In today’s fast-paced and dynamic business environment, finding the right senior talent is more critical than ever. An executive team or team member can make or mar a company, and this can make the process of finding the perfect executive team member for a company extremely intense and daunting. To ensure your senior leadership team has the right people, a good executive search has to be done. But what exactly makes for a good executive search?

First, What is an Executive Search?

Executive search is a specialized recruitment process of finding, attracting, and hiring highly skilled talents for top-level executive positions in a company. The people who take on these roles will become senior leaders responsible for the strategic direction and success of the company. Executive roles include management positions like Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Chief Technical Officer (CTO), Co-founder, Chief Operating Officer (COO), etc.

The process of an executive search is carried out by an executive search firm, also called a headhunter or headhunting firm. Usually, companies develop long-term partnerships with an executive search firm. This way we then act as the company’s proxy, seeking the perfect candidates for the executive roles and company.

Why is an Executive Search Necessary?

The process of an executive search is different from recruiting junior talent. Usually, when companies are hiring for junior roles, they work with recruitment agencies. The candidate who is eventually hired, usually, is someone who was actively seeking a job and applied for the position. However, in the case of an executive search, the best talents are rarely seeking a new job. This is where an executive search comes in.

Executive search firms provide specialized expertise, resources, and networks to identify and attract top talent for these positions. Executive roles are critical to a company’s success and need to be held by talents with a high level of skill and expertise. So, by working with an executive search firm we can ensure thorough and confidential search processes to ensure that the best candidates are found and recruited for the roles.

How is a Good Executive Search done?

Companies typically carry out an executive search by partnering with a headhunting firm that helps them attract and engage the best senior talents most suitable for the role and the company’s needs.

A good executive search process starts with building a lasting relationship with the right search firm. This relationship would help us understand the needs of the company, and help us develop a strategy that will ensure that we present the client with the best talents for the executive roles.

Executive search isn’t a process that can be rushed and finalized in little time. A good and effective executive search follows due process, and that can take some time.

There are six key steps involved in a good executive search process, they are:

1. Understanding the company’s needs and position requirements

The best candidate for an executive role is someone who is a perfect match for both the position and the company’s culture. The only way to find this perfect match is to first understand what the company needs. Members of our staff will meet with relevant members of the company to gather the necessary information about the position, all its requirements, and the overall goals of the company.

Understanding the company’s needs involves understanding the company’s culture and values, business objectives and vision, and the role the executive is expected to play in achieving those objectives and bringing the vision to reality. The needs of the company will in turn inform our search priorities. Establishing search priorities involves determining the skills, knowledge, and abilities required for the role and the company’s needs, and thinking creatively about what new angles and ideas an incoming executive might bring to the table.

Once priorities have been established, a customized brief would be developed for the position. This brief would contain a detailed candidate specification that outlines the job’s description, goals, and key challenges, as well as the experience, qualifications, and skills required for success. This specification will serve as a guide for the search process and help to filter out unqualified candidates. Once the company’s needs and search priorities are identified, the next step in the process can be taken.

2. Developing a customized search strategy

After understanding the company’s needs and developing a job brief, the next step is to develop an effective personalized search strategy. This involves conducting targeted research into companies and sectors to locate talents with the relevant qualifications, experience, and skills needed for the role.

A good search strategy involves thoroughly researching potential candidates. This can include leveraging databases and existing industry networks or contacting search firms to assist and recruit individuals who are a good fit for the role and company. by working with a recruitment agency you can have access to extensive industry networks, knowledge, and expertise, and this gives you access to a wide pool of exceptional executive talent.

3. Selection and evaluation of candidates

Once a list of potential candidates has been developed, the next step is to contact these prospects, and engage and qualify them. This typically involves phone and in-person interviews, reviewing resumes and other materials, and conducting background checks to confirm that the candidate’s experience and qualifications match the role and the company’s needs.

At this point, you also want to test their level of interest in the role. Since the candidates are not actively applying for the job it is important to learn what their interests are as well as their current life/business situation. This will then help attract them and with the negotiation.

