Tuesday, October 3, 2023

What to Expect When Working With an Executive Search Firm

Hiring for any type of position is difficult, let alone an executive role that carries considerable responsibilities. Finding top talent takes time and resources, two things that busy companies rarely have to spare.

Working with an executive search firm could be the solution to your problems. Search firms specialise in sourcing high-quality candidates on behalf of their employers, taking the stress of hiring an executive right off your shoulders.

For companies that have traditionally used in-house recruitment methods, the idea of handing the reins over to someone else can seem daunting. It can feel like there is a loss of control, and you might be slightly apprehensive about the end result. Understanding the process that an executive search firm uses to source, interview, and screen candidates can help allay any fears you have.

Building the client relationship
Executive search firms strive to build long-lasting relationships with their clients. While you might only be hiring for one specific position at the moment, their goal is to be your first port of call at any point in the future should you require another executive candidate.

The first step when working with an executive search team is therefore establishing the client relationship. The firm will spend time getting to know your company, the types of challenges and opportunities you are currently facing. Ideally, they will have experience working in your industry but if not, sector-related research will also occur at this early stage of proceedings.

For a candidate to succeed in any one position, a lot of things need to go right. One of these is finding someone who fits within the culture of your organisation. Your executive search firm must have a comprehensive understanding of company policies and employee expectations to succeed on this front.

Understanding the role requirements
From here, we move onto establishing the specific role requirements. This includes hard and soft skills, personal attributes, and the expected level of experience you wish the candidate to possess.

By drawing up an exhaustive candidate profile, the likelihood of finding the right person to fit the job will increase dramatically.

Candidate screening
One of the most time consuming parts of hiring a new employee is screening applications. The job market is very competitive and high ranking positions can draw hundreds of applications. While some of these may not meet the mark, many will. Sifting through these applications is not something that can be done overnight; it requires time and concerted attention.

Having reduced the number of candidates down to just the top competitors, the executive search firm will usually provide their client with a shortlist for approval.

Candidate meeting
Now it’s interview time. This is another step that an executive search firm can take care of for you; however, some clients prefer to sit in and participate on this stage of proceedings. At the very least, all logistical considerations will be taken care of by the firm. The interview provides the opportunity for candidates to be assessed in-person and also ask any questions they might have.

For top executive positions, it’s completely normal (even expected) to have several rounds of interviews. After all, you’re on the hunt for someone who can lead a company to operational and financial success — that kind of search doesn’t happen without time.

Having narrowed your shortlist down to the top candidate, it should be expected that there’s a period of negotiation. Often, your chosen candidate will be leaving a current, lucrative role to work at your company. They will need persuading in the form of salary, flexible working conditions, and benefits.

This second point is very important. In 2021, many employees will expect to be offered the opportunity to work remotely for at least a portion of the week. This may already be a company policy, or you may need to discuss the matter further.

Transition management
Even the most experienced candidates will require a little time to settle into their new role. This process can be helped considerably through the process of transition management. Many executive search firms have programs that help C-suite employees and senior managers adjust to the demands and expectations of their new position. They can provide a point of communication between their client and the candidate, ensuring that all stakeholders are happy with how things are progressing.

Each executive search firm will be different in terms of their workflow and the types of services they offer. It’s a good idea to speak with a few different firms before signing up with one particular company. Given the types of responsibilities that they will be entrusted with, you want to be 100 percent confident with your eventual decision.

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