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Executive Search Process Recruitment Guide

Learn why you should use a specialist executive search agency for your next senior appointment, saving time and costs to benefit your company.

Leadership is one of the most important things a company can invest in. At a senior level, talented leaders and executives can encourage employees, improve productivity, increase staff retention and ensure your organisation runs as smoothly as possible. Without good leadership, things can look extremely different.

Gallup estimates that poor management costs the world almost $7 trillion (around £5.5 trillion) in lost productivity, as employees become disengaged and their work suffers as a result. To put that in perspective, that’s around ten percent of the world’s GDP down the drain because of something as simple as poor leadership.

On a company level, LinkedIn research suggests that poor leadership could cost each company around $710 per employee each year due to increased staff turnover and the money lost recruiting replacements. A company only needs 1,500 employees before this cost increases to over $1 million. If anything else was costing a company this much, most leaders would be scrambling to change it.

So what’s the answer, especially if you are struggling to promote leadership talent from within? For a lot of organisations, it’s executive search. By recruiting senior executives with the leadership skills needed to keep your business running smoothly, you can ensure you always have access to the expertise you need to keep productivity high.


What is executive search?

In a lot of ways, executive search works like standard recruitment. You partner with an agency who takes note of your requirements and produces a shortlist of candidates for you to interview. However, it is a much more specialist field, and requires a great deal more care to ensure you are able to take on the senior staff you need.

This starts with your requirements. Because of the increased importance of leadership roles, this aspect of the recruitment process must be more in-depth. Your recruiters don’t just need to know what skills and qualifications you’re looking for; they’ll need to know your company culture, the structure of your organisation, the precise leadership role your new hire will be filling, and much more.

As such, this process needs a strong relationship between you and the agency undertaking the executive search for you. They will work closely with you to understand the particular nuances of your organisation, which they will combine with their expert knowledge of the senior talent pool to begin their search.

The recruiter will then become something of a brand ambassador for your company, using what they have learned to promote the role to the senior talent who match your needs. Many of the people with the qualities you need will not be actively looking for a new role, so it is down to the recruiter to showcase what makes your brand special.


What is the executive search process?

So, how does senior appointment recruiting work? Here’s an outline of the executive search process and what you can expect once you engage with it:

  • Research and understanding
    The first step is always the research process. Here, the agency will work with you to come up with a comprehensive brief for the role. This usually starts with a conversational process, as the agency will likely have a great deal of insight into what to look for and what information they need from you.
  • The search process
    Once the agency fully understands what you need from a senior executive, they can begin the search. This will differ for every agency; at Allen Recruitment for example, the search is AI-powered and looks internationally to find the candidates who match your parameters, even if they aren’t actively looking for a new position. This approach leads to an extremely deep talent pool, allowing Allen Recruitment Senior Appointments team to ensure no potential hire is missed.
  • Attracting candidates
    Once a longlist of candidates has been created, the agency will begin to reach out to them. While some agencies will rely on cold calling, at Allen Recruitment this process is automated. Candidates are contacted automatically and encouraged to book meetings, and this approach has an extremely high engagement rate of over 70 percent.
  • Narrowing the shortlist
    Once the candidates have been contacted, specialist recruiters can talk to them and get to know them better. These recruiters will all be intimately familiar with your company and your needs, so these conversations will help to narrow down which candidates are the best fit for you and your organisation.
  • Bringing your hires on board
    There might be several stages of interviews if needed, in order to narrow down which candidates are the best fit for you. However, once you have chosen, there is still work to be done. The successful candidates will need to be brought on board, and if you have hired internationally that might be a difficult prospect.

A good senior recruiter will keep working with you to ensure all regulatory requirements have been met and your new hire is able to start with as little friction as possible.


Why senior appointment recruiters are worth it

Executive search is a paid service, and you will want to make sure you are getting value for money. However, bringing in a senior appointment recruiter is generally a good use of your budget, as hiring the right executives can make huge differences to your organisation’s bottom line.

