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The Importance of Making The Right Choice

The Importance of Making The Right Choice

What to consider when hiring an Executive Search firm.

The importance of making the ‘right’ appointment at Senior/Executive level is indicative of how effectively the organization/business will perform in the futureFailure to make the ‘right’ appointment will exponentially damage your business’ pathway to success.

Traditionally hiring firms will look to relationships that already between exist between them and with Executive Search Firms.  While this is often a very successful strategy; relying on the search firm’s existing knowledge of your business, it is also proven that alternating between two core Executive Search firms can improve the performance of the individual Executive Search firms when working on assignments on your behalf.  In other words, it keeps them on their toes!  This may sound exceedingly petty, but statistically proven to be correct and true.

If your business has not utilized the services of an Executive Search firm in the past, you should be clear on your expectations of the Search firm and you should research not alone the firm but the individual contact that you are dealing with on your crucial hire project.

At executive level, the geographical location of the Search firm is not really a consideration.  A search project may concentrate on a specific location to source candidates.  Most Search firms work on a national level so locality doesn’t translate into access.  What attracts candidates is the experience of the recruiter and the Search firm.

Do not be afraid to ask questions.  Ask specific questions in relation to the Executive Search firm’s results when conducting similar searches to the project you are potentially presenting to them.  It is important to understand their success rate.  Executive Search firms may not be in a position to give references, as hiring firms may like to keep their hiring strategy for senior level and head of function roles confidential.  Do not feel spurned or impaired if an Executive Search firm is not in a position to give you references from similar projects.

It is a testament to successful Executive Search firms, especially boutique firms, when they are in existence for in excess of 20 years.  These firms have stood the test of time.  During recessionary times, Executive Search firms, like any service business, are hit when hiring freezes and downsizing occurs worldwide.   While you might feel that bigger is better, using a boutique Search firms has very strong advantages.  Most Search firms have a ‘no touch’ policy with their own client firms.  Essential boutique Search firms have your best interests at heart and will ensure that they protect your business interests in the future.  When using a larger/multinational Search firm with hundreds of clients on their database, the lines become somewhat blurred and unclear and the ‘no touch’ policies are not adhered to in some instances.  You may find that you have paid a fee to a large Search firm to undertake a project on your behalf and find out later in the recruitment process that the vacancy exists as a consequence of the Search firm’s own actions.

Ask about the Executive Search firm’s database.  How current is it?  What methods and strategies do the firm use to attract candidates?  Are they good ambassadors for your company and your brand?  Are they current?  Are they trending?  Are they respected?  What are their credentials?

What services do they provide?  Ask exactly what is included in their fee structure.  Have realistic expectations.  Set out a timeline in unison with the Search firm.  Ask for a presentation – either a soft copy or a face to face meeting.  Speak to your peers and colleagues who have used Executive Search firms in recent times.  Who are they using?  Who do they recommend?  Word of mouth is a successful barometer in identifying successful Executive Search firms.

Crucial in the success of any search project is not alone the responsiveness of the Search firm but your own ability to respond to the Search firm.  Efficiency leads to effectiveness.  Communication is a two way channel.

Ensure that you are aware of terms and conditions before you instruct a Search firm to begin an assignment on behalf of your company.  Any hiccups in the process can potentially lead to breakdowns in communication not only between you and the firm but also between the firm and the target pool of candidates.  The last thing you want to do is damage your reputation in the public domain.  Be clear in your message.  Ensure that your messenger is clear in their objectives also.

Happy hunting!



Harty Search & Selection was established in 1985.  The firm has become one of the leading executive search companies in Ireland.  Please refer any queries you may have in relation to Executive Search projects to info@hartysearch.ie or by telephoning 061 414533.