Why use an Executive Search Firm?

Pat O'Donnell, Managing Partner at Principal Connections explains the benefits of using an executive search firm.

According to numerous well documented studies, between 50 - 70% of executives fail inside their first 18 months in post. Hence why in times of change, a key executive-level hire can mean the difference between success and catastrophe. Last time, your company may have kept this important executive recruitment in-house, leveraged its own network, relied on an online advertisement or hired a contingency recruitment agency. But, mistakes were made and you now know that a poor appointment to a crucial position can have detrimental consequences that can take much time and expense to recover from.

This is where a retained executive search firm may come in. So what is an exec search firm? By definition, an executive search firm is a professional services company (informally called an executive headhunter) that specialises in identifying, evaluating and appointing executive-level management (and often other management, specialist, board and interim executives) for client companies across industries. Retained executive recruiting firms operate on an exclusive, client-centered basis and work only on a limited number of engagements at one time often with deep expertise in a client's industry. Partnering with an executive search firm is not just a one-time transaction - it’s a long-term relationship whereby the exec search firm is retained in an advisory capacity and is engaged in all aspects of the talent acquisition and executive recruitment process, from defining the parameters of the search through to candidate onboarding and integration. 

There are times when the advantages of a retained executive search outweigh all other options; here are the foremost reasons why a company retains an exec search firm in our experience.

Why use an Executive Search Firm?

1. It is critical to hire not just a qualified candidate, but a high performance candidate

Only a retained executive recruiting firm will pinpoint and persuade executives who are not actively looking, i.e. not ‘on the market’, delivering only candidates with the right mix of experience, skills and knowledge, along with the requisite cultural fit. Some retained exec search firms have a global network of contacts across various industries, meaning that the pool of talent they have access to is far larger, more exclusive and higher quality.

2. You are seeking a candidate with a rare mix of skills

Very few people are likely to be qualified for this position; the needle in a haystack metaphor comes to mind. Retained executive search agencies directly approach potential senior candidates who are currently employed and successful at target companies. 

3. When discretion is key

An executive recruitment decision is a sensitive thing on many levels. It is prudent to keep this information from the client’s competition, while being careful not to alienate customers and shareholders. Furthermore, the executive to be replaced should not become prematurely concerned. This confidentiality is appreciated by candidates and clients alike.

4. You are searching for an executive position that has just been created

When an exec search falls outside your area of expertise, it is important to plug the knowledge gap with a leader rich in domain know-how. An executive search agency will invest significant time and effort to get to know your organisation, its culture, the responsibilities and requirements of the position, all before initiating the search. They work with you on the needed skill set and advise on the right candidate profile to ensure the long term success of the new hire.

5. You are looking to broaden the senior leadership team’s diversity

Not all backgrounds are well-represented at senior executive levels. An executive search agency can help level the playing field by conducting proprietary research to ensure equal opportunity. The available pool of candidates seeking a given position is often rather homogeneous; an executive search consultant will work hard to broaden that pool by identifying, approaching and persuading candidates who are normally gainfully employed, but fit the required skills and bring the desired diversity to your leadership team.

6. You do not have the time or resources to take on an executive search yourself

If you already have too much to do and too little time, taking on an executive search can quickly become its own full-time job. A retained search firm engages in the entire due diligence process. Beyond the identification and presentation of candidates, a retained firm takes great care in assessing suitable candidates, often utilising the most sophisticated tools and methodologies. They support the integration and on-boarding of the candidate, and work to ensure the long-term success of the hire. 

7. You want to give your company a strategic advantage through better hires

Executive Search Consultants are in the business of delivering top performers i.e elite candidates. Hence they measure their success on the longevity of a placed executive’s role, and the impact of their contribution to the organisation as a whole. Executive Headhunters are therefore best positioned to help you trade up to a top performer who drives results.

8. 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 e.g. suppliers, partners etc., or causing tension with a competitor. Recruiting from the same pool of executive talent becomes far less complex when working through a discreet, impartial third party.

9. Succession planning to future-proof your leadership team

Being prepared for every eventuality is crucial for business stability. Unexpected resignations can cause unwanted disruption and hinder strategic delivery. 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 executive talent you already have or have coming through, and also lets you know which options are available to you externally.

For help with your next Executive Search

With offices in Dublin, London, Cork and Gaway, Principal Connections is one of the top executive search firms serving Ireland and the United Kingdom. Clients include large multinational corporations, small-to-medium enterprises, start-up and family-owned businesses, not-for-profit, semi-state and public-sector bodies. Principal Connections is also part of Agilium Worldwide LLC (est. 1984), ranked one of the top executive search firms globally with 55 offices across 30 countries.

For help with your next executive appointment or to discuss your executive talent needs, contact me on +353 (0)1 703 88 94 or  pat@principalconnections.ie; alternatively, you can also register your vacancy by clicking on the following Link