4. Interviewing the most qualified candidates

Once interested prospects are identified, it’s time to conduct thorough competency-based and technical interviews to evaluate them. This means asking questions that directly relate to the experience, skills, knowledge, and other qualifications outlined in the position specification. Depending on the role, this might involve asking about leadership/management experience, problem-solving skills, or specific programming languages, among other things. It is pertinent to ask open-ended questions that allow candidates to showcase their abilities and provide detailed accounts of their past experiences.

During the interview process, a variety of assessment tools are used to evaluate a candidate’s executive skills, strengths, weaknesses, personality traits, workplace values, and overall fit for the role and company.

If you carry out your executive search in-house, it is important to maintain a professional attitude throughout, your candidates are evaluating you just as much as you are evaluating them.

Apart from conducting interviews, it is crucial to verify the educational history and academic qualifications of potential candidates. It can also help to contact their references for outside perspectives. This would give further understanding about the candidate and validate their accomplishments and past performance, ultimately lowering the possibility of hiring an unsuitable candidate.

5. Present the most qualified candidates for client interview

Once qualified and interested candidates have been shortlisted, the next step is to present the most qualified candidates to the client for further interviews and evaluations. At this point, we will present the company with the most qualified candidates based on analysis and assessment against the job requirements.

After candidates have been thoroughly vetted by the interview process, a final candidate is agreed upon for hiring.

6. Completing the search process

A good executive search doesn’t just end at finding and selecting the right candidate for the role. The job then must be offered to the selected candidate in an attractive way, and negotiations are done in a way that the contract is favorable for both the candidate and the client. Negotiations include talking about compensation, start date, and work schedule amongst others.

Regarding compensation, there are different factors to consider, like salary, bonuses, benefits, and equity. An understanding of the industry standards will provide insight into compensation that is reasonable and appropriate. In addition to compensation, other terms like start date, relocation assistance, work schedule, or any other necessary terms are also concluded, to ensure that both the client and candidate are on the same page.

Even after negotiations have been completed and the candidate has accepted the offer, being in touch during the transition process is essential. This involves communicating regularly or periodically with the company to ensure that everything is going smoothly with the transition and that any issues that arise are dealt with promptly. We can also provide support and give advice to the candidate and the company if need be.

Finding the Right Executive Search Firm

The executive search firm you choose to partner with can have a significant impact on your company’s success. A well-executed executive search can help you identify and attract senior talent that can drive growth and innovation in your company. However, partnering with the wrong search firm can lead to wasted time, resources, and eventually, a failed executive search.

There are some factors to consider when searching for the right headhunting firm for your company.

Industry expertise: It is advisable to work with a firm that has experience in your industry and understands the challenges and opportunities that come with it. A firm that understands your industry’s needs can help you find candidates with the right skills, experience, and cultural fit for your company.

Track Record: It is important to work with a firm that has a good reputation and a proven track record of hiring senior talents that align with their client’s needs and culture. You can check our references or case studies that demonstrate our success in executive search.

The search process, team & resources: Look for a firm that has a meticulous and well-structured approach to an executive search. Ask about the firm’s search process and methodology to be sure it is a good fit for your company. Also, look for a firm with adequate resources, and experienced staff who can provide the needed support during the search process.

Cultural fit & cost: Finding a firm that understands your company’s culture and values is important. A good search firm will take the time to understand your company’s unique culture and work to identify candidates who will fit in well with your team. Also, confirm that the search firm’s costs and payment plan are within your budget and work for you.

In Summary

An executive search is crucial to the growth and success of any company. Executive roles are delicate and the people who hold them have to be qualified for the role and fit for the company. Good executive search follows due process, from finding and attracting top-level talent to ensuring their smooth transition into their role and the company, and the surest way to ensure this is by working with a top-notch headhunting firm.

The importance of partnering with the right executive search firm cannot be overemphasized as it can make or break the executive search, and ultimately the company. If you are looking to fill up executive positions, here at Higher Talent we can become your trusted partner for all your HR needs. We ensure that we conduct a thorough executive search for our clients by understanding each client’s needs and developing a personalized strategy best suited for their business goals and company culture.

Contact us today to talk about how we can help you get the best senior talents in your industry to help you take your company to its peak. You can also reach out if there are any HR issues you need professional help with!