We’ve mentioned above the potential gains or losses that can be made depending on the quality of your leadership. Executives are not only in charge of deciding in which direction the company goes, but are also responsible for ensuring employees are well-managed, motivated and productive. A poor leader can disengage your workforce and cause lost productivity and problems with staff retention.

While you can hire senior staff yourself, the benefit of using an executive recruiter is you will be able to utilise their expertise and technology. A good agency will be able to look through multiple databases, for example, and cross-reference these in order to build up an accurate picture of your talent pool.

This means you are not restricted to whoever answers a job ad; you can have your pick from all of the potential candidates who meet your requirements, even if they are not currently actively looking for a job. You might even be able to access global talent, meaning you can hire from overseas if there is a candidate who matches what you need.

Senior appointment recruiters are also specialists, meaning they are adept at spotting the qualities and attributes that make good leaders. They also understand how to motivate them to move roles, which is an underrated part of recruitment; it’s no good finding the perfect candidate if they will not leave their current position.

It helps to have this expertise coming from an outside party, as companies can too easily fall into a pattern of hiring the same type of person over and over again. A more objective look will help you find the senior talent that will be the most benefit to your organisation, and in time your senior recruiter can become a trusted partner and advisor to your business.


What to look for in a senior appointment agency

With this in mind, what should you be looking for when you appoint a senior recruitment agency? There are a few attributes that the best executive recruiters have, which will ensure you are able to find and hire the best senior-level talent.

Objective advice

There is no point working with an agency that is just going to tell you what you already know. Part of why you partner with a specialist recruiter is to take advantage of their expertise, so you want to choose one that can add something new to your understanding of recruitment. Ideally, the agency you choose will continue to work alongside you in the long term, providing you with advice that propels your company to new heights.

A senior appointment recruiter will work to understand your organisation, its culture, its nuances and its challenges in order to find candidates that are the perfect fit. This puts them in a great position to offer advice and coach you on nurturing talent, building your organisation and long-term planning.

Building your employer brand

Your recruiter will be the public face of your company to all the candidates they interact with, so you will want to ensure you bring on someone who understands this responsibility and takes it seriously. A good executive search agency will promote your business as an employer, showcasing all the things that make you attractive to work for and improving your ability to acquire talent in the long run.

Bias-free recruitment

Most organisations know the benefit of diverse teams, and few want to risk missing out on elite talent because of unconscious bias. A good executive recruiter will have mechanisms in place to prevent bias from playing a part in their recruitment efforts, ensuring you always have your pick of the best talent available.


How long does executive search recruitment take?

Unfortunately, the answer to this one is “it depends”. Partially, this will be down to you. For example, are you already maligned on what exactly you need from a senior hire, or will you need your agency partner to guide you through the process of creating a comprehensive brief? The latter is always worth doing if needed, but it adds time onto the process.

Agencies typically have ways to save time compared to in-house recruitment. For example, Allen Recruitment’s automated contact system prevents delays caused by recruiters struggling to get in touch with candidates. However, you also don’t want to rush the process if you want to ensure you hire the right people for your organisation.

Because of the senior level of the candidates, hires can typically take longer than lower-level recruitment. Expect a process of one to two months and prepare accordingly; if a senior-level employee is making steps to leave, begin looking for their replacement as soon as you can to avoid gaps in your organisation’s structure.


Final thoughts

Hiring any employee can be a difficult process, but when you’re looking for executive talent the stakes are often much higher. A senior recruitment specialist will make sure you take the right person on board, and will be there with your business as long as they are needed to advise and plan for future recruitment.

While agencies can be taken on board as needed, successful businesses often look to build long-term partnerships with their senior recruiters. When the time comes to employ a new executive, it pays to have an organisation you can turn to who know your business and your requirements inside out, and ensure they find you the best person for the job.


Posted in: Allen Senior Appointments / Blog

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