What does an executive search firm do?

What does an Executive Search Firm Do?

Hi! I’m Robert Travis, and I have worked in executive search for over 25 years across multiple continents. I help my clients identify and attract the best talent to help them achieve their goals. I have helped recruit a key executive or help establish an entirely new leadership team for my clients across various industries. To fully understand what executive search firms do, and are executive search firms worth it. Let’s first understand what executive search is all about.

What is Executive Search?

Executive Search is the process of finding the best talent for a vacancy possible. The process is sometimes referred to as head-hunting. This is where Executive search head-hunters approach top talent on your behalf, who are succeeding in other businesses already and are passive in their job search or not proactively looking for new roles. 

Outsourced executive search generally charges on a retained basis and charges in instalments over the search process.

Executive recruitment also aims to fill vacancies. However, it achieves it by honing the employer’s brand and job listings to get as many leads as possible. And then using their expertise to promote those jobs in the best location to get applicants for your business. So it only targets active job seekers.

Outsourced recruitment generally charges on a contingent model. This means they charge a fee for every successful candidate which gets placed with the company.

Both Require Expert Skills… But They Differ Greatly. 

Executive search consultants are skilled in accessing passive and active job markets.  They identify candidates who are the right fit for your business and vacancy.  They do this by confidentially persuading them to consider your vacancy and educating them about your business and the role.  Aiming to determine their fit for the position and get them to agree to an interview with your business.  This model relies on the fact that some of the best candidates are busy at their jobs and are not actively looking for other employment opportunities.  The role of an executive search consultant is to get the professional to stop and reflect on their career and explore the possibility of professional growth through other employment.

Contingent recruitment experts are skilled in developing compelling job descriptions, creating an exciting employer brand for your business, and then finding the best places to advertise these positions to get as many applicants as possible.  They then filter down the applicants based on your needs and wants, to be left with only the best candidates, and then invite these candidates to interview.  The challenge is that this model will only bring forward actively looking prospects, and this is demonstrated by the fact that the candidates responded to an advertisement.

What Does an Executive Search Firm Do?

Executive Search Firms are networks of executive search consultants. For example, Boyden, A global executive search firm where I am a Managing Partner, has more than 75 offices in over 45 countries. We are on every continent (apart from Antarctica). If you contact me for help. I can:

  • Help you directly with your executive search needs
  • Connect you to the best-suited executive search expert in the region you are targeting who specializes in your industry and on the roles, you’re looking to fill
  • Lead a search team with members across the world to help you conduct a global search for the absolute best in the world
  • Lead a search team to help you build a full new leadership team for international expansion

So working with an executive search firm over an individual headhunter can enable you to tackle a wide range of executive search tasks faster. No matter what industry you are in or the location you are aiming to expand or replace talent in.

Could Executive Search Benefit your Business?

General Search Firm vs Executive Search Firm

What makes executive search firms different from general search firms, you may ask? In simple terms, a general search firm lacks the expertise to recruit for executive positions.  A more consultative relationship needs to be established to correctly search for candidates at an executive level. 

Contingent recruitment experts are skilled at mining static data in their database and posting targets advertising. Again, this has a place in a recruitment strategy, but will never access the passive candidate who is busy doing their job well.

This is why many businesses and executive leaders maintain a healthy ongoing relationship with executive recruitment firms.  The longer they partner together, the better both organizations understand the subtle nuances unique to their company and the search firm can identify the right talent faster.

When Do People Use Executive Search over Contingent Recruitment?

Executive search and Contingent recruiting both aim to fill job vacancies. However, there are many situations when companies choose to use executive search over contingent recruitment.

When Top Talent is a Necessity

When multi-million, billion or even trillion-dollar companies need a new C-level executive or senior management, they want the best of the best. It is very rare for any of these positions to be publicly advertised. As they recognize there is a very limited number of those who are suited to lead their business or various business functions.  

The candidates won’t have an amazing track record and are currently doing amazing work in their current roles. At this level, these candidates are extremely rarely actively looking for new job opportunities. They have the luxury of getting offers from headhunters regularly, so they don’t need to.

So essentially, without referrals inside your own network, it is not really possible to get these people for your vacancy.

Confidential Searches

You may have an underperforming CEO, CFO, CIO, CHRO, VP of Marketing or VP of Sales. You can’t advertise their position publicly if you want to replace them. If the incumbent spots the ad, they may leave at a moment’s notice. This could leave you in a worse position, with a damaging leadership gap and potentially destabilizing your whole company.

On average it takes 76 days to replace an executive position after an unexpected leave. With only a 3 days notice period on average, getting an executive search firm to do a confidential search for your replacement in the background is the only real way you can get your sensitive search concluded while avoiding the current standing executive leaving at a bad time.

When a Whole Leadership Teams Needs to be Built

Trying to build a brand new presence, factory, or expand a branch of your business overseas? Will you need a whole new leadership team, from a President of the Americas/Europe/AMEA, a VP of sales, VP of marketing and VP of HR, and more… at once? Building these teams from the ground up is an extremely daunting task for a business. 

Executive search firms can establish whole search teams to perform a global or regional search on your behalf.  Using their regional and industry expertise to find the talent to make that happen and offload the burden of finding the skills to build that team.  Ensuring that your current leadership who wants to make this move doesn’t get overloaded and can focus on their ongoing duties. Want help conducting your executive Search Or connected to a globally present executive search firm? Contact me. And I can connect you to a search consultant in your niche and region to best meet your business needs.

Learn more like this in my executive search blog.

Robert S Travis About Me page

Need Expert Executive Search Help?

As a Managing Partner at Boyden, I can provide you with personal assistance, introduce you to another partner, or assemble a specialized global search team who would be best suited to assist you and your organization with the specific executive search needs.

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