What do Executive Search Firms Do? An Inside Overview

What do Executive Search Firms Do?

What do Executive Search Firms Do? An Inside Overview

Hiring the right leadership is one of the most important things a company can do. 

If you’ve ever been tasked with filling a senior-level position, you know how exhausting it can be. While finding the perfect candidate for a role is difficult for most positions in today’s hiring landscape, the executive recruitment process involves more time, diligent research, and higher stakes. 

Typically, C-Suite level candidates don’t come pouring into your hiring funnel – you have to seek them out and encourage them to apply. This is where executive search firms come in. 

An executive search firm is a company that excels at finding and placing highly qualified candidates into executive-level and niche specialist positions. Essentially, they take much of the work out of filling roles that are integral to a company’s success.

What Are the Different Types of Recruiting?

It is useful to understand the difference between executive search firms and other types of recruiting firms and in-house recruiters. Here are a few of the avenues companies can use to make hires.

Recruiting Agencies

Recruiting agencies are the standard choice for companies who need to make hires but do not have the capacity or capability to do so in-house. These external search firms help find and place talent for all kinds of vacant positions across industries. 

In-House Recruiters

In-house recruiters work internally for one company to make sure open vacancies for that company are filled in a timely manner. 

Staffing Agencies 

Slightly different than recruiting agencies, staffing agencies are more suited to filling vacant positions for part-time or short-term work. The staffing agency pricing model is typically project-based or fixed-fee. Sometimes a retainer is used as well. Robert Half is a popular example of a staffing agency. 

Job Boards

While they are not recruiting companies, job boards are websites that help candidates find openings via listings and recommendations. With tools like Indeed’s resume search, recruiters can explore an active talent pool and find candidates.

Executive Search Firms

While the above recruiting types are great options for filling many positions, executive search firms fill a more specific and crucial purpose. When you need to find your next COO, CMO, or even CEO, an executive search firm can help. Executive search firms also focus on finding candidates for hard-to-fill niche roles, such as specialized researchers. Many strategies are necessary for finding qualified candidates for higher-level roles, and these firms are perfect for doing just that.

How do Executive Search Firms Work? 

Wondering what it’s like to work with an executive search firm? It’s simpler than you think.

The executive search process starts with the firm coming to an understanding of a client’s overall needs and how the vacant position fits into the context of the company as a whole. Then,  the assigned executive search consultants learn about the position they are trying to hire for and define the core competencies necessary for it. Finally, they will target people that fit that distinct job profile and deliver the client with relevant, qualified candidates. 

Executive search firms make their money by receiving a fee in exchange for the service they provide. They often charge a designated percentage of the first year compensation of the executive position they fill.

What Are the Benefits of Using an Executive Search Firm?

There are many benefits of working with an executive search firm. Here are a few of the main perks:

  • Take the grunt work out of recruiting. Only candidates that have been pre-screened and thoroughly vetted by an executive search firm will be delivered to you. 
  • Find the best candidates for your team. Executive search firms consider both functional and cultural fit and present candidates that meet both criteria. They typically use technology as well as personality screenings and other measures to make sure the candidate you end up with is a cultural and personality fit along with having the skills to fill the role.
  • Build a long-term partnership. Working with an executive search firm is usually more than just a one-time transaction. By building a long-term relationship with your firm of choice, you can guarantee high quality candidates and unity within your leadership teams. 
  • Gain access to passive candidates. Executive search firms don’t just target currently available candidates. They also go after currently employed candidates who are perfect for your role (passive candidates.) 
  • Discretion. Executive search specialists know how to discreetly approach high-level candidates with tact and discretion making them more likely to consider your role.

When Should You Use An Executive Search Firm?

You should consider using an executive search firm when you have at least one opening for an executive-level or other hard-to-fill role. Executive search firms are especially beneficial to work with if your recruitment team is lacking the time or resources to adequately source a higher-level candidate.

What Is Working for an Executive Search Firm Like?

Many consider executive search a good career path, especially for those with prior business experience. Executive search job descriptions usually include qualifications such as a Bachelor’s degree in Business or a related field and tasks like working with recruiters and driving efforts toward candidate identification and engagement.

A day in the life of an executive recruiter often includes:

  • Position research. You must fully understand a role for which you are hiring.
  • Candidate outreach. You must pitch new roles to new candidates.
  • Internal review meetings. These are meetings with internal stakeholders.
  • External review meetings.This includes checking in with clients on search and placement quality.
  • Data management. This includes logging and analyzing executive search metrics.

Why Do People Work In Executive Search?

Executive recruiters report high job satisfaction, especially noting the variance in day-to-day tasks. Every search for each new position is different, leading to lots of learning on the job. Another high point is the salary. Executive recruiters’ salary is typically in the range of $55K–$120K.

Because of the nature of finding and placing highly qualified individuals such as presidents, vice presidents, and CEOs, executive recruiters also get to build a vast network of professionals across industries. 

Finally, the high point for many executive recruiters is the satisfaction of contributing to their clients’ career success. Not only is it fulfilling to meet clients’ needs by finding appropriate candidates, it can also be extremely rewarding to further someone’s career journey by placing them in a great position.

What Are the Top Executive Search Firms?

There are many great executive search firms to choose from. According to Hunt Scanlon, here are the “big 5” executive search firms.

  • Korn Ferry
  • Russell Reynolds Associates
  • Spencer Stuart
  • Heidrick & Struggles
  • Egon Zehnder

While these firms are well-known, they may not always be the best choice, depending on your company’s size and priorities. More boutique executive search firms tend to offer a more personalized and niche touch. For example, Medallion Partners stands out in the executive search industry for a few reasons.

Why Medallion Search Partners Could Be Right For Your Company

  • Our average time to place a candidate is under 100 days.
  • We only charge a percentage of the hired cantidate’s base salary. Many other firms will also take a percentage of total compensation along with other fees.
  • We don’t stop once a candidate is hired. We spend the next year ensuring that new hires are successful in their roles by helping them integrate to their new teams and helping their families integrate into their new communities. 
  • 66% of all of our placements are from diverse backgrounds, which is 2x the national average.
  • 98% of the candidates we place are still with the company after two years.

If you are in the process of hiring for executive level roles, contact Medallion Partners today to see how we could make this process simple and find the best possible candidates for your company.