Category: Advice

What is Executive Search?


What is Executive Search?

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 used to source candidates for senior management, executive or very specialised roles.

Executive Recruitment Agencies are typically commissioned by a company / organisation to research, source, interview and present suitable candidates for a specified position. The Executive Search Consultant will very likely have several years’ industry experience as well as recruitment experience. Consultants may also proactively help manage the career of individuals. This typically involves contacting potential employers on the candidate’s behalf to present their skills and experience, allowing an individual to change employees confidentially.

The Process

After meeting the client to ascertain what they are looking for and to understand the brief, the Executive Search Consultant will identify and confidentially approach individuals from competitors or similar businesses to find out if they would be either interested in this position or indeed know of anyone who would benefit from hearing about the role.  The Consultant will act as an intermediary during this process of initial screening, arranging of interviews with the client, briefing of both client and candidates, negotiations on remuneration and the employment contract.

Types of Executive Search

Retained or Priority Search:

Executive Search companies generally work on a retained basis i.e. they will receive an up-front fee for senior level positions. The fee covers the time, experience and expertise of the 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.  This method is generally used for difficult-to-fill, confidential and/or senior level roles that may be time critical.

Exclusive Contingency Search:

Designed to fulfil both individual search assignments and ongoing, lower priority roles where speed of hire is not quite so urgent.  The final fee, again typically 30% of the annual salary, is paid on acceptance of offer.

Find out how Mosaic Search & Selection 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.  Contact us or Call 01242 239147 or email

Share article

You may also be
interested in...

Category: Advice

How to Interview Passive Candidates: A Guide for Interviewers

Passive candidates represent a goldmine of opportunity for companies seeking senior level leaders.  These individuals, though not actively seeking new…

Read More

Category: Advice

Key Questions to ask Senior Level Candidates at Interviews

Recruiting senior-level executives is a critical task for any organisation. These leaders not only shape the strategic direction but also…

Read More