Finding and hiring the right candidate for a C-suite position is an intense process. The search can be time-consuming, the negotiation period can be challenging, and the consequences of a wrong decision can be disastrous: according to some estimates, the cost of a mis-hire can be as high as 27 times the position’s base compensation (when you include factors such as time spent in the recruiting process, lost business opportunities due to poor performance, and the effect on company morale).
With so much at stake, therefore, it’s vital to handle C-suite recruitment right. For a growing number of companies, this means avoiding the do-it-yourself route, and instead working with an executive search firm to fill those critical C-suite roles. With their specialized knowledge and experience, executive search firms are able to take C-suite recruitment to the next level, bringing tools and strategies to the process that are, understandably, beyond the capabilities of the average HR department.
Key things an executive search firm can do that most companies can’t include the following:
They can reach passive job seekers
When it comes to C-suite recruitment, the conventional tactic of announcing an opening and waiting for candidates to come to you just won’t cut it. Studies have previously shown that only a very small percentage of people are actively searching for a new job, so if your recruitment tactics don’t extend beyond that group, you’re potentially missing out on a wealth of talent.
Executive search firms, on the other hand, specialize in connecting with what are known as passive job seekers: these are people who are satisfied (enough) in their current role, but would be willing to consider another offer if approached. In other words, they are people who won’t see your job posting because they’re not looking for a new job, but would be open to learning about opportunities at your company if someone reached out to them.
This is exactly what executive search firms do best. A good executive search firm will boast an extensive personal network of potential top-level candidates, as well as up-to-date recruiting databases and effective headhunting techniques designed to reach passive candidates. This means that when your company has a C-suite opening, an executive search firm will likely already have several candidates in mind who could fill it: candidates that your company might never have connected with on its own.
They can move quickly
Because executive search firms are constantly reaching out to passive candidates and keeping tabs on the ebb and flow of people in top-level positions, they can bring another incredibly valuable asset to your C-suite recruitment process: speed. Filling executive positions is often a matter of urgency, but it’s difficult to move quickly when you’re starting from square one. However, when you work with an executive search firm, there’s no need to spend time assembling an initial pool of candidates because the firm has already done that for you. Instead, you can skip ahead to the screening and interview stage, which means that your future hire can be in place that much sooner.
They are committed to diversity and inclusion
In today’s changing world and workforce, more and more organizations are looking for greater diversity in the C-suite. But companies working on their own — and therefore often relying on longstanding and, unfortunately, biased recruitment strategies — don’t always know where to find diverse executive candidates or how best to reach them. Many executive search firms, on the other hand, have been working on diversity and inclusion efforts for some time as part of their efforts to stay ahead of how work and workers are evolving. Once again, this means that your company doesn’t have to start from scratch when it comes to reaching out to diverse candidates, as the talent pool an executive search firm can draw from will already contain a range of people with differing perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds.
They can be discreet
Of all the reasons why companies choose to work with executive search firms, discretion is perhaps the most important one. In some C-suite recruitment scenarios, underperforming executives aren’t yet aware that they are set to be replaced; in other cases, your company’s ideal candidate may already be employed by a partner or other organization that you have a long relationship with. In both of these situations, discretion and confidentiality are absolutely essential, but are difficult to achieve if your company is the one in charge of the recruitment process. Partnering with an executive search firm offers a way to resolve this dilemma. When recruitment is outsourced to an impartial third party, your company can better maintain workplace discreetness while still staying in control of the search. This helps avoid damaging relationships, limits workplace tension, and maintains a vital degree of neutrality for all parties.