What Is An Executive Recruiter?

Competition for high-performing executives has been steadily heating up across industries. 

As more and more organizations struggle to efficiently, effectively, and affordably fill their most impactful leadership roles, interest in partnering with executive recruiters has skyrocketed. Companies that recognize the value of investing in executive search early have begun to steadily outpace their competition’s talent acquisition efforts, leaving an ever-increasing number of organizations wondering – what is an executive recruiter? 

In this article, we’ll answer your most pressing questions about executive search, like:

What Is An Executive Recruiter?

An executive recruiter is a highly specialized recruiter and talent consultant. Unlike most recruiters, executive recruiters avoid entry, intermediate, and mid-management projects and exclusively focus on filling vacancies at the highest rungs of the corporate ladder. 

By solely partnering with organizations seeking candidates for C-suite, executive, and hard-to-fill specialist vacancies (like PhD researchers in fledgling fields), executive recruiters can invest in developing niche-specific tools, techniques, and strategies that position them to generate transformative placements for their clients. 

Executive recruiters’ unique role in the recruiting industry empowers them to access hard-to-crack executive talent pools more easily than other recruiters. They also deploy unique candidate identification and evaluation processes fine-tuned for the executive market, allowing them to place candidates with organizations with similar or complementary leadership styles, values, and vision. 

Executive recruiters are also excellent talent acquisition partners, thanks to their complete immersion in the most challenging arenas of recruiting. The highly competitive nature of the executive talent market equips experienced executive recruiters with unique talent insights, invaluable market knowledge, and rare recruiting expertise that positions them to identify, access, engage, and onboard the perfect candidates for their clients.

What Does An Executive Recruiter Do? 

The best executive recruiters blend a laundry list of hard and soft skills to provide their clients with unmatched recruiting access, efficiency, and outcomes. 

Executive recruiters achieve this by providing more refined, strategic, and personalized recruiting experiences than their generalist colleagues. Instead of applying one-size-fits-all solutions to their partners’ executive hiring challenges, high-quality executive recruiters build bespoke talent acquisition strategies fine-tuned to address each client’s most pressing needs. 

The Executive Recruitment Process

Let’s look at a world-class executive recruitment process to better understand executive recruiters’ roles and responsibilities in the larger corporate landscape. 

The best executive recruitment processes follow strategically-designed phases that create exceptional experiences for both the hiring organization and the candidates under consideration. 

Step One: Strategize

As discussed briefly above, a successful executive search requires a data-driven strategy customized to your business’s unique cultureand challenges. 

The best executive recruiters build these bespoke recruitment strategies by conducting in-depth analyses of their client’s organizational structure, company culture, short and long-term business goals, and overarching missions and visions.

After gaining a solid understanding of your company’s performance, productivity, and cultural needs, your executive search partner will begin creating a framework for your custom recruitment process. They’ll develop a timeline for each stage of the recruitment journey, interface with decision-makers to set up interview schedules and establish your targeted Hire Date, and review your total award package to determine its competitiveness. 

Once your executive recruiter has built your custom talent acquisition strategy, they’ll officially launch their search.

Step Two: Search

Executive recruiters’ search process can vary significantly from most tried-and-true methods leveraged by recruiters filling simpler roles. 

Instead of relying on the active candidate market, “wide-net” tools like job boards, or competitive professional social media platforms to source candidates, executive recruiters lean on carefully crafted networks, cutting-edge candidate identification and evaluation tools, and hard-earned access to world-class pools of passive talent to generate placements. 

After your executive recruiter has built an exciting roster of qualified candidates, they’ll conduct a meticulous evaluation process that provides insight into each candidate’s performance potential, cultural assimilation probability, and “hireability.” 

After your executive recruiting partner has thoroughly evaluated and refined the candidate roster, your organization will receive a detailed presentation that empowers your corporate leadership to make measured and informed interview decisions. 

Step Three: Secure

After your organization has chosen your finalist(s), your executive recruiting partner will begin the process of securing your new team member. 

