The Executive Search Industry Explained

The business world has become a highly specialised arena where the need for properly qualified executives has risen substantially in recent times. Thus, it is important to appreciate what makes the executive search industry unique and some of the differences between traditional recruiting methods.

Headhunting Versus Recruiting

One of the most pronounced differences between executive recruiting and normal methods is associated with the type of strategies each employs. It must be first understood that the type of candidates that the executive search industry wishes to contact represent a small percentage of the overall workforce; normally highly qualified professionals. Normal recruitment methods post open positions and then determine which applicants may best suit a particular position. Executive headhunters will proactively speak to individuals which may be currently employed and enquire whether they may be aware of someone interested in a current position. Such “word-of-mouth” techniques are particular to this arena. This is a marked difference between traditional recruitment methodologies.

The Use of the “Middleman”

In normal recruiting, a company may passively post a position and wait for interested applicants to apply. The executive search industry is differentiated by the fact that corporations will retain the use of an executive search firm. In order to better understand the needs of a specific client, this “middleman” will obtain a working knowledge of this client’s individual requirements. Firms will consider a host of factors such as discreet personality traits, past expertise or a certain amount of prior industry experience. These metrics will then guide the interim management firm in their recruitment process, thus increasing the chances of securing a suitable candidate. This approach is exceedingly effective in targeting a very unique demographic that may otherwise be difficult to engage with normal methods.

The Choice of Executive Search Firms

Another reason that companies use the services of executive search firms is due to the fact that the firm has explicit and detailed knowledge of a particular sector or candidate demographic. Due to such a focused approach these firms can take advantage of other means at their disposal. Sophisticated evaluation tools can include the use predictive analytics to gauge future job performance. This method is based on the gathering and interpretation of client-centred data in relation to a company’s expectations. They can use psychological evaluation tools and examples of past performance to determine future efficiency. Alternatively, they can aid in the on-board training programs to help better integrate newly-hired executives into the team. Succinctly, this “hands-on” approach further differentiates the executive search industry from its traditional counterparts.

Exposure Levels

Finally, one noticeable difference between recruiting methods is the fact that most often, executive recruitment activities maintain a relatively low profile. These are specialised practices that seek to avoid an influx of potentially under-qualified candidates, and therefore their target audience represents a small portion of the active workforce. This being said, it would do the executive searching for work little good to submit a CV, as these firms recruit on a demand-oriented basis. This greatly contrasts to the broad recruitment techniques currently employed by more traditional methods.

So, we have seen here a handful of the most evident disparities between executive search industry techniques and those utilised by companies simply hoping to hire a qualified individual. As each business will have their own discreet requirements that will need to be satisfied, the executive search industry reflects a constantly adapting service which must meet the changing demands of an ever-evolving marketplace.

This article was written by Marble Hill Partners, who are an executive search and interim management firm. They provide their clients unparalleled access to world class executives and interim managers.

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