Category: Advice

What is an Executive Search Firm?

What is an Executive Search Firm?

There are many recruitment generalists and specialists in today’s market, all of them trying to differentiate themselves from each other.  One method of recruitment is Executive Search or more informally, headhunting,  which is typically used to source candidates for strategically important ,very specialised roles including CEO, CFO, COO, HRD, and CIO.

Executive Search firms are typically commissioned by a company or organisation to research, engage, interview and present suitable candidates for a specified key senior level position.  The Executive Search Consultant will very likely have several years’ industry experience as well as recruitment experience.

The Process

Executive Search is a research-led approach, meaning a search firm will be paid a retainer fee upfront to carry out a Priority Search and extensive market mapping to analyse the marketplace and benchmark for skills and salaries.   They will tend to have an extensive network of and access to board directors and senior executives within their industry sector, allowing them to cultivate a large pool of top executive talent.

Firstly, the Executive Search Consultant will meet with the client to find out what they are looking for and to understand the brief, which would include responsibilities, goals, culture, location, compensation offered and key challenges for the position.  After creating a search strategy, individuals from competitors of similar businesses will be identified and confidentially approached to determine if they would be either interested in the opportunity or indeed know of anyone who would benefit from hearing about the role.  The Executive Search Consultant will act as a confidential intermediary during the process of initial screening, arranging interviews with the client, briefing of both client and candidates, negotiations on remuneration and finalising the employment contract.

What is Retained or Priority Search?

A retained or Priority Search is generally used for difficult-to-fill, confidential and/or senior level roles that may be time critical.

The up-front, retained fee covers the time, experience, and expertise of the executive search firm / consultant. Typically, the fees are around 30% of the first year’s salary for the role.  There may be additional costs if the role includes a company car or guaranteed bonus.  Fee payments can be made in thirds – 1/3 of fee paid at the beginning of the search, 1/3 paid on presentation of shortlist of candidates and the final 1/3 upon placement of the candidate.  Some Executive Search firms also offer fixed fees, capping their fee at an agreed level with the client.  The fee is only charged to the client and not the candidate.

What are the benefits of Executive Search?

Delivering solutions, not CV’s.

  • An executive search firm will find senior level talent to match the specific needs of your company, recognising the goals you need to accomplish as a business and ensuring the candidates presented would be able to help you achieve this.

An objective Approach

  • Executive search firms can help you think creatively to find the right people for your key strategic roles. Sometimes it can be all too easy to only recruit people who have the same profile and experience as their predecessor. Using Executive Search firms with their wealth of industry knowledge and advice, can help you move away from making the same mistakes, ensuring you make the best hiring decisions.

Approaching candidates who are not looking to make a move

  • An Executive Search firm can approach relevant, targeted candidates on your behalf who are not actually looking to make a career change and present the opportunity and benefits of the role confidentially. In this way, all potential candidates are considered, not just the ones who are currently seeking a new opportunity.

Becoming your company’s ambassador

  • By acting as an extension, the executive search firm will promote your company in a positive, accurate and honest light.  Every conversation with potential candidates, will endorse your organisation, from initial contact, right through to ensuring unsuccessful candidates are treated with respect and feeling positive about your company going forwards.

Tapping into years of industry knowledge, network and experience.

  • The Executive Search Consultant will have access to a large network of otherwise inaccessible industry-leading candidates by mapping the market and benchmarking for particular skills, roles and compensation packages.
  • They will have an in-depth understanding of the market, industry trends and sector knowledge. They will listen, advise, and talk through what your needs are and agree with you the best strategic hiring approach.

In Conclusion

Your executive search company must be a trusted partner.   This relies on you having complete confidence they understand your business and will represent you to potential candidates in the best possible way. 

At Mosaic Search & Selection our dedicated team search tirelessly through our national and global network to find you the very best talent.  Specialising for over 20 years in the Publishing, Financial Services and Business Process Outsourcing sectors, we can tailor a successful executive search project around your senior level recruitment needs.  We would welcome an initial chat with you to identify how we can help.  Click here to contact us, we’d love to hear from you.



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