Mar 12, 2018

How Executive Search Firms Work for Their Clients

Recently, a friend from college asked me if I could describe the value of executive search firms. She is currently looking for her next COO, but she’s 60 days into the search, and no ideal candidates have applied for the position.

She’s used all the expected channels, but isn’t getting the results. Time and resources have been spent without results. Meanwhile, the organization is still lacking a critical player in operations and frustration may be setting in.

Typically, this is where most people engage an executive search partner. These companies will enter the picture after time and money have been wasted. Instead, cut the waste and hire an executive search firm at the start.

The following information as been provided to help answer the question heard most often, “are executive search firms worth it?”

Executive Search Firm Engagement Checklist

How Executive Search Firms Work

Quantity but Not Quality

When you post a position in the usual places, you’re reaching a wide audience, but it is not likely that you’ll find your ideal candidate this way. The top talent isn’t looking at job sites to find their next opportunities; they leverage connections and partnerships. Most hires for C-level candidates occur through these types of networks, not through parsing job boards. And many of the best are passive candidates you’ll never reach with postings.

Time is Money

Also, it can take on average 3-6 months to source and place a top-level executive, even if you make a full-time commitment to the search. Does your company have bandwidth for that, reviewing applicant after applicant to no avail?

How Executive Search Firms Find Your Ideal Candidate

Role Definition

First, a good executive search firm is experienced in helping you identify the who, putting a finer point on the candidate you are looking for. You only need one person- the right one. Executive search firms convert the vision for the COO role into search criteria.

Expertise and Access

Once the role is defined, executive search firms use their knowledge and experience to identify the who.

Once the who is defined, you need to find this person. A key advantage of executive search firms is access. Firms that are worth your time have pools of active and passive candidates they’ve curated through networking and industry connections. The people you want may not even be looking for a new job. The search firms know where to find them. And some candidates who might have been off limits to you can be reached through a third party.       

Make the Wise Choice

Consider my friend's situation:
  • Time and money already invested in search efforts

  • No strong candidates on the horizon

  • Next step may be mining the same pools again to no avail

Where does she go from here? She can continue to throw time and money at the search and likely yield similar results, or she can hire and exclusive search partner to do the work for her.

The Value Executive Search Firms Provide:

  • Clear, specific definition of who you’re looking for informed by years of experience creating profiles with a variety of clients

  • Access to a stronger talent pool built through networks and relationships rather than relying on current pool of applicants scanning job boards

  • A cleaner way to reach competitors’ talent pools

Are you able to wait six months to onboard your new COO?

If not, do your research and find the best executive search firm for your needs. Here is a free checklist of things to consider during your search to find the right firm for your needs.

Kaplan Executive Search is a top retained executive search firm specializing in recruiting Chief Operating Officers "COOs", and other executive-level talent for the cannabis industry, companies running on EOS®, and other lower middle-market businesses. 

Next Step:

Check out our Abridged Guide to Hiring a Chief Operating Officer, containing top considerations for CEOs and Business Owners when hiring a COO.

The Abridged Guide to Hiring a COO


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