Search people are functionally comparable to psychotherapists. We get to ask impertinent questions, probe and poke around to our heart's content, then make our diagnosis. Unlike mental health professionals, we don't aspire to improve the subject's condition. Just the opposite! We are bound by the charter of our mission to sit in judgement, to be vigilant gatekeepers and to prevent the unworthy from entering Paradise. Then we go somewhere nice for lunch.      

So begins one of the early paragraphs of the irreverent new book Let Me Give It To You Straight, written by Mark Jaffe, founder of Jaffe & Wyatt retained search firm. 

In his more than 25 years in the business, Jaffe has been recognized as one of the "World's 100 Most Influential Headhunters" by BusinessWeek and his company has been called one of the 50 leading retained search firms in North America by Executive Recruiter News

Serious accolades. But Jaffe doesn't take himself too seriously apparently.  In fact, he says he worked hard to avoid the cliche-filled, self-important, sanctimonious tones of too many business books and proposes to tell it like it is. 

Know what 'Oz' stands for? Outer Zone. Every person is a little like Frank Morgan, nervously exhorting, 'Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain! I am the great and powerful Wizard of Oz!' My job - for whatever it's worth - is to gain access to the person behind the curtain, to grasp who that individual truly is (within the context of my objectives) and to translate that perception into valuable knowledge for my clients. 

Jaffe writes in the intro that there isn't any profession he knows of that "strips the varnish off business and its heroes like executive search."

He says the search profession was a spin-off, shortly after World War II, of the management consulting profession. "Search was a sub-specialty, and its practitioners labored tirelessly to ensure that the public regarded them as consultant-advisors, not salesmen."

Jaffe describes assignments as reminiscent of a beauty pageant and says a client's hiring agenda can vary broadly, anywhere from status quo ("Fred dropped dead at his desk this morning. Can you bring us somebody just like him by end of day?") to bold and game-changing ("We want to break all the dishes. Seriously. But without upsetting anyone.") 

He also describes how the business has evolved in the online world we live in.

In the old days when the word 'Rolodex' was commonly heard, the trick was to have a broad network of contacts with expertise in specific industries and functions. The game has changed, though; now everyone is visible. So it comes down to our good taste and judgement: how we handicap the players, how we package the opportunity and how we manage the recruitment process.

The people we approach are almost never looking for a change. They are, but they don't know it yet. We do research to identify who we want by experience and reputation. The prospects, in turn, field our phone calls and pretend to be ambivalent. Believe me, no one is fooled. You can sit around and wait to be promoted...or you can take the bait and go to the interview. 

Are you ready to take the bait and read the book? I have to admit to not having read too many books by recruiters. But I have read enough of this one to conclude it's different. 

During a time of increasing Obamacare anxiety, you also have to appreciate a guy who uses this as a bio. 

In his next life, Jaffe wants to return as a beloved, world-famous satirist or an insurance claims adjustor…whichever has better health coverage.