Using Executive Search to Find Your Next Business Leaders

5 Minutes

When it comes to finding the right talent to fill vacant positions, there are few roles that are as difficult to hire for as executive jobs. Highly sought-after candidates at this level can be few and far between and those who are around are often either in demand or not actively looking to move from their current job. Management, board and senior level positions are frequently held for many years, so top tier candidates are on the market far less often than their more junior counterparts.

One crucial tool that can help combat this and find the right person at the right time is executive search. Missing the chance to recruit top talent, especially when they go to or remain with a competitor, can be a real blow to the company’s prospects, so it pays to get it right. It’s not just a case of identifying the best candidates, but also persuading them to leave their current role and join your business.

Before beginning your hunt, it’s important to understand what executive search recruitment is and when it should be used. Find out everything you need to know with our executive search guide.


What is Executive Search?

Colloquially known as headhunting, executive search is a specialist recruitment approach that specifically targets talent at the top. It’s frequently used to identify the best candidates for senior and management roles, along with specialised technical jobs, where candidates are often in high demand and hard to come by. These recruiters work differently, identifying and approaching the best candidates directly, rather than advertising an open position and waiting to receive applications.

Specialist executive search consultants usually handle this high-pressure process for companies, rather than relying on an internal recruiter. This is due to the more specialised nature of the task, the large resources required and the research tools and experience they have.

While other forms of recruitment rely on jobseekers actively approaching recruiters to be put forward for open roles, executive search recruiters take a more proactive approach, going out of their way to find and contact the best possible recruits, many of whom will not be actively looking for a new position at that time. It’s all about identifying, approaching and convincing someone that your company is the place they want to be.


How Does Executive Search Work?

The executive search process starts when a business contacts the specialist recruiter requesting assistance for finding someone to fill a senior position. It’s important that the executive search consultants have a good understanding of what the client needs. This includes the nature of the role and its requirements, along with desired relevant experience, skills and character – your new appointment needs to be able to slot in to your company culture as well as its operational flow.

Once this is complete, they will then identify a pool of potential candidates. This is mainly done using an extensive network of contacts built up through the years, as well as the use of detailed research across company websites, LinkedIn and other related platforms. Some executive search recruiters may also already have a big database of professionals they’ve contacted previously that they can use.

When one or more suitable candidates are found, the recruiter will firstly approach them to gauge their level of interest, before deciding whether to progress any further. In most cases, the recruiter will meet with a candidate to explain the role, looking to wow them with the opportunity, as well as seeking to find out more information about them and better assess their skills and character. If they are deemed a good fit, then an interview will be arranged with the business.


Differences Between Executive Search and Recruitment

Deciding whether to go down the executive search or recruitment route will depend on your company’s needs and situation. If you require someone to step into the role quickly, then traditional recruitment could be the best option. Make sure the recruiters are aware of the urgency and set a deadline to speed up the process.

When time is of less concern and your focus is on finding and bringing in the best candidate possible for an impactful executive role, executive search will be more appropriate. As more research and resource to ensure potential interviewees are a good fit is required, it takes longer, but should be beneficial in the long run.


Important Times to Consider Using Executive Search Consultants

Executive roles tend to become available far less often than junior roles, because the people in them are committed for the long-term. Given the nature of these positions, when they do come up it can be harder to fill them, with many requiring rare skillsets and specific experience. This is where executive search consultants can levy their own skills, digging deep to uncover that perfect candidate who fits the bill.

It may also be the case that your business is growing rapidly and needs to create some new executive positions to help keep up momentum, or it could be that your company is undergoing a time of change, seeking out a fresh approach and a new dynamic direction. Diversifying the senior leadership team in such a case can bring a new lease of life to the company.


Advantages of Executive Search

Along with finding and recruiting the best possible candidate, there are various other advantages of executive search, including:

  • Offering a discrete route to hiring, making it easier to find replacements if an executive is still in the role
  • Avoiding damaging relationships with partners or competitors if approaching one of their current employees
  • Access to a large network of executives
  • Providing an alternative route if your personal and company networks offer no viable candidates
  • Speeding up the process if your existing recruitment is taking too long


Explore executive recruitment with Pareto and find your next top-level recruit with ease. With a network of more than 50,000 sales leaders and a 12-month free replacement guarantee, securing your next great business leader has never been more accessible.


Looking to strengthen your Business?

Let's Talk