What Should You Look For When Hiring An Executive Search Firm?

By Paige Nero

Senior Director of Talent

In our last piece, we discussed when you should consider hiring an executive search firm. (Read the article HERE.) Once you determine you need to hire an executive search firm, the next step would be evaluating which firm is right for you.

Not all search firms are created alike, so it is important to understand what they offer in order to determine which firm will be able to support your needs. Executive searches require a significant amount of expertise, time and money, so you want to be sure you take the time to vet your options.

Here are four things you should consider when evaluating and hiring your next search partner:

1. Expertise & knowledge – When considering an executive search firm, be sure to understand the expertise, background and breadth of services they offer. Do they have the strategic, organizational development and talent acquisition experience and expertise to actively facilitate meaningful conversations with candidates and the search committee?

Qualified search consultants will be able to ask thought-provoking questions and challenge assumptions to ensure there is alignment on what the ideal candidate looks like and where they will need to direct their outreach and research to find a strong pool of candidates.

2. Comprehensive, effective & efficient process – What is the firm’s search process? What resources will they provide to you and your team? As a retained partner, search consultants should be committed to fulfilling their client’s needs. Firms with a thorough process will be focused on presenting you with fully-vetted candidates and will manage all aspects of the search process.

This ranges from:

– Developing an understanding of your organization, your leadership philosophy and team

– Creating the ideal candidate profile

– Conducting market research

– Sourcing a strong pool of candidates

– Conducting all initial screening

– Interviewing and outlining/facilitating a structured interview to ensure the search committee is focused and aligned as they evaluate candidates for the role

Ultimately, all of these deliverables should be integrated in an effective, efficient and time-sensitive process that keeps everyone on the search committee informed and prepared to evaluate the candidates.

3. Internal expertise & capacity – Often, internal HR/OD teams do not have the expertise or consistent experience navigating senior leadership searches. Executive searches require extensive time commitments that can compete with the day-to-day functions of busy internal recruitment teams.

When selecting an executive search firm, they should be able to articulate how they will be a committed resource who will spend the time to deeply connect with the marketplace, coordinating all aspects of the search process. There is an art to keeping the search committee informed and aligned, as well as ensuring qualified candidates stay interested, engaged and prepared to bring their best to the interview process.

Executive search consultants can offer valuable support, ensuring candidates and employers are on the same page, that transparency and expectations are clear and both parties are able to identify if the opportunity is the right fit.

4. Search guarantee – Outsourcing executive search can be a significant investment, so it’s important to get it right the first time. When considering a potential search partner, be sure to find out if they offer a guarantee. This will further solidify their commitment to filling the position with the best candidate the first time and provide protection for your investment.

For additional insurance, be sure to inquire if the search firm incorporates evidence-based insights/assessments into the process. As we mentioned in “The Science of Finding the Right Leader,” understanding critical components of an individual’s personality, leadership style and areas of development can establish a strong foundation for ensuring organizational fit and building long-lasting relationships.

The Catapult difference

Catapult is not just a search firm. We want to know much more than the description of the job that you are filling. We start by understanding your organization as well as your vision, strategy and culture. We identify candidates who best fit your needs, not just the position requirements. Our holistic approach ensures not just a good fit, but the right fit.

For more information, contact Catapult HERE.

Join our talent pool to be considered for future executive search opportunities HERE.

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