How to Find Your Executive Recruiter

Your company has hit a critical growth phase – maybe it’s your startup’s first one, maybe your company is scaling fast, maybe you’re expanding into new markets. Whatever size your company, having the right leaders in place is crucial.  

Hiring leaders for executive roles to grow your company can be a challenging situation.

Is executive recruitment difficult in your industry?

Is your company in a niche market?

Are you growing a startup and, unsurprisingly, lacking the time to hire your next leaders?

The good news is, you’ve just taken an important first step. You’ve identified that you need an expert to hire an expert. An experienced executive recruiter has the knowledge, resources and network to help you find the leaders your company needs. He or she will also save you time – time you need to fly the plane you’re building. 

Hiring is the most important thing you’ll do in growing your business, so invest in outside professional help.

Source: Forbes


What does an Executive Recruitment Firm do?

Known as leadership recruitment, executive search or executive recruiting, the practice empowers organizations to attract and secure top leaders with the skills to drive company growth and long-term success. 

It is a specialized form of recruitment, aimed at finding and hiring C-Suite and executive leadership roles. An executive recruitment firm offers expert support throughout the entire process, managing all stages effectively and efficiently so you find the most skilled, qualified, experienced leader.

The only thing more costly than dragging your feet on a critical hire is hiring the wrong leader.

Source: Forbes

Executive recruitment firms support companies from niche startups to international organizations. Executive placement firms often specialize in industries and markets, working with founders, CEOs, and HR professionals to lead the hiring process for an executive role. 

No organization can afford to overlook the importance of finding the best people for leadership roles, but that is not as easy as it sounds. Sometimes you need to hire fast. Compromise seems like the most organic thing to do. 

But what are the potential risks and benefits with cutting corners?

Hiring someone new is by default like taking a chance. You can never know 100%. Past results do not guarantee future success, but make it more predictable. The less past track someone has, the more it’s a gamble. Gambles can pay off.

The question is, how lucky do you feel?

Let’s say the gamble does not pay off. You, and people in your company, have now 

These are the direct consequences, which are bad enough. But the indirect consequences are even more important and have more impact:

  • delay or stifle the results and growth this person was hired for 
  • face another 3-6 months to replace them
  • indirectly indicate to the team that it’s okay not to be on your A-game 
  • more B players like them get hired 
  • ask your team to pick up the slack (even worse if that person is still there)
  • loss of face in the market if a C-Level hire leaves fast – what’s wrong with the company?

Delano Brand

Director at Key Search

How does Executive Search Work?

How does Executive Search Work?

Starting the Executive Recruitment Process

As with anything, we start with understanding the WHY the position exists. Understanding the problem or challenge a company or its leadership is facing allows us to test and confirm the solution. The solution being: who are we looking for? 

After this is established, we start shaping the person, together with the client, they are looking for. We do this by asking an array of questions tailored to the situation of the role and the organization’s stage.

With a time-sensitive task of filling a leadership role, specialized executive recruitment firms are fully dedicated to finding the right candidate, while clients focus on other aspects of their business.

What are the Benefits of an Executive Recruiting firm?

All hiring needs are met: Dedicated to work with and for your company, the executive recruitment firm has the experts, experience, resources and network to find the right candidate.

Save time and money: By tasking executive recruiters with the search for top talent, businesses save time, money and resources while knowing they will get the best candidate.

Find and approach the right leaders: Strong matches with impressive resumes and experience are often not actively looking for a new role. 

Use of assessment tools: As part of the executive recruitment process, these expert tools help to rule out bias, identify gaps, and allow the search consultant to customize interview questions

Efficient and effective recruitment process: Executive recruiters present a shortlist of top candidates and support with salary and offer recommendations on the finalist

Define how success is measured: Set clear expectations and create a roadmap to success and its milestones

Why Hire an Executive Recruitment Firm to Hire Specific Top Positions?

  • Companies miss the mark on high managerial talent in 82% of their hiring decisions Gallup
  • Turnover in an executive role can cost a company up to 213% of the position’s salary Zippia
  • For a small company, a five-figure investment in the wrong person is a threat to the business. Forbes
  • Almost one in ten bad hires either quit or are let go because they don’t fit the company brand or culture. Zippia

Partnering with an executive recruiter who specializes in finding talent for industry-specific leadership positions can help to speed up the process and reduce the risk of a failed hire. Mind you, reduce risk. Elimination would be utopian.

