Is Executive Search the Dream Answer to Your Senior Recruitment Nightmares?

Like any industry, recruitment has its own terminology and buzzwords. These words, when used without context, can often cause confusion for those simply trying to invest in the best service and compare like with like

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Why are you considering executive search? Have you tried all sorts of other methods to recruit your critical vacancy but failed? Is executive search your last resort, do you believe in it or are you left with no other options? Is executive search a magic wand? What is it anyway?

I have been an executive search consultant for the past 18 years and have seen how the industry has evolved over quite a long period of time. In 1998 I joined a retained executive search consultancy focused on appointing senior and junior commercial roles for clients in the European healthcare and telecommunications industries. Believe it or not, the internet provided no value in executive search at that time, LinkedIn didn’t exist nor did online job boards or any kind of social media that we use to network or attract candidates today. Our service offering was really search (headhunting) and advertising led selection and I would say 60% was advertising and 40% headhunting. Advertising was so easy at that time. There was a captive audience as there were so few mediums to advertise jobs in and everyone knew to pick up a copy of the Daily Telegraph on a Thursday and the Sunday Times on a Sunday which would both be full of great senior leadership job opportunities. There would also be a handful of specialist trade press such as The New Scientist or The Grocer but it really was a focused portfolio of media that would provide a great return. Clients accepted investing a minimum of £6,000 in a Daily Telegraph advert plus the fees of an executive search consultancy because we could guarantee it would solve their problem. Imagine paying £6,000 for a one-off job advert today.

As the world of digital media has grown and the methods of attracting talent have become more complicated, executive search has stepped up to help companies to explore the active and passive job markets. Active being a small pool of candidates who have decided to move on and are actively applying for jobs, passive being a much larger talent audience that are happy in the jobs they have but whose skills, experience and behaviours are sought by employers.

Active candidates can be attracted through online advertising, from a robust candidate pool or by using contingency recruitment agencies. They can provide short-term solutions to “put a bum on a seat” and alleviate the short-term pain you suffer when someone resigns.

Passive candidates, on the other hand, need to be identified, engaged and courted before we are able to introduce the idea of new job opportunities to them. This requires a proactive strategy that can be delivered by an effective executive search partner. Retained executive search needs to be the start of your solution and not considered as a magic wand when all else fails. It is a strategic approach that requires a considerable investment of your time and money and so needs serious consideration.

So, considering the needs of your own business, where do you think your ideal candidates are? Are you looking for candidates from the active or passive job market?

If the answer is the passive market then executive search could be the dream answer to your recruitment nightmares.

About the author
Doug Mackay
5 min read

Having started his career in Executive Search in 1998, Doug set up Collingwood in 2005 alongside his wife, Claire Mackay.

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