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How to Choose an Executive Search Firm

Organizations today are facing significant talent gaps, especially in C-level managerial positions. In fact, a recent survey showed that the number one business issue for most CEOs and other C-suite executives is attracting and retaining top talent, and rightly so.

A bad hire is incredibly costly to a business. The cost is measured in monetary terms and intangible items that cannot be quantified, such as reputation. A recent study done by the US department of labour found that a bad hire’s cost can go upwards of 30% of the employee’s first-year earnings.

Not only that, but in medium to large companies, the cost of bad hires stands at approximately $250,000 inclusive of hiring, pay, and retention. Additionally, 74% of companies in the survey that made bad hires lost roughly $15,000. The numbers get worse when a senior executive is involved.

All these reasons have pushed companies to work with executive search firms to help with executive recruitment. But how do you distinguish between excellent executive search firms and sub-standard firms? How do you choose an executive search firm for your business-specific requirements?

Here are some essential factors to consider when choosing an executive search firm;

How to Choose an Executive Search Firm

Organizations are increasingly partnering with executive headhunters to identify top talent and retain top talent. There are immense benefits that come with working with executive search firms, mainly retained executive search firms.

They include assessing the current crop of employees, giving recommendations or managerial strategies and long-term goals. But how do you identify the ideal executive search firm?

Here are some important factors that you should consider when choosing an executive search firm.

Start by Looking at their Access to Talented Candidates

Executive search firms provide value in the hiring process by availing the portfolios of qualified senior candidates to client companies. As a result, the first place you should consider when choosing a search firm is their access to top talent candidates.

Top executive search firms such as Flexi Personnel, Korn Ferry, and Boyden can interest and engage highly qualified candidates. They will include such individuals in their vast network and database.

Senior managerial jobs are often not advertised on newspapers and websites such as Linkedin. According to Career Shifters, an estimated 70% of all jobs are not advertised, including senior executive positions. Such jobs are reserved exclusively for highly qualified leaders.

And remember, such individuals, are seriously concerned with confidentiality. This means that they are not willing to take a risk on a company that could tarnish their reputation negatively. So, by assessing their access to such individuals, you are actually increasing your chances of securing top talent from a massive pool of talent.

Take a Look at their Search processes and Methods

Many headhunting firms use the same methods to attract top talent. But there are some considerations to be had here. For instance, how do they qualify or screen candidates to ensure they qualify for the given positions.

As the client company, you are looking for help from search firms because of their access to qualified candidates. But you need to find out the methods or techniques they use to screen candidates and qualify them for executive positions. It is going to be quite expensive when you are working with a retained headhunting firm. So, it would be in your best interest to find out how they qualify their candidates.

Secondly, you must find out how they conduct the search process itself.  Do they rely on advertisements or their database? How long will it take, and what guarantees do they give? You must consider such factors when looking for a search company.

Consider the Firm’s Knowledge and Expertise of the Industry

Top search firms have a deep understanding of the market in question. They follow this up with experience in successfully providing executive search solutions for companies. For this reason, you must consider the experience and expertise of the search company in providing executive search services.

Top executive search firms such as Flexi Personnel, Korn Ferry, and Boyden have expertise in just about all major industries. However, some firms have specialized in specific industries. Whatever your preference is, make sure you get a sense of their experience and technical know-how of the industry in question.

Knowledge of the industry will help you establish the headhunter’s access to a vast network of contacts, which can be critical to an executive search’s success.

Get to Know More About Their Policies

There are many policies that you should know about before continuing engagement with a search company. For instance, policies regarding confidentiality. Confidentiality is a big aspect of the executive search process for both the candidate and the client. For the client, company confidentiality is important as many cannot afford to risk the backlash and uncertainty that such actions might have. This is especially true for high performing organizations.

Such actions might weigh heavy on the client company’s hiring managers, resulting in low productivity and morale. Additionally, the uncertainty facing C level managerial positions often results in low productivity in the company. Any sort of perceived uncertainty might lead to unfavourable outcomes for the client company.

There are so many factors and stakeholders in play that could suffer from uncertainty. They include the shareholders, customers, and suppliers, among others. An ethical and morally sound search firm will ensure that the contents and proceedings of your engagement remain confidential unless stated otherwise.

Another policy that you should consider learning about includes the ‘off-limits’ policy. The off-limits policy simply refers to a policy adopted by headhunters that forbid them from outsourcing candidates from existing clients. Large firms cannot afford the backlash that might follow upon disclosure of the matter. In fact, many large corporations have adopted this policy as part of their staffing processes.

