Executive search firms are professional services companies that specialize in providing management candidates to employers. They help organizations find the right person for the right position, often through a specialized search process. Executive search firms have extensive experience in corporate and organizational needs and their services include not only hiring executives, but also evaluating, training, and developing them. Executive search firms focus on attracting highly qualified and experienced senior managers and executives to occupy strategically important roles within an organization.
Typical positions include C-suite, president, general manager, vice president (all forms), director (all forms), and senior management. If the position has strategic oversight, either for the entire organization (high-level management) or for a division or department (mid-level management), consider appointing an executive search firm that specializes in your industry or business function. Executive search is a very proactive hiring process and focuses primarily on interacting with passive candidates. These are people who are not necessarily looking for a new job and are not looking at recruitment advertisements or posting their resumes to contingency database agencies*.
Searching for an executive job can be a lengthy process. As you get older, there are fewer and fewer opportunities that can be an attractive next step. Meanwhile, the competition for every opportunity is getting stronger. It's no wonder that, from an executive's perspective, an executive's job search can take a year or longer.
Advice from Executive RecruitersWe asked management recruiters and executives from hired executive search firms what advice they would provide to executives who want to go through the hiring process.
The search for an executive from the perspective of the hiring organization usually takes 90 days, although it can obviously vary. However, from an executive's perspective, the job search can take considerably longer. To give an extreme example: if you plan to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, you can expect around 60 opportunities to materialize this year. To get hired, you'll need to be identified by the recruiter and then go through a lengthy interview process where you'll face some solid competitors, often more than 100 of them.
The reality is that it can take an executive a year to be hired for a new leadership position.
The Role of Executive RecruitersExecutive and management recruiters go out to find the best executive for the opportunity that comes their way. Executive recruiters prefer to take the initiative and carry out a meticulous search for the most qualified and suitable candidate. To do this, executive search firms hire specialized researchers who will compile a long list of potential candidates for an opportunity. The research process will vary from search to search.
Tips for ExecutivesTherefore, executives must take steps to ensure that when an executive recruiter knocks on the door, they find him (while still remembering that he is not seen looking), the executive search is done privately for both the recruiter and the potential candidate seeking employment.
While most people understand the importance of networking, few actually do much about it, even though it's an effective way to increase their chances of getting noticed among their peer group and across the industry. However, there's no doubt that spending time growing your executive brand online is an important part of this process. Creating and selecting your brand helps you get the right visibility from the right type of people. One thing to keep in mind: Many LinkedIn users assume that “who has viewed my profile will tell them what recruiters have been considering them”; generally speaking, it doesn't tell the whole story, even if you have Premium versions of LinkedIn. Recruiters often use LinkedIn in “private mode”, so you'll rarely know who looked at you. To increase your chances of success, it's worth optimizing your LinkedIn profile based on the types of opportunities you're interested in.
If you have experience in pharmaceutical leadership positions, you probably don't expect to be the right candidate for a CEO position in the investment banking or financial services sectors. Accepting this and building your profile around positions you could be seriously considered for can greatly improve your success rate. In addition to optimizing your profile based on the opportunities you want, it's also important that your activity on LinkedIn encourages recruiters to contact you. Interacting on the platform will generate greater visibility, and activating “Open to Opportunities” on your LinkedIn dashboard will have a significant impact on the number of profile visits you receive from both recruiters and hiring managers. However, while it's good advice to use this feature, it's not good advice to use phrases like “active search” in your profile - there is data to suggest that this will make you less attractive to an executive recruiter.
The Executive ResumeThe executive resume is an important document but perhaps not as important at the executive level as it is for lower-level candidates.
An active candidate looking for an entry-level position is expected to apply for a job and therefore needs a strong resume throughout the process. The high-level executive is usually contacted by an executive recruiter. At this stage when the approach is made, the recruiter will already know most of the information that your resume will contain. However, there is no doubt that you will need such a document at some point in your search so it is advisable to prepare. Do your homework: know the regulations; know the company you are going to meet; if possible get to know the person you are going to meet; it's a two-way street; make sure you have sensible questions handy; try to identify questions that your executives are struggling with. We've created an extensive blog with detailed examples of interview questions and answers - our advice is always tailored towards helping executives succeed in their job searches.