12th December 2016

Getting The Best From Your Executive Search Partner

Let me ask you a question: why do you go to the doctor when you’re sick?

The answer’s obvious, you’re no doubt thinking; it’s because doctors have the knowledge, skills and experience to diagnose and treat you. To do that, your doctor follows a structured process to really drill down into what the problem is – and this includes asking the right questions. By asking these questions, your doctor can rule out all the possible sources of your issue, and hopefully reveal the root cause.

Sounds simple, right? But what has that got to do with executive recruitment?

Well, while it might not be the best analogy, it’s the same methods top executive search firms use when they’re headhunting. In other words, they apply a structured process of elimination in order to identify what businesses are looking for; the best talent possible. Like doctors, they also start by asking the right questions first…


Q1. What is the problem?

If you’ve engaged an executive recruitment firm to track down talent, you’re no doubt looking to solve a problem. Maybe it’s because your HR or Talent team don’t have the resources to do it internally, or you simply lack the time to get it done properly on your own. In any case, this should be one of the first questions your executive search partner asks before casting the net wide and far to find the best candidate for the role. In order to avoid wasting your business’ time and money, they want to make sure they’re focusing on the gaps — and not duplicating tasks you’ve already got covered.


Q2. What are the key deliverables for the role?

Your executive search partner needs to know everything about the job role and where it fits within your organisation in order to put forward the best candidates for you. They should be asking for details about exactly what you expect your new hire to deliver, whether it be a boost in sales, increased staff productivity, more efficient workflows or other KPI’s relevant to your business. This information is essential in helping them get the best outcome possible. The more detailed and accurate brief you provide to your search firm, the greater the chances are that they’ll find you the right people.


Q3. What personal attributes does your ideal candidate possess in order to succeed in the role?

Executive search is about more than just scanning a CV for the right skills and experience. By understanding the personal qualities you’re looking for in a potential candidate, your executive search partner will be able to tailor their search and speed up the headhunting process.

One of the major benefits of hiring top executive search firms is that they already know what to look for in a future leader — and that doesn’t just mean skills, experience and qualifications, but also their ability to work within a team, cope under stress, add value to the business and stay in their role over the long term. A recent study found that 56% of millennials have little interest in managerial roles or corporate ladder-climbing, making it particularly important to use recruiting techniques which identify people who possess the necessary ambition to successfully thrive within a company’s ranks (put simply, ways to separate the time wasters from the talent).


Q4. What capabilities are you looking for in an executive search firm?

It’s impossible to get the results you want if you don’t hire the right expertise in the first place. A professional executive search firm will understand if there’s no point teaming up if they don’t actually have the capabilities to provide what you need — and they’ll be honest in telling you if that’s the case. That’s why it’s important to pick the right executive search partner to support you with their expertise, contacts, industry knowledge, and research capabilities. And you might also think about if they’re the type of people who you want to work closely with, and entrust them to advocate your organisation to potential candidates.


Q5. What obstacles might prevent us finding the right person?

Tell your search partner upfront if there are any problems you suspect might arise during the recruitment process. For example, you might already know that you’re looking for candidates with very niche, hard-to-find skillsets, or that the best people for the role have already been snapped by competitors. Or, are there challenging circumstances in your business that will make it tough to attract people?  These aspects can significantly influence the strategies they take for executive search — for instance, with 75% of employed senior executives open to being approached by a recruiter*, they might decide to narrow down the search by going directly to the source.


By asking the right questions, you can trust your executive search partner will get you the best outcomes. But don’t forget to have your own questions ready for them too; working together collaboratively will make the process a lot easier, and help you fill your vacancies faster with the best candidates available. For more tips on what a great candidate looks like, check out Generation Talent’s Talent Assessment Program.

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Greg Cox

Greg Cox

With more than 35 years in Senior Human Resources and consulting roles throughout Australia, Asia and Europe, Greg is highly sought after for his wise and pragmatic counsel. His is depth of understanding around how businesses succeed, has played a major role in some of the world’s most respected companies including; Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo, Cadbury Schweppes, Thorn EMI, Telstra, AAPT and UGL Limited.
Greg Cox

Categories: Aligning Talent Developing Talent Finding Talent

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