When Should You Hire An Executive Search Firm?

By Paige Nero

Senior Director of Talent

In the world-renowned leadership and management book, Good to Great, author Jim Collins asked the question, “How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness?” Through extensive research, Collins and his team identified a framework that “great” organizations possessed in order to achieve what he described as not only remarkable, but sustainable results.

The first two elements of the framework were directly tied to leadership and team, proving that the impact of talent on the overall success of an organization is profound. When faced with the task of hiring critical talent, boards and senior leadership teams will often consider whether they need to partner with an executive search firm to help them with these important hires and leadership transitions. As a board member, HR leader or senior executive, you might be asking yourself the same question.

There are 4 critical things to consider when making this decision which you can learn about right now:

  1. Level of seniority or complexity of the role – The more senior the role you are looking to fill, the more of an impact the incumbent’s performance will have on the business – strategically, financially and culturally. The more complex the role, the more difficult it is to identify a strong pool of candidates. One of the primary benefits of hiring an executive search firm is access to their network and pool of candidates that meet your specific and unique needs. Internal recruiting teams typically do not have extensive networks or time to conduct the original research needed to build a slate of competitive candidates.
  2. Key leadership transition – When a tenured leader exits a key senior leadership role, it can cause significant disruption within the organization. Handling this type of transition takes a specialized search, transition and communication strategy to ensure there is as little disruption as possible. Qualified executive search consultants have dealt with these types of situations time and time again. They will be able to see around corners, anticipate challenges, facilitate productive discussions with the search committee and design a transition plan that meets your organization’s specific needs.
  3. New leadership role – As organizations evolve and grow, often times new leadership roles need to be created to support the expansion. Sufficient time will need to be dedicated to creating an “ideal candidate profile,” as well as identifying core competencies, capabilities and responsibilities. As constituents inside and outside the organization weigh in, the wide range of feedback and perspectives can be difficult to weed through. A search firm can help to effectively navigate this process. As expert interviewers, they have the experience and ability to ask thought-provoking questions, synthesize feedback and outline a position profile that clearly defines the needs for the role. They can also create a consistent and targeted approach to advertising the opportunity, identifying qualified candidates and guiding the search committee throughout the candidate evaluation process.
  4. Internal vs. external candidates – Are there internal candidates who might be interested in applying? Managing internal vs. external candidates should be handled skillfully. It’s a delicate balance, and search consultants will ensure all candidates go through the same process and are evaluated objectively for their competencies, capabilities, readiness and fit. At the same time, internal candidates will be provided an added layer of care and transparency. This professional and respectful process will increase the likelihood of retaining any internal candidates who do not receive the role.

The Catapult Difference

The Catapult team has conducted numerous searches for CEOs and other key leaders. This experience combined with our executive coaching and consulting work with boards and leadership teams has given us a unique perspective on what makes executives and teams thrive. If you’re preparing for a key leadership transition, contact us and we’ll help you design a plan for success.

For more information, click HERE.

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

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