8 Ways to maximise your return when investing in an Executive Search partner

Far too often we receive enquiries from companies in distress because they have a critical role they need to recruit but can't. They have usually done everything to attract their sought after candidate and have failed with each. They then think Executive Search is their golden ticket to success. They don't really want to retain or invest in an Executive Search Consultancy but feel they haven't been left with any other option and so decide to go for it. They feel like they are putting a lot of money on red on a roulette wheel.

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There is usually a reason that the company has failed to recruit their critical role and it is usually in respect to the "tick box" they have developed with everything a candidate needs to have in order to receive a job offer. It is likely that the company has been told that their "tick box" isn't possible to be 100% ticked but, nonetheless, as it isn't what they want to hear they change recruitment partner and continue.

Executive Search can be a great way to identify, attract and engage with the talent your business needs but we recommend that you do the following to maximise your return on the investment you are making;


  1. Don't use Executive Search as the last resort

Please do your research and talk to recruitment consultancies to understand their approach and whether it will deliver what you want. Executive Search is not a quick solution. A "proper" Executive Search firm will not be shortlisting amazing candidates inside a week of you briefing them. That solution is called contingency database recruitment and will present you with the candidates that are proactively searching for a new job at that time.


  1. Choose an Executive Search partner who has the experience you need

Do your due diligence. Think about the experience your partner should have. Should they have a working experience of recruiting in your industry? Do they need to be located in the geography that you are recruiting? Do they need to have recruited the role that you need them to recruit? Will they need to rely on their professional network or are you happy for them to deliver based on a robust process that they can demonstrate to you?


  1. Expect to have to invest your own time in the process

If you genuinely want to invest in a true Executive Search consultancy then you should be prepared to invest time talking to and collaborating with your partner. Recruitment isn't a perfect black and white process that always produces the exact result that you want. Executive Search should be a process that gathers a lot of market intelligence that should be used to make decisions. Without talking to, listening to and collaborating with your Executive Search partner you are unlikely to enjoy the same outcome that you could if you did. If you want to provide a brief and then wait for a few weeks for your fully qualified shortlist of amazing candidates to arrive then I suggest you will be disappointed.


  1. Soak up the market intelligence

Aside from finding candidates, your Executive Search partner should have a whole host of intelligence to share with you. Remember, they are talking to your industry and a lot of key and influential people in it specifically for your recruitment project. Whether it be competitor information, industry trends or feedback on your employer brand, there is very valuable information for you to gain and feed into your strategic discussions. The process could also help you to build a talent pipeline for the future. Open your mind and embrace the value of market data.


  1. Don't have a tick box, have an open mind

We quite often find that clients start with a specific brief but end up recruiting a candidate that will add even more value. Approaching an executive search process with an open mind on where it could take you will deliver even more value.


  1. Trust the process

A good Executive Search partner should be able to demonstrate their robust process. They should have a consistent way to delight their clients no matter how easy or challenging your recruitment brief is. Get them to show you how they have delivered other briefs.

  1. Expect transparency

We speak to too many companies who haven't a clue what their recruitment partner is doing or has done for them. The least you deserve for your investment is to see evidence of what they have done for you. We provide our clients with an online portal that gives them access to all our research. This is the least you should expect.


  1. Can your partner demonstrate resilience and relentlessness?

Recruitment needs a lot of resilience. It also needs total commitment and a relentless approach to solve problems and break through obstacles to deliver the desired solution. Recruitment is very challenging currently with near full employment and huge employer demand to grow their teams with outstanding talent. Unless your recruitment partner is committed to delight you no matter what then they may give up when an easier assignment comes in. Some challenging recruitment briefs could take over a year to deliver. You need to be satisfied that your chosen partner will still be there to even when the going gets tough.

Recruitment is one of the single biggest investments you can make in your business so please give it the time and attention it deserves. Cheap is not necessarily a positive approach to recruitment but I guess you get what you pay for!


For more information on executive search and the value it will add to your company’s recruitment strategy, feel free to check out our Executive Search Consulting page

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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