CEOs and C-suite executives often identify failure to attract and retain top talent as their No. 1 business issue. The key to success is having the right leaders leading in the right way. Aiding in this are executive talent search and assessment providers, who can profoundly impact businesses. As President and CEO of AESC, I am often asked what hiring organizations look for before signing an agreement with an executive search firm from those looking to hire and candidates alike.
Here I share what hiring organizations want to know about an executive search firm and how it affects candidates:
- How deep is their access? Core to the value of executive search firms is their ability to interest and engage top candidates who are successful and satisfied in their current roles. Experienced executive search advisors will have access to the highest-performing leaders within an industry. Because you are naturally concerned about confidentiality as a candidate, trust in any executive recruiter you connect with is essential. You are not willing to risk a leak that could negatively impact your current role or the firm you lead. Firms looking to hire an executive search firm want to work with an establish firm who you and elite executives like you will trust your information with.
- Will they ensure confidentiality? Trust is not only critical to you, but also to the hiring organization. High-performing organizations cannot afford to risk either internal or external uncertainty about a CEO or highly influential executive’s standing or tenure within a company. Any perceived uncertainty can have a profound negative impact on the internal organizational culture and the external brand, and can reduce confidence among customers, shareholders and other stakeholders. An ethical search firm will ensure that a search will be held in the most confidential and discreet manner.
- Will they be objective? Companies looking for new C-Suite leaders seek external counsel and strategic advice often because they are too close to the action themselves to see other angles. A quality executive search consultant will bring depth and breadth of experience — beyond one firm, one industry, one market and even one position. They understand what types of organizations to put you in front of as a candidate, trends in terms of new requirements you show highlight as a leader, key qualities you possess that can grow the organization and so much more. The right firm will help both candidates and clients envision new possibilities and uncover pain points to ensure a strong culture fit.
- Can they help you attract the best? With a quest for innovation, there is an increased demand to attract a diverse slate of top executive candidates who can deliver fresh perspectives to the hiring organization. Quality executive search firms understand this priority and have focused on expanding their own networks beyond the “usual suspects” to identify top talent. Today’s landscape is a candidate’s market, so you as a job seeker can afford to be highly selective to be sure you are making a move to an organization where you are most likely to succeed. Hiring organizations want to work with organizations that can present their opening as a compelling opportunity and entice you to throw your hat in the ring.
- Do they have the expertise? A quality executive search consultant will have an experience-backed understanding of the market, the industry and the evolution of key functional leadership roles. These trends are critical in the search for not only the leaders of today, but those who can lead an organization through transformation for the future. Just as you look to connect with recruiter who align with your skillset and goals, hiring organizations need an executive search firm that understands them and their competitive landscape.
- What are their assessment capabilities? As a trusted advisor, a quality executive search consultant will take their deep knowledge of the industry, the organization and the role to assess candidates. Because they have strong, long-standing relationships with you as a candidate, they can also look at you holistically as an executive leader to ensure you are not just a good fit on paper, but you will be the right leader for the organization and its strategic focus. An executive recruiter brings years of experience combining the art and the science of assessment to this critical process — beginning with a preliminary assessment and then getting much more in depth with you when you become a finalist for the role.
- Can they minimize risk? Highly qualified executive search consultants reduce the risk of making the wrong hire. The risks associated with an unsuccessful hire can be catastrophic. The selection of the right trusted advisor ensures that the entire process is a success.