-consuming and costly. Why has this phase been dropped? As clients put on pressure to shorten cycle times, this was the most obvious function to cut. Unfortunately, the reduction of this phase had its costs in the quality assurance process of evaluation of all candidates. Less time spent with the candidate meant less understanding of the candidates’ capabilities and needs. It might have dropped the quality, but it met the objective of shortening the cycle time. Without any checks in the system, this process short-cut spread throughout the recruitment industry as more recruiters rushed to try to meet the clients’ demands for shorter cycle times. The good news, however, is  that, with the new internet-based recruitment tools available to the professional recruiter, this shortened cycle time no longer requires short-cutting the process. And the professional recruiter, with his vast foundation in industry knowledge, is able to not only compete in terms of cycle-time, but he can apply his deeper knowledge of the industry and of the candidates within the same timeframe.  

The third step in the process is what we call the “Contact Phase”. In Step I, Research, the internet can compete in terms of volume, but not in quality; but you can get lucky, if you want to rely on luck for your hiring of key individuals, which is obviously not a prudent fiduciary move. In Step II, Candidate Development, the internet cannot perform this process, but the tools of the internet for candidate experiential evaluation most certainly enhance and complement the experience of the qualified executive search consultant. In Step III, the Contact Phase, the internet can help quantify the candidates personal profiling. But in the Contact Phase is where your Professional Consultant’s experience becomes extremely important. It is in this phase that the candidate, who has presented themselves in writing and then been interviewed extensively on the phone, will be met face-to-face, so that a full evaluation can be performed, with the assistance of body language and other non-verbal communication analysis. We have found that even video-conferencing cannot replace face-to-face contact.

The fourth and final step in the process is “Talent Acquisition”. In this phase, the client has identified the candidate who best meets the criteria. It is at this point that the hiring company’s requirements and compensation must be balanced with the candidate’s capabilities and needs, so that the process can be brought to a successful completion and result in a long and fruitful relationship. Too many hiring managers do not fully appreciate this step. In the New Millennium, this is crucial, more so than in the past. Candidates, your employees, expect to have their needs respected. Although this was somewhat important at any time in the past, it is even more critical now. Social networking tools have opened up communications between people much more than ever before. And so if the socialization, the on-boarding, the integration of the new employee is not started in the negotiation process, it can have later impact and could, at worst case, result in a failed hire. Failure might not be reflected immediately in not hiring Mr Right, but it could result in demotivating Mr Right, or in losing Mr Right later. All negative outcomes have significant cost impact, especially in the case of key positions.

We are much more than just a recruiter or headhunter. Our systematic approach to executive search normally involves selecting target institutions and, within those targets, individuals identified as having the appropriate experience, education and personal characteristics to meet your requirement. This is done in a highly confidential manner. Our systematic executive search process saves a client’s top executives valuable time, which can be more productively spent fulfilling other corporate/institutional responsibilities. We prepare a comprehensive confidential report on each candidate, which covers the candidate’s working career, those personal aspects which are relevant to the position and our appraisal of how the candidate’s qualifications relate to this specific opportunity. 

Based on more than 25 years of direct operating experience, the Executive Search Nusantara/ESN philosophy of executive selection is that what a person has done in the past is a very reliable indicator of what he or she is likely to do in the future, especially if supported by the appropriate levels of Emotional Intelligence (EQ). If an individual has been as effective performer, thinker or leader, that person will likely bring the same qualities to the position under consideration. A compelling personality, for example, means little if it has not resulted in superior on-the-job performance. The average recruiter or headhunter will not consider such in-depth evaluation of candidates, especially in Indonesia, where the recruiters try to cut their margins past the critical point of quality.. 

Confidentiality: it is our general policy not to divulge our client’s identity without prior permission. Candidates will not be apprised of your identity until we have preliminarily confirmed their qualifications and potential interest. Our usual plan is to defer that until time of face-to-face interview. 

Exclusivity: Executive Search Nusantara/ESN establishes an exclusive consulting agreement with our clients. We expect you not to separately advertise nor use a competing organization on the same engagement during the period of involvement. Unnecessary duplication puts all parties in a potentially embarrassing situation and may result in the downgrading of the position in the eyes of potential candidates, not to mention resulting in unnecessary additional costs. 

Communications: Establishing frequent and effective communications between consultant and client is often the key to completing a search successfully. Our rule of thumb is simple: more is better than less. The same holds true for the front-end discussions where we are introduced to the specific issues driving the search. The more we can learn from a client, the more familiar we are with your goals, leadership and culture, the more effective we can be serving as your enthusiastic and informed representative in the market-place. Many tough searches have been completed because the search consultant was able to sell as well as evaluate.


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20 October, 2006 - Posted by | Links |


  1. Executive Search Nusantara’s Qualifications

    We are not just an advertised recruiter or a “headhunter”. We are an established, international executive search firm, operating in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, with extensive experience in recruiting senior professionals in all industries. This assures the advantage of ready access to prospective candidates in all relevant career arenas through a state-of-the-art information system, extensive research facilities and continuity of service.

