September 27, 2019 – It’s far from easy to find talent with the right skills, experience and values to fill vital senior executive positions. Some roles are simply so important that you have to invest time, money and resources in identifying and recruiting the absolute best individual. That means bringing in an executive search firm. Using a new report by Odgers Berndtson as a base, let’s pinpoint the 10 most important factors to consider when hiring a top search firm.
1. Leadership.Top executive search firms have a solid grasp of the special qualities required to fill C-suite positions and other senior leadership roles.
2. Advice. Clients can tap into in-depth recruitment market and sector-specific knowledge to help define their hiring strategy.
3. Discretion. Approaching executives who are still in roles elsewhere, particularly if they work for a direct competitor or a company with whom you do business, calls for sensitivity and discretion. The best executive search consultants exercise these traits every day.
4. Reputation. A respected name opens doors. Busy potential candidates will respond to overtures from a leading firm.
Choosing Your Executive Search Firm
It’s far from easy to find people with the right skills, experience and values to fill vital senior executive positions. Some roles are simply so important that you have to invest in identifying and recruiting the best individual.
But how do you set about choosing an executive search firm? To begin with, you need to look for a well-established recruitment provider with a reputable name. This will certainly help in opening doors to great talent.
5. Network. Consultants at top executive search firms have carefully cultivated a wide network of senior-level contacts, and have a global reach too. That means unparalleled access to the best talent, wherever it is.
“Leading executive search firms have a strong name and reputation that really helps in acquiring and securing candidates,” said Michaël Mellink, senior partner in Odgers Berndtson’s Amsterdam office and head of its life sciences practice. “Market knowledge and a strong network of contacts is advantageous in securing the best candidates – with an excellent network among board members [being] very valuable for the more senior positions.”
6. Diversity and Inclusion.A breadth of talent, opinion, background, judgment and experience enables companies to challenge existing thinking and gain competitive advantage. Leading search firms are always mindful of diversity and inclusion when compiling lists of candidates.
Diversity and inclusion has rightly become an increasingly significant factor in executive searches, in particular for board-level positions. Organizations have come to appreciate that having many different voices around the board table enhances the probability of success.
“A well-rounded search firm will itself champion diversity and be actively engaging with internal and external diversity networks on an ongoing basis,” said Holly Addison, head of consumer technology, digital, hospitality, events and entertainment at Odgers Berndtson, London. “If enabling diversity is a key factor in selecting a search firm, make sure it has an enduring focus and commitment to it, not just a strapline for the pitch.”
7. Specialization. Consultants at leading search firms are experts in their field, able to apply deep, industry-specific knowledge to identifying and attracting the individuals you need.
“Some roles are highly specialized and can only be filled by candidates with a rare combination of skills,” the Odgers Berndtson report said. “If that’s the case for you, check that the search firm has the know-how and track record to discover these hard-to-find individuals.”
8. Capacity. Companies should ask themselves if they really have both the skills and time to run this process internally, including plowing through piles of CVs, many of which, if not all, may be wide of the mark).
Here’s 3 Keys to Successful Executive Recruiting
Just about every business publication today, it seems, is talking about the impact of the growing talent shortage on both individual organizations and the overall economy. Research suggests that roughly 40 percent of employers are currently experiencing hiring difficulties.
9. Pinpointing. Some roles are highly specialized and can only be filled by candidates with a rare combination of skills. An executive search firm will track down these people.
“It’s our job to help clients think about their organization’s talent and be an objective advisor,” said Susannah Crabtree, head of the Odgers Berndtson, Ottawa, Canada office. “So, ask us for that information. Ask us what’s happening in your industry, who’s moving where and what’s driving the marketplace. A search firm can be a bellwether and can provide a lot of insights for developing your talent strategy.”
10. Sustained impact. Retained executive search firms focus on top talent and judge success not only on whether they place a candidate but also on the length of time they spend in the role and their overall effectiveness.
The best search firms have a strong grasp of the special qualities required to fill C-suite positions and other senior leadership roles, said Odgers Berndtson. Moreover, they employ a team of consultants, backed by specialist researchers, each of whom has carefully cultivated a wide network of senior-level contacts, providing unparalleled access to the best talent.
“Look for a firm that has the expertise and a track record in your industry,” the report said. “Ideally, the consultant who specializes in your sector will also have in-depth knowledge of the functional role you are aiming to fill.”
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media