Selecting the right executive search firm

Filling your management needs requires a great deal of commitment and thought before the search for the right executive begins outright. Executive recruiters are an extension of an organization’s team, and the way that your search partner is perceived by potential leadership candidates – especially when it comes to quality and credentials – can be a reflection on your company. Recruiters are brand ambassadors and networkers, so finding the partner that best represents your company is crucial. If you don’t already have a search partner you trust, there are several steps you can take to ensure you make the best possible choice.

Research thoroughly

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the first step toward settling on a search partner is to do some digging to determine which recruiters work in your space, at what level, and with whom. Evaluate potential search partners based on their responsiveness, their references (always check them), and their ability to recruit from your “most admired target companies.”

Consider previous search results

The right search partner should have a verifiable history of placing candidates in the position your organization is looking to fill. Look at their track record – an effective search team should complete the highest percentage of searches with the longest tenure for placed candidates.

Don’t select a firm based on internal stakeholder connections

Due to non-solicit agreements, even firms that regularly bring in top-level talent may not have access to certain executives from their client companies. Assess search partners based on qualifications, capabilities, and references rather than who internal stakeholders know.

Narrow down your list

Short-listing two or three firms to present to the stakeholders is the final step in the search partner selection process. This is the opportunity for them to earn your business by explaining why they will delight you with the results. Allow each search partner a set amount of time to make their case, and follow up each presentation with questions that allow the team to elaborate on how it would handle the search process if hired. Consider asking how team members would describe your organization, as well as inquiring about what they know regarding the challenges facing your specific market.

After the presentations, check references (if not already completed), make a quick decision and communicate the results. Provide the unsuccessful teams with specific reasons for your decision; they will appreciate the feedback. Following that, you’re ready to work with the victor to find a candidate who meets your needs.

About Caldwell Partners

Caldwell Partners is a leading international provider of executive search and has been for more than 40 years. As one of the world’s most trusted advisors in executive search, the firm has a sterling reputation built on successful searches for boards, chief and senior executives, and selected functional experts. With offices and partners across North America and in London, the firm takes pride in delivering an unmatched level of service and expertise to its clients.

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