Analyze the Search Firm’s Track Record

Chances are you compete with other firms in the same industry. So, it would be best if you evaluated the search firm’s track record of dealing with companies similar to yours.

A good place to start would be by taking a look at the testimonials and reviews. A search firm should provide you with testimonials related to your relevant executive search. This will help you analyze the search firm’s success in question when dealing with companies such as yours.

Find Out What Sets the Search Firm Apart

In the corporate world, different firms have different traits and skills that make them stand out. So, it would be best to know the exact skills and practices that set the search firm apart from the rest. Furthermore, performing this sort of background check will sensitize you to what kind of services you should expect for your company.

Get to Know More About Their Assessment Capabilities

Assessment is an essential part of the executive search industry. Headhunters must perform their own assessment of the company’s managerial void and make recommendations based on their findings. So, you must find out more about a search company’s assessment capabilities.

Top executive search firms such as Flexi Personnel, Korn Ferry, and Boyden will make use of their industry knowledge to critically evaluate your company and make recommendations that not only look good on paper but drive results.

The search firm in contention must have the ability to combine years of experience across different markets and the technical know-how to help you arrive at the ideal candidate.

A word of caution; be careful about search firms lacking objectivity in their executive director’s choice. Professionalism in the executive search industry demands objectivity in providing candidates, advice, perspectives, and other executive insights that could be of help to the client organization.

Do they Help with Preparing for the Future?

Different situations might force your hand, leading you to consider working with an executive search firm. Such factors include the sudden departure of senior executives. This could have negative consequences on your long term / strategic operations.

Such circumstances have forced as many as 90% of CEOs and CFOs to work with interim managers in a trending managerial concept called interim management. There are many benefits of interim managers. But relevant to this point, you need to ensure that the search firm will help you in both the short and long run.

Top headhunters such as Flexi Personnel bring with them the expertise to help with C-suite solutions that will ensure a high level of performance in both the short and long run.

Executive search firms provide immense value for money. However, some search firms especially retained search firms, can be a little bit costlier. So, why should you choose an executive search firm?

Are Executive Search Firms Worth it?

Most hiring practices often ignore more information than what they gather. This is risky as it leaves the hiring decision up to chance. According to a Glassdoor survey, approximately 95% of hiring managers and employers have all admitted to making hiring mistakes leading to bad hires.

The risk of making hiring mistakes or engaging in ‘bad’ hiring practices is significantly reduced by using an executive search firm. So, using an executive search firm will prove to be worth it, especially in the long run.

Additionally, executive search firms will help you retain the current crop of employees through proper leadership. According to a Harvard report, 95% of all hiring is done to replace human capital in existing positions. Search companies will help you arrive at the ideal leader who will have a positive effect on your existing staff.

However, before engaging an executive search firm, you need to evaluate your current position and figure out why you are hiring and if it needs to be done immediately.

Bottom Line

Choosing an executive search firm has its own challenges. But hopefully, with the above guidelines, the process doesn’t have to be challenging. Organizations today are facing a serious problem with regard to executive talent acquisition. The solution lies in using executive recruiting from executive search consultants.

However, this doesn’t give businesses a license to contact any search firm. Remember, outsourcing for executive positions is a costly affair that demands due diligence. There are different types of recruiting services, all of which have different competencies. So, it would be in your best interest to find out more before engaging the executive search company.

Nonetheless, you will massively profit from having a great relationship with your executive search partner. Top search firms have massive candidate pools, which could significantly increase your odds of success at securing top talent at the executive level.

Contacting a search firm might be an expensive choice, but it will certainly prove to be of value. Remember, the cost of having a bad hire outweighs the cost of engaging an executive search firm for help with recruitment.

Are You Looking for an Executive Search Firm?

Your search for an executive firm doesn’t have to be challenging or time-consuming. As a matter of fact, you should consider acting quickly when an executive position has recently been vacated to avoid losses stemming from uncertainty and low productivity.

 That’s where we come in. Flexi Personnel is one of Africa’s best providers of HR management solutions, including the provision of senior executives. Over the years, we have morphed into an executive search powerhouse and consider ourselves C-suite selection experts.

With over 12 years’ experience, you are guaranteed the highest levels of professionalism and ethics should you choose to partner with us. Over the years, we have managed to compile a database and portfolio of highly skilled and qualified candidates to ensure we meet our clients’ leadership needs in line with their strategic direction.

Flexi Personnel has a track record of delivering results for corporations on a global scale. Not only that, but we have worked with major international brands. We would like to work with you on your next project!

Contact us today at Flexi Personnel for C-suite, executive search, and other human-resources management solutions.

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