Five Ways Businesses can Cultivate Success with an Executive Recruiter

At some point during their lifespan, many companies experience the need for new leadership. This requirement can be caused by the unfortunate departure of an executive employee, such as moving on or retirement, the need to vet an outside source against an internal employee or the promising development of a new position as the business expands and explores new areas.

Whatever the case, many businesses find themselves working with an executive recruiter to ensure they get the right person for the job. With that in mind, how can a business optimize their relationship with an executive recruiter to achieve best possible results and hire top talent?


Set Clear Expectations and Boundaries


While you may be open to various options when it comes to recruiting for an executive position, there are likely set limitations on which you are unable or unwilling to compromise. Be sure to outline exactly what you need for this role, such as someone who understands and can commit to the idiosyncrasies of the position. Communicate what aspects of the job you’re willing to negotiate on, such as salary. In addition to your expectations for the job, be sure to clearly identify your expectations of the recruitment process, such as time limits. This clarity will help open a discussion with the executive recruiter regarding the process over the coming weeks or months.


Communicate Openly and Honestly


Now is not the time to sweep things under the rug. If there are additional challenges to working within your organization, or with this position particularly, let the executive recruiter know. Sharing this background doesn’t mean the information will be passed on to potential candidates but gives the executive recruiter the whole picture to keep in the back of their mind during the selection process.

Furthermore, if you have any concerns or questions make them known. Communication will be your most valuable tool during the recruitment process.


Take Time to Learn About the Process


If you’ve never worked with an executive recruiter before, take some time to learn about the procedure. Ask them questions about how they source candidates, screening processes and timelines. A very important question to consider is how you will pay.

Most executive search firms have you pay the entire fee in the first two months.  Interestingly, 40% of all invoices paid by companies go to paying for a role not filled.  Try to find a pay for performance model.  This is not a contingency model but one that has the client in mind first.

Knowing the different limiting factors, success metrics, and milestones will help you manage expectations and keep abreast of developments. Identifying these components can prevent frustration caused by simple misunderstandings.


Consider the Whole Person


The idea that one’s work and home life are two separate entities is an archaic way of thinking when it comes to running a business. This new way of thinking is especially relevant in executive positions, which often require extended hours and mobile access during weekends and vacation scenarios.

Work with your executive recruiter to explore candidates beyond the resume. Who are they? What can you garner from reading between the lines on their CV? If they don’t have direct experience in the type of position you’re hiring for, what skill sets are transferable? Considering the whole person can help you attract top talent. Be sure to work with someone who shares the same mentality.


Evaluate your Current Leadership


Who are the current leaders in your organization? What skills do they possess that make them competent executives? What aspects of their leadership style do not mesh with your organizational culture?

Rather than starting from scratch when identifying what type of individual you want in this role, base your framework on the current executives in your business. If you’re recruiting to fill an empty position that has already existed for some time, consider the former employee. What did they do well? What would you have changed? These are important discussions that should take place amongst key decision makers of the business before being brought forth to the executive recruiter.

Creating a productive working relationship with an executive recruiter can save your organization time and money by ensuring you hire the right person for the job.

Has your business worked with an executive recruiter before? What advice would you give for facilitating a productive working relationship? Share your comments on LinkedIn or Twitter.


Meredith Wailes is the Senior Associate of Talent Acquisition, Assessments and Training for Preston & Partners. With expertise in coaching, executive searches, assessments, and career development, Meredith is also a founding member and the Chair of Membership for the Private Directors Association- Charlotte Chapter. She is also the creator of “SeeD,” a scholarship fund dedicated to female leaders who manage, operate, and/or own for-profit businesses in Charlotte, NC. For more information visit Meredith on LinkedIn and Twitter.