8 circumstances that require an executive search firm

By Robert Half 7th September 2017

Making a bad hire in your C-suite can have disastrous consequences. There’s an art to finding qualified, top-performing executives and the nation-wide skills shortage can only make the process far longer and far tougher.

When the cost of not filling an executive role has negative ramifications on the success of your business and the well-being of an entire department, do you really want to take the risk of resorting to quick, low cost alternatives like posting a job ad, scouring LinkedIn or hiring a contingency recruiter?

If you’re assessing all your options, here are the reasons that a retained executive search firm may be worth the investment.

What is an executive search firm?

An executive search firm is a recruitment company that specialises in sourcing high quality candidates for executive roles. They differ from contingency search firms in both their approach to candidate sourcing and how closely they work with the client.

Because they are ‘retained’, executive search firms work exclusively with the client, taking the time to assess existing talent within the business and to understand the company culture and facets of the role.

Retained search firms typically use very sophisticated vetting techniques and class a successful placement on the longevity of the employee within a role and how large a contribution that employee makes to the company as a whole.

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Why work with a retained executive search firm?

Retained search firm fees are usually higher than the fees of a contingency firm, so it helps to understand what you’re getting for your money before you commit to working with them.

1) Access to a high-quality network of executive professionals

If you’ve blown through your list of referrals and network connections and still aren’t able to find an executive candidate that ticks all the boxes, it may be time to call in an executive search firm.

Many retained executive search firms have a global network of contacts across various industries, meaning that the pool of talent they have access to is far larger, far more exclusive and of a far higher quality.

2) Some positions are too important not to invest in

The implications of a bad hire so far up the managerial chain are huge; our research shows that four in 10 (39%) employees feel they aren’t being managed well, leading to staff turnover increasing by a third in the last three years.

Top retained search firms are well practiced in understanding the rare skills mix needed for a C-suite position and can easily identify the right fit, be this via an internal hire or an external candidate.

3) You don’t have the in-house resources

Assessing candidate CVs properly takes time. Scan-reading can mean you lose some of the more intricate details and often don’t get enough time to look through them properly. Search firms deal with CV assessment every day, so know what to look for in a strong CV, including hard skills, soft skills and personality.

4) Fill the knowledge gap and gain better diversity

If you’re recruiting for a position that has been newly created or isn’t within your area of expertise, top headhunters have the specialist skills to help fill that knowledge gap.

According to the Leaders 2020 study conducted by SAP and Oxford Economics, diversity is an issue with senior executives and corporate boards. Executive search firms will conduct original research on all candidates, which in turn brings far great diversity into top-level roles and avoids any unconscious biases that may be held in-house.

5) You want long-term employees

Unlike a contingency hiring firm, who count a hired employee as a success, retained executive search firms calculate success based on the contribution and longevity of their employees.

Several candidates may have the necessary skills on paper, but an executive firm will be able to tell which candidate has the right potential for long-term success and will ultimately contribute to the business’ future growth.

6) When discretion is paramount

There are occasions in which ultimate discretion is needed, such as hiring a replacement when an executive is still in the role. By outsourcing the task, you’re relieved of workplace secrecy but still have all the control, trust and transparency of having the job taken care of by someone impartial.

7) Avoid damaging relationships with partner companies or competitors

Hiring through an executive search firm is a good way to avoid damaging relationships with businesses that you often work with, or causing tension with a competitor. Hiring from the same pool of talent becomes far less complex when working through a discreet, impartial third party.

8) Succession planning to future-proof your C-suite

Being prepared for every eventuality is crucial for business stability. Unexpected resignations can cause unwanted disruption within teams and hinder how successful you are at reaching goals.

Hiring an executive search firm to come in and assess your workforce is a reliable way to get a fuller picture of the in-house talent you already have and also lets you know which options are available to you externally.

Get in touch with our retained executive search division today and let us help you find quality talent quickly and efficiently.

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