    Our knowledge of the structure, dynamics and financing of private/public sector organizations and consultative approach to executive search assures that your “headhunter” also understand your needs and is able to effectively assist with recruiting, evaluating and selecting candidates in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

    Our process orientation towards executive search enhances the probability that a consensus choice will be made and that all key organizational constituents will perceive that they have been represented in the decision process and are committed to the individual selected. This is outside the scope of those recruiters who are just headhunters, and most certainly impossible for those who outsource a lot of the research process to part-timers and inexperienced hourly workers.

    Founded in 1983 in Indonesia as Eksekutif Search Nusantara, we were the first international executive search firm to enter the rapidly growing and extremely challenging Indonesian market. Our dedication to performing high quality search in a timely manner has enabled us to maintain long-term relationships with organizations around the world and has made us an industry leader in the proportion of engagements and referrals coming from former clients. It is this experience which now allows us to excel in the other markets of Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, because recruiters in those markets do not have to work under the same difficult circumstances.

    Our consultants are mature, seasoned search professionals who have had extensive experience in business prior to their association with the firm. They are supported by a professional full-time research staff and a state-of-the-art information system. We utilize an internal computerized database and a complete library of reference materials and industry publications. These information sources are augmented by a networking process, which taps the collective experience and personal network of firm’s consultants.

    Comment by esnjakarta | 26 October, 2006 | Reply

  2. Executive Search Nusantara’s Commercial Terms

    In our commercial terms in Indonesia there are some specific points to note:
    1) We quote our contracts in Rupiah terms, not in US$ or other foreign currency.
    2) We have no minimum fee stated.
    3) We are tax exempt and therefore do not incur PPn, a 10% savings to our clients.
    4) Our so-called “retainer fee” payments are based on work incurred, not on value of contract. So they are more like “progress payments”.
    5) We do not charge for local expenses. If a multi-country search is required or recommended (for example, if you want to hire a foreigner and want to look in other SE Asian countries), our wholly-owned ASEAN network allows us to minimize expenses for a regional search, and also maintain our local fee level. (Many firms will ask for higher fee levels for multi-country searches, because they do not own the multi-country network, or have an internal fee-sharing contract requiring them to duplicate disbursement to their consultants.)

    Much of our work is performed for multinational companies. If any of the following are of interest, please request more information:
    1) We are working towards an ISO 9001:2008 rating, reflecting our commitment to quality of service
    2) We are registered with Dun & Bradstreet (EKSEKUTIF SUMBERDAYA NUSANTARA, PT – DUNS Number 72-666-6519)
    3) Our contracts carry clauses regarding our commitment to legal compliance
    4) We regularly execute Non-Disclosure Agreements with our clients

    One new feature to the section “Why Work with ESN” is our way of quoting our total fee. With our client’s agreement, a target compensation package will be decided, and we will quote a fixed fee based on that target compensation package. We will charge only the agreed fee, as long as the actual compensation does not exceed the target by 25% which, in almost 100% of the cases over our 25 year history, it does not. So with a fixed fee, and no charges for out-of-pocket expenses, our clients know exactly how much they will pay ESN from the beginning. No other search and recruitment firm can do it the same way as we do it.

    Recruitment firms typically work with their clients on the basis of 1 of 2 catigories of commercial terms – contingency basis (no cure, no pay) or retainer fee (upfront payments). Just because a recruiting firms asks for a rertainer fee does not mean that they will work at a higher quality standard. In most countries, it is not possible to provide quality of service on a contingency basis. But in countries like Singapore, it might be possible for certain assignments. In Indonesia, in our opinion, it is impossible. But just because a recruiter insists upon a retainer fee, check his credentials first. There are less than a handful of companies (meaningless than 5) in Jakarta that work at a service level which would justify a retainer fee basis.

    To make the commercial terms clearer, as many Senior Managers in commerce and industry do not understand the underlying philosophies, contingency terms are similar to consignment terms, or selling on a “indent basis”. In product-oriented industries, most reputable firms will not deal with indent agents or sales on a consignment basis, as these are very opportunistic and lack commitment to quality of service in the process. Its just for a quick sale and a sure way to damage your brand. And yet these same Senior Managers who avoid consignment or indent agents will entrust their companies very critical human resource acquisition to firms with the same opportunistic mentality, with no vested interest in brand appreciation. The reason often given is that “there is less risk”, but on whose part? There is less risk somewhere, but there is no commitment.

    We never work on 100% contingency terms (no-cure, no-pay) as this works against all parties in the Indonesian business environment. We know this through direct experience. Contingency recruiters are able to close less than 10% of the assignments they work on, and therefore must work more than 10 times harder to make their money. This has serious implications on quality, and it is one of the primary factors why most Indonesian recruiters have a reputation for poor quality and only are able to survive for a few years in the market. We, however, are driven by internal standards, and are currently in process of implementing ISO 9001:2008, something no other recruiter in Indonesia has done. We do know that other firms which provide a service at our level, either locally or from Singapore, charge a minimum US$25,000-35,000 to provide less service than we do. This is why we have had successful operations for 25 years. And we firmly believe in the value of the long-term relationship and supporting our clients at all levels.

    Comment by esnjakarta | 16 February, 2009 | Reply

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