As you are well aware, recruiting for an executive position is critical to the success of your business. But it is also a time-consuming, complex process. If you’re asking yourself, do I need an executive search firm, because you’re wondering if the investment is worth it? The answer, as you might expect, is that it depends.
Executive search firms provide tremendous value to their clients, but as with any service, you have to understand when the investment makes sense. If you’re an early-stage company without a lot of funding, your decision is different from a later-stage company that is looking to go public in the next year. Regardless of your maturity, below we describe a few ways to know if you need an executive search firm.
HR departments often struggle to know when to recommend partnering with an executive search firm. A firm’s ability to reach candidates, especially passive candidates, will typically far exceed the company’s reach. Unlike HR’s growing list of responsibilities, executive search firms have a focused purpose…finding, recruiting, and ensuring the success of the best candidate for your specific situation.
If you have an executive role that has proven difficult to fill, the first step to take is to understand why you haven’t been able to find or hire the right candidate. This could be for a number of reasons. As noted above, you may have limited reach, the skill set you’re looking for may be in short supply, you may have misaligned expectations and compensation, the list could go on. But until you understand why, you’ll continue to have trouble filling the role.
Executive search firms are your partner in the hiring process. They bring a level of experience, knowledge, and understanding to guide you through the process. They help you set expectations and provide insight that will lead to better decision-making factors. Good executive search firm partners are transparent and build trust with you, and will expect the same in return. The best way to leverage a firm is to treat them as an extension of your HR team.
Executive search firms extend your candidate pool, and they can help find the right person for hard-to-fill roles. Another time to consider engaging them is when you have an underperforming executive. Often, companies will need to begin a search when the current executive is still in their role. Executive search firms operate with the utmost level of confidentiality. This could also come into play if you’re recruiting from a rival firm. When keeping an executive search quiet is important, executive search firms are a great option.
One area that has been difficult for many firms is diversity at the executive level. One reason for the slow adoption of increased diversity is the lack of candidates from diverse backgrounds. If the candidate pool is limited, executive search firms can help you find them. The benefits of diversifying leadership include increased revenues, improved decision making, and higher employee engagement.
Another challenge for executive roles and board seats is succession planning. Most companies don’t think about this until the 11th hour. When hiring with succession planning in mind, the skill set, both soft and hard skills, is expanded from hiring for a singular role. Too often, companies face a leadership change without having the best possible candidate already in house. If you know a CEO, board member, or other critical roles within your company who is going to be leaving in the next 18 months, engaging an executive search firm to help ensure you have a succession plan in place is critical.
If you find yourself in one of the positions we listed above or a similar situation, we’re here to help. Sheer Velocity is a boutique executive search firm with retained search partners in over 35 countries. In addition to the traditional skills an executive requires, we also focus on your culture as a key determinant of the best candidates. Strong companies are built on a foundation of a strong culture and we pay close attention to all the details that will ensure a lasting fit.