Well over half of our retained recruitment assignments involve some element of Executive Search. Search works effectively when there is a definable 'market' for potential candidates that is also small enough to enable us to identify them and approach them directly. Search is often used on its own or with Internet advertising, but from time to time it is highly effective to combine it with a full press advertising campaign - see Combined Advertised Search.
As with all recruitment assignments, stage one is a thorough Briefing Meeting with our client. If Executive Search is the recommended approach, we then work with highly experienced researchers to prepare a target list of organisations and to identify the relevant management structures within those organisations. More often than not, we will involve our client at this stage, discussing the potential target individuals within those structures and agreeing where the approaches will start.
The initial, direct approaches to candidates are often confidential and need to be handled in a sensitive manner. Usually, the first objective will be to make the candidate aware of the opportunity, in outline, then to ascertain their potential interest and begin to get some further background on the appropriateness of their experience. A number of telephone conversations, often in the evening when the candidate can speak more freely, may be necessary before a mutual decision to meet.
Networking also plays a crucial part in the search process (though it is rarely sufficient on its own). We combine our own contacts with those of our professional researchers and, where appropriate, those of