When should you start recruiting a Board or Senior Level appointment?

This article explores some realistic scenarios to help you make the difficult decision on when to start the hiring process.

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As an executive search firm specialising in Board and Senior level roles, our services are invested in when clients need to make such a hire. However, a common question that we get asked by our clients, is “when we should start the recruitment process?”. Below are some scenarios where we have advised that a client should start the hiring process:


  • Leadership Transition: When a senior leader resigns it is critically important that a robust process is undertaken to ensure the least amount of disruption whilst also taking the opportunity to use this new hire to strengthen the leadership team. Whilst speed is important, the investment you put into creating a brief or a job description is more critical. It is also important not to assume that replacing the outgoing leader with someone identical or similar is what your business needs!


  • Succession Planning: This involves forward-thinking organisations actively participating in the identification of potential leaders for the future. Succession planning removes the problems you will face if a high performing leader decides to leave and you don’t have a ready made replacement internally. This can be avoided through long-term talent pipelining or internal talent development. Executive Search can provide a solution to succession planning by assessing current internal talent to identify gaps to be filled through recruitment.


  • Strategic Expansion: Expanding a business generally involves venturing into new sectors or industries. To be successful with such a growth strategy usually requires the experience of a specialist from that industry and the networks or proactive recruitment process of Executive Search firms could provide the solution.


  • Industry Specific Expertise: If a company is looking for executives with specific skills or industry expertise, this can generally take longer than most to identify. Allowing for as much time as possible to find this individual allows for a more targeted and thorough headhunt.


  • Performance Improvement: In situations where the board or leadership team believes that a change in leadership is necessary to improve organisational performance, an executive search process may be initiated.


  • Confidential Searches: In cases where a company needs to keep an executive search confidential, perhaps due to sensitive business situations or succession planning without causing disruption, they may turn to an executive search firm to maintain discretion.


In general, with most executive role headhunts, it is always best to start the search as soon as possible. The candidates in which executive search firms will be engaging with usually aren’t looking for new opportunities and as such it can take a while to engage such talent. Executive search isn’t about just filling a vacancy, but about adding real value to a business. All of this takes time to ensure the most amount of value is added so by giving Executive Search firms as much notice as possible it should result in the best outcome for all involved.


The average notice period of a senior leader is between 3 and 6 months and with a robust recruitment process of around 3 months to identify, entice and make an offer the total hiring time could be as much as 9 months. The earlier you start your recruitment process the better!


About the author
Callum Pepler
6 min read

Callum has been at Collingwood since November 2021 as an Executive Search Resourcer, helping to find potential talent for the consultants in several different industries including technology, building products and…

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