3 Strategies Executive Search Firms Use to Find Top Talent

Finding the next great executive to join your C-suite is drastically different from hiring a salesperson, cybersecurity architect, or even a project manager. While all of these positions are essential and allow individuals to make meaningful contributions to the organization, executive leaders are responsible for decisions that have a broader impact on the organization. Their experience, skills, and vision can determine the future direction of the company.

Additionally, executive search is a task in-house recruiting professionals perform less frequently. They may place dozens of qualified candidates throughout the organization annually and become quite skilled in doing so successfully. However, the process of finding a top executive is unique and places many hiring managers outside their area of expertise. When it comes to executive search, many companies choose to hire an executive search firm.

Why Choose an Executive Search Firm?

  • Fill a Vital Role – Organizations thrive or falter primarily due to the decisions made by executives at the helm. They make key decisions about company direction, policies, and initiatives and set the tone for the company culture that filters down through every level of the organization.
  • Leverage Expertise – Executive recruiters typically specialize in a single industry. They know the skills needed to be successful as an executive and who the top leaders in a given field are.
  • Enlarge the Candidate Pool – Even well-established companies have a limited number of contacts with the skills to lead a corporation. Hiring the best person for the job requires expanding the search to include skilled individuals known and unknown to the organization.
  • Enhance Confidentiality – Executive search requires a higher degree of confidentiality. Many qualified individuals may already be employed somewhere else, and word of them taking a new position could have repercussions. Recruiters’ calls and meetings to gauge interest can be kept quiet and private.
  • Free-up Resources – The time to hire for an executive position is, on average, longer for an executive position. Because the person hired will have the potential to impact the organization significantly, being thorough throughout the hiring process is essential. Professional recruiters can take the lead on this longer search, enabling your in-house team to focus on filling other positions within the organization.
  • Proven Methods – Executive search requires a unique approach to identifying candidates and determining who has the right skills for the process. Experienced executive search companies have tried and true practices that help their clients find the right candidate to lead their organization.

How do executive search firms find candidates?

Just as no two companies are exactly the same, every executive search agency will have its own approach to executive recruitment and placement. However, there are underlying practices that universally prove helpful and are commonly used.

1. Research

Leading recruiters have a lengthy list of contacts within their given area of expertise. Between past placements, current candidates, and industry contacts, they often know individuals who are a good fit for open leadership positions. While this is an excellent place to start and may return an ideal candidate, looking beyond the list of current contacts is wise.

Knowing how essential a skilled C-suite leader is to an organization, top recruiters take the time to research the industry and others in similar positions. They come to understand what skills are necessary. They identify thought leaders in the space and pay close attention to names that surface over and over. These top performers may not be interested in a change, but they can lead recruiters to other top professionals.

2. Passive Candidates

Competition for top talent can be fierce. And most often, the best are simply not on the market. They are gainfully employed and engaged in their work. Approaching candidates like these who are not currently looking but may be tempted by an excellent opportunity is one of the best ways to find a top candidate.

Executive recruiters excel at approaching candidates to gauge their interest in a change of employment. As a neutral third party in the transaction, they can help maintain privacy and confidentiality for these passive candidates.

3. Connections

Social media is a top tool used by many in-house and professional job recruiters. Checking application information against an applicant’s Facebook or LinkedIn account can be a great way to vet the information and learn more about them. However, top company leaders may not be as active on these social media platforms. Their leadership responsibilities can leave them little time to update their profile or interact with other industry professionals.

Learning about C-suite professionals is done more easily through person-to-person interactions and conversations. Recruiters who regularly interact with their professional contacts have reliable sources of information about others in the industry. These individuals may be able to make recommendations and provide personal insight about other professionals. This network of professionals can be invaluable in identifying candidates for a leadership role.

Choosing Your Partner

The success of your executive placement will significantly depend on the skills and abilities of those performing the search. Choosing the right recruiting firm to help you find a great executive to lead your organization is just as important as the search they will perform. Look for a firm whose recruiting professionals specialize in recruiting for your industry and have years of experience in recruitment for c-suite positions. Their expertise can make all the difference in your organization for years to come.