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What is executive search?

The world of executive search may seem like smoke and mirrors to many people. It often happens quietly and out of public view. But in reality, it’s not that mysterious. Executive search is a strategic approach to identifying and recruiting executives for key leadership positions within organisations.

Often referred to as “headhunting,” executive search involves a specialised process aimed at finding candidates who have the right blend of skills, experience, and cultural fit for leadership positions within a company.

Executive recruitment requires a different approach to other kinds of talent acquisition, explains Susan Lawrence, Lead Search Consultant at Globe 24-7:

“You’re trying to get the interest of people who are gainfully employed and not necessarily a motivated job seeker to respond to a vacancy. So, as opposed to contingent search, where you might advertise a position to draw people in, executive search is about tapping people on the shoulder and saying, ‘this might be a better offer or better development and career opportunity for you’.”

Because this could be a CEO, CFO, CTO, or any other C-suite position, the impact of executive decisions reverberates throughout the entire company meaning that finding the right candidates for these roles becomes a critical function for the business.

How does executive search work?

The executive search process typically begins with a comprehensive consultation between the recruiter and the client. During this phase, the search consultant gains an understanding of the company’s culture, values, strategic objectives, and the specific requirements of the executive role in question.

Crafting a detailed position description is important in outlining the qualifications, experience, and personal attributes essential for the role. This document serves as a roadmap for the search consultant throughout the recruitment process.

Once a pool of potential candidates is identified, the search consultant employs a targeted outreach strategy. Which usually involves discreetly contacting passive candidates. This process is crucial, explains Susan:

“Many executive candidates will reveal their interests to a trusted advisor rather than going through potentially non-confidential job portals. If it becomes known that they’re looking elsewhere it may jeopardise their current employment.”

Because you need trusted relationships to attract talent at high-level positions, it isn’t always easy for in-house HR teams to recruit at this level, as opposed to specialised executive recruiters who are in conversation with these candidates regularly.

The recruiter then needs to conduct a vigorous assessment and evaluation process, which may include in-depth interviews, psychometric testing, and reference checks.

Once the client decides on a candidate, the search consultant facilitates the negotiation process, ensuring that the candidate receives an offer that makes a move justifiable. “People aren’t just looking at salaries, job growth is a big incentive too,” says Susan.

By using processes that combine market research, candidate outreach, and rigorous assessment, executive search recruiters make sure that organisations are well-positioned for sustained growth and success.

Want to know more?

Click here to find out how to choose an executive recruiter 

Click here to find out how to position yourself for an executive level role


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