Executive search is a specialized field that involves recruiting and hiring executives for private companies. It’s not as simple as posting an ad and waiting for applications to roll in. In fact, executive recruiters spend hours networking to source potential candidates, prepare detailed job postings, conduct reference checks, and more to successfully launch a new search assignment. Whether you’re just dipping your toes into the world of executive search or are looking to hone your skills further, this guide will help you succeed with your next assignment. We’ll explore common challenges that executive recruiters face during their searches and best practices for mitigating risk and streamlining processes.
Networking is key
The best candidates will not apply for your job listing, but instead will be discovered by you through networking and referrals. Making connections and engaging with individuals both online and offline will open up a whole new world of talent. While it may seem counterintuitive to focus on networking when you need to get a job done, you’ll likely find that investing in relationships now will pay dividends later. You never know when you’ll need a referral or be in a position to help someone else out. Keep in mind that there are many ways to network effectively—you don’t have to be an extrovert to excel. While face-to-face interactions are ideal, they aren’t always possible. Executive recruiters have many options, such as attending industry conferences, joining industry groups online, using tools like executive search software and tapping into your network of colleagues, friends, and family members.
Know your audience
The very first thing you need to do is understand the role and the company you’re hiring for. As a recruiter, you’re not only hiring a person, but also the strength and reputation of their network. Therefore, it’s crucial that you research the industry to make sure your target candidates will find your role and organization a compelling opportunity. Don’t just look at the job description and job title. Instead, dig into the company as a whole. What are their core values? What does their work culture look like? What type of revenue are they bringing in? It’s also important to understand what makes this executive stand out. What are their achievements and accolades? What skills and experience do they bring to the table?
Conduct effective reference checks
Pictures can paint a thousand words, but they can’t replace reference checks. In fact, a survey conducted by the Association of Executive Search Consultants found that 73% of organizations source candidates through referrals. While networking and referrals are extremely valuable, they also introduce a degree of risk. What if the candidate’s network is biased or only includes people who are unqualified? What if your contact is trying to help a friend by giving a false reference? Make sure to follow up on the references provided by your candidate’s network. Otherwise, you run the risk of hiring someone who may not be a good fit for your organization. When conducting reference checks, you should ask the following questions: Did you work with this person? What was the nature of your relationship with this person? Did this relationship end on good terms? Are there any potential red flags in this person’s background that may affect their ability to perform their job at your company?
Set a deadline for receiving applications
There’s no doubt about it—executive searches are time-consuming and often drawn-out affairs. According to a survey of executives published by the Wall Street Journal, 40% of executives applied for a job at least one year before they were actually hired. With such long timelines to fill roles, why not set a deadline for applications? Deadlines are a great way to streamline your search process. They help you keep everything on track and manage your internal stakeholders. Deadlines also allow you to start the hiring process earlier and find the candidates who will best fit your position. You can set a deadline in a number of ways—you can choose a specific date, you can set it based off the length of a certain contract, or you can include it along with the job posting. Whatever you choose, make sure to be consistent.
Determining compensation and perks
You’ve done your research and have a few candidates in mind for the position. Now, it’s time to determine the best compensation and perks for the role. Compensation will vary from role to role, but there are a few things you should keep in mind when determining the best package for your organization. First, take a look at what other companies in your industry are paying for similar roles. You can also research compensation data from organizations like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Glassdoor to see what your peers are paying for the same type of work. Next, you’ll want to consider the cost of living in the area where you’re hiring. How much does it cost to live in the city you’re sourcing candidates from? In other words, what do people need to earn to get by? Finally, take into consideration any other perks that are important to your role, like equity, paid time off, or matching 401k contributions.
Implementing executive search software
When you’re juggling a number of large search assignments, it can be helpful to use executive search software to keep track of everything. There are a number of different platforms available, but it’s important to find one that is tailored to your specific needs. Some companies have taken things one step further and built platforms that can be used by both clients and recruiters. Recruiterflow’s Executive Search Platform (ESP) is one example of this. It allows you to source candidates, post assignments, and collaborate with clients from one central location.
Executive search is a complex process that requires both patience and diligence. That said, it often pays off in the form of high-quality hires that are well-suited for the position. By following the tips laid out in this guide, you’ll be well on your way to launching your next executive search and bringing high-caliber candidates into your organization.