The 5 Why’s of Executive Search

Why is it important for you?

People decisions are of the greatest importance to you, the decision maker. If you succeed at solving the people puzzle, the prospects for your business because of that improve significantly. Conversely if you fail to get the right people in the right jobs, everything is impacted negatively. When it comes to a strategic or leadership hire, clients require a focused and specialized process that is fundamentally different from normal recruiting. Making a key hire is hard and not everyone has the formal training in this most important activity.

Why is it important for the organization?

Getting the right person to head an organization or business is most often the difference between success and failure. Yet almost a 3rd of people in strategic or leadership roles leave in a short period of time. This holds true at almost all levels of the organization. Organizations generally choose to go external in their hiring when they are faced with a challenge of growth, lack of talent internally or a struggling business that demands a change or a fresh perspective. The challenge here is that very few people get any formal training in finding and choosing good people and a significant number of those are not really engaging with specialists, in finding them.

It is of utmost importance at such times to partner with a trusted advisor.

Why does it need to be so elaborate?

Executive Search includes what is also known as “headhunting” or “leadership hiring”. This involves, primarily, hiring external candidates for senior positions in your organization. Roles such as CXO’s, VP’s, MD’s or Directors.

It is also recommended where organizations are looking for candidates with the same levels of experience to come and work in strategic and high value individual contributor roles. If the role has unique characteristics or attributes, then it probably requires a search.

Executive Search in its broader scope also includes the activity of assessing the talent within a client’s organization. It can be critically important in certain situations, especially in the context of a restructure, acquisition or where a company needs to decide how to reassign existing management and leadership resources.

Your search partner will spend an extensive amount of time with you and all stakeholders involved in the hiring, to prepare a comprehensive position profile and then develop a research-oriented search strategy to identify the best candidate for the role looking at all potential external and internal options, if any.

Once engaged, there are broadly 8 steps to an executive search process which are as follows:

1. Establishing the search criteria and creating a position profile

2. Market mapping to identify potential talent

3. Presenting the opportunity to “possible” candidates

4. Assessing and presenting candidate reports of shortlisted candidates

5. Conducting discrete reference checks on candidates being considered

6. Negotiating compensation

7. Managing the entire process right up to “Day 1”

8. Regular check ins with the hiring manager(s), stakeholders, and the candidate for up to a year after commencement

Why your search partner matters?

You may have many reasons to choose one partner over another which is expected and understandable. Your partner is your trusted advisor. You need to ensure however that they thoroughly understand your business and the specific challenge you are trying to address. A good search partner is not rushed. They must not be someone who tip-toes asking the right questions, the hard questions. A good search partner will, to paraphrase from the famous quote “spend half the time sharpening their axe”.

A good search partner will never see the completion of a search as a benchmark of success. They will only view it as the commencement of a success story.

Why it needs to be retained?

A search is not just a process but also a project with various stages of completion. You are not hiring a person but looking to solve that business challenge which impact your business in 10’s or 100’s of millions of dollars. There is work that goes into finding, assessing, presenting, and closing senior level talent a high percentage of which is passive and not looking.

Retainers are meant to ensure focus of resources and commitment to delivery. The success of non-retained search assignments which are used more for entry level, mid-career or volume hires is as their name often suggests contingency based.

The question you want to ask yourself is whether you want to save on a marginal fee up front and go for the hit or miss approach? Should you engage with multiple resources, all with their own standards, varying methodologies of assessment, and a resultant inconsistent output.

Or would you rather work with one partner, build a comprehensive profile for the role, discuss and analyze the search strategy and then let them come back to you with a short-list of what you would have expected. Would you rather leave it all to chance or be in control of the process and its outcome?

A retainer is charged upfront to cover time and material investment and usually search partners have milestone, based fee structures. Principally, I have always believed in two milestones namely, commencement and offer acceptance.

Which is why I believe the engagement fee should be just about enough to cover ones costs and not the reason the search partner is in business. We don’t just help hire, we want to partner with our clients solve a business problem.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to Top