With a professional network, dedicated research team, and professional assessment tools, executive recruiters take the time-consuming effort and guesswork out of recruiting for leadership positions.

How to find Executive Recruiters: What to Consider when Choosing an Executive Recruitment Firm

People cannot be printed, so there will always be some level of ambiguity. The good news is that there are ways to mitigate that and it usually starts with the question. 

Do you want to make your problem someone else’s problem? 

No? Go for a contingent agency. They can be highly effective but there is no obligation for them to spend time on your search. 

Yes! Go for a committed executive search firm where you have commitment from both sides.

Then find a firm that understands your organization, its stage and your industry. 

What we hear most often from clients is that they need someone who understands the phase they in as an organization. In order to find that, you need an executive recruitment firm that gets it. 

You are looking for a partner. The right search partner is an extension of you. They sell the company, the job and you. They also get the word out about your company to the right people. Often drawing on connections with valuable sparring partners and investors that can be of great benefit

Checklist: How to Choose the Executive Recruitment Firm that's Right for Your Business

When speaking to potential executive recruiters, check if they can describe and show examples of an effective, proven recruitment process. Here are some things to look for when you start your search for the perfect recruitment partner to hire your top leaders.

Relevant, Industry-specific Experience: This experience is crucial to understanding your needs and finding top candidates.

Providing a Unique Candidate and Client Experience: Can the recruitment firm demonstrate that they provide a unique candidate experience? The first contact also provides the first impression a candidate will have of your company. How are clients kept up to speed on the progress?

Search Methodology: How does the firm search? Is that in their own warm network or do they map the market and reach out to the most relevant people specifically for you.

Proven Resources and Professional Network: Executive recruiters should have access to research specialists, a large network and exclusive databases.

Client Roster with Companies Similar to Yours: The firm's client portfolio should show companies that are similar in size and industry to yours. This gives a good indication of the firm's focus and competence.

Professional Tools from Contact to Closing: Does the executive recruitment firm use professional candidate briefing documents and client insights tools to help you easily keep track of the recruiter's progress?

Reviews and Recommendations: Was the executive recruitment firm recommended to you by your network? Do they have positive reviews of other clients in your industry? Read reviews carefully to understand strengths and weaknesses.

Executive recruiting can be a necessary investment for your company. Reliable executive recruitment firms understand this and will want to engage with you to help you hire leaders. As experienced experts, they will offer all of the above aspects to find top talent for your company.

Red Flags When Selecting an Executive Recruitment Firm

Some read flags might seem obvious, some may be nothing you would have ever identified as a warning sign. The following list of red flags is here to help you make an informed decision on who to work with to hire your leaders.

Inexperience: A missing track record of placements and good results is a red flag.

Inconsistency: Client and candidate contacts should be the same throughout the hiring process. If a firm cannot name the recruiter who will be dedicated to your case, it's a red flag.

Lack of Efficiency: Top executive recruiting firms know that hiring the right leader fast is crucial for your business. Ask how long it takes to shortlist candidates on average. If it takes too long for results, their process is not optimized and it's a red flag.

Poor Communication: Do you have unanswered questions or only have insights into parts of the process? Are you pressured to make decisions without having all answers? It's a red flag.

No Dedication: Recruiting requires time and attention to detail. If you see little interest towards your company – it's a red flag.

Key Search Executive Search Helps You Hire Your Leaders

Hiring Stats

More than 60 fast-growing tech startups trust Key Search to hire their leaders. These startups drive innovation and are the movers and shakers of their respective industries. Founded in 2020, Key Search has placed 55 senior leadership roles across Europe in its first year alone.

As part of our unique executive search process, we conduct exclusive in-house research for each leadership role we recruit for. Our team of consultants has over 50 years of combined industry experience and a vast professional network.

Have a look at our clients to see who we work with and be sure to scroll down to read the testimonials. When you’re ready, let’s talk to see how Key Search can help you scale and grow by hiring the right leaders for your business.

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