If you’ve ever run a recruitment process, either in-house or at a recruitment agency, you know it’s not as simple as throwing up one job ad on seek and waiting for the star recruits to roll in.
Executive recruitment adds another level of complexity due to the skill and experience required to search, connect and establish a dialogue with high powered candidates at the top of their career ladder.
Not to mention of course, the strategic importance of these candidates because of which competition at this level is rife.
All good recruitment involves developing a network of contacts and building relationships with talent. The higher stakes your recruitment needs however, the more talent and skills you’ll need to ensure top tier candidates are found and approached accordingly.
In this post we discuss key considerations for hiring an executive recruitment agency over recruiting internally.
Full disclaimer: This of course is a subjective post as we are an executive recruitment firm however after being involved in the industry for over a decade, we’ve learned a thing or two when it comes to executive recruitment. It’s also a question we’re asked often and thought this post would help shed some light.
Executive search technique really is a specialisation
Searching for the right executive candidate can be difficult. Unbeknown to someone who hasn’t experience the process themselves, the act of putting up an ad is only 5% of the process!
It’s not on a regular occurrence that you will need to recruit CEOs 4 times a year (If you do, there are probably other issues you might need to address first!). It is for this reason that you want someone who is across this process and in touch with the market your targeting literally on a daily basis.
At the senior level in an organisation, there are no frequently recruited roles, and internal recruiters don’t generally have solid experience (or cadence of frequent experience) in being able to locate and nab the best talent.
This is different to different to operational roles or roles which need to be recruited for throughout the year on a regular basis.
Most internal recruitment or HR teams have the ability take care of these operational roles, because of the frequency that they deal with these kinds of projects.
Finding the right executive candidates comparatively requires much more attention to detail. For instance, at Kingston there is a comprehensive pre-work stage that comes with every recruitment role. This involves meeting with the company and discussing where they are going in their current strategic plan and culture. We do our best to understand the trajectory of the business currently so we can hire not only for their present needs but future needs too.
Agencies which specialise in recruitment have been doing so for years and have built up a network of contacts they can refer to. We know how meticulous this process can be, it may involve researching the right candidate through ringing heads of industry or reviewing conferences and finding who is presenting in them or attending.
Aside from a strong network, executive search techniques rely on a variety of technologies and their associated expertise. This could mean analysing advanced Boolean searches or build algorithm searches.
The courtship is an art form
Most executives are passive. That means they are not looking for a job. And who blames them? Chances are they are happy where they are, built a solid breadth of experience internally and they know what they are doing. Which is why exec recruitment must be a deeply consultative approach with both the potential client as well as with the organisation.
Simply shooting out a seek ad or private in-mailing on LinkedIn to someone here is akin to asking someone to marry you after meeting them 5 minutes at a bar.
Executives may not have a driver to leave, already having achieved a superior position in their career, our approach therefore would need to be well considered and timed incredibly well.
We could have the most lucrative role for a candidate, but a call at the wrong time or sharing the wrong data based on their public profile could lose them forever.
Recruitment agencies become well-versed with the tender relationship between executive candidates. They run through a deeply consultative approach which an internal recruitment team would not have the experience or expertise on.
Companies don’t have the time
As part of a growing, busy company, the last thing you need is interruptive outbound sales calls. This in line with the complexity of executive candidate search and the lengthy task of putting up the right ad makes in-house recruitment a time-consuming task!
An internal team will have multiple roles at any point. They can be known to have up to 40 roles at any one time. An executive recruitment agency on the other hand will only be using one team towards one role. This means they are spending a deeper investment of time and people power. They then repeat this process over and over again, and consequently develop an expertise only experience can bring.
Not having the same level of exposure, in-house recruiters may be committing to their many other work roles besides their job of searching for the right candidate. They are consequently less efficient in the process and may take much longer to find the right person.
The other to note is speed. Speed kills, or lack thereof, in attracting the best talent. Speed in candidate placing is key and many companies lose talent because their process takes too long. Check out a video we recently did that explain this in more detail.
Professional recruitment agencies are set a specific role and an allocated team then immediately go on the hunt for the right candidate. They don’t have work roles or enquiries to distract them from their extensive search process.
Culture matching is easier with an external lens
Finding a candidate that fits the culture of the work space is crucial to developing high performing teams.
Human Resource teams are traditionally custodians of culture initiatives in the workplace. However when it comes to larger organisations, they are not exposed to the nuances of their organisations culture across different departments and teams, for example the marketing teams culture or the operational culture.
This doesn’t necessarily mean HR is out of touch as it is out of step of the department of team that the role is to be recruited for.
A good executive recruitment firm, as part of developing the recruitment strategy in their pre-work process, will identify this culture and match it against the candidate pool explicitly or implicitly.
Access to technology
Trawling databases, scanning public job boards and private networks and then referencing this against our own databases is a time-consuming task.
To tell you the truth, recruitment agencies aren’t in hold of a magic software where we can punch in what you need and it spits out a magical, one-of-a-kind unicorn talent. It’s more about having a complementary tool for professional search and selections teams that simplifies their process for them.
What we’re essentially talking about is (the almost magic) algorithmic search, and it’s wonderfully powerful when yielded correctly.
At Kingston, our search platform was developed through working with very talented minds to build a really clever algorithm. It essentially crawls through information in the public domain, including but not limited to; PR releases, social profiles, posts, conferences, competitor job boards and so on. The Kingston algorithmic search can look for people who don’t have a problem with their current roles or employers, making it a pro at identifying non-active candidates.
The number one question we ask a client when they come to us is ‘Why didn’t your internal recruitment process succeed?’
In summary: Experience and time.
Sometimes, the process is run by one person who still has to do their ‘main’ job. This can be wildly inefficient when compared to an executive recruitment team whose main job IS finding the right candidate, backed by a wealth of expertise in digital research, gathering information and access to a vast network of professional contacts.
If you would like any help with your search and selection process, feel free to contact us.
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