The best executive recruiters leverage data-driven negotiation processes to cut through the noise and win commitments from desirable – but busy – executive candidates. Once your executive recruiter has brought your new team member on board, they should begin working alongside your new hire to terminate their current role and begin a low-stress transition that eases the assimilation process and positions your new executive to hit the ground running. 

Step Four: Succeed

The most valuable executive recruitment partners are keenly aware that successful executive placements don’t end at the date of hire. 

Supporting a smooth integration period and providing personal and professional support to new executives as they transition into new roles, industries, and environments is essential for ensuring long-term success. 

To fill this crucial need, executive recruiters like Medallion Partners offer comprehensive executive support services that lead to higher performance, higher satisfaction, and greater success for their partners and candidates. 

How Does Someone Become An Executive Recruiter?

The best executive recruiters join the industry after enjoying a long and successful climb up the corporate ladder in their chosen industry. Former executives make excellent executive recruiters, because they have first-hand experience navigating the fast-paced lifestyle and complex challenges executives face across industries. 

This unique blend of insight and experience in the executive world, coupled with extensive personal and professional networks cultivated during their executive career, equips former executives to excel in the executive recruitment industry. 

Another path to becoming an executive recruiter is starting in a generalist recruiting role and steadily upskilling, expanding your candidate network and developing reliable talent acquisition strategies. The best executive search firms are always interested in up-and-coming recruiters with a demonstrated history of going above and beyond to consistently generate top-tier placements – even if those placements were at the intermediate or mid-management level.

Former executives and skilled recruiters that manage to crack the competitive executive recruitment market can expect to earn between $75-125,000 annually. According to the most recent data from Glassdoor, most executive recruiters bring home roughly $105,000/year, not including performance bonuses, stock options, and other benefits. 

How Much Do Executive Recruiters Cost in 2023?

Like most recruiters, executive recruiters base their fees on the salary/compensation package their partners offer their new executive hire. 

Typically, executive recruiters and headhunters charge 25-35% of first-year compensation for a successful placement. And despite common misconceptions, executive and sales recruiters’ fees are always assigned to the hiring organization – never the new hire. 

Assuming an average executive salary range of $100-175,000 a year, organizations can expect to spend between $25,000-60,000 for each successful placement. 

This may seem like a stiff fee at first glance, but the expenses associated with a poor executive hire quickly outpace the price of investing in a reputable executive recruiting partner. Let’s look at the cost of making the wrong call when it’s time to hire a new executive, specialist, or corporate leader. 

Bad Executive Hires: Performance and Productivity Costs

Hiring an executive that is a poor performance fit for your role can significantly impact your organization’s bottom line. Executives with performance philosophies that clash with your organization’s status quo can drive down productivity and impede innovation amongst their subordinates.

Executives that don’t align with your organizational culture can cause irreparable harm to your company’s retention, reputation, and revenue. 

With organizations across industries still reeling from the Great Resignation, and workers’ priorities trending toward healthy, enjoyable working environments, the importance of capturing leaders that excite, inspire, and support their staff has never been higher. 

Organizations that miss the mark with new C-suite, department head, and specialist hires often find themselves facing higher churn rates, lower productivity, and increased expenses related to attracting and retaining qualified, experienced staff members. 

If unchecked, an executive hire that turns out to be a poor cultural fit for your company can spark a vicious cycle of employee churn. 

How Medallion Partners Can Help You Find the Perfect Candidate

Medallion Partners is a premier boutique executive search agency with more than 15 years of experience generating one-in-a-million placements. We partner with everyone from start-ups to medium-sized businesses, to industry titans to find the candidates for business-critical vacancies. To learn more about our industry-leading executive search process, reach out to one of our talent acquisition specialists today. There is a reason that over 98 percent of our placements are still in their roles after two years. We make sure that we don’t just find a candidate with the right experience. We make sure we find the right candidate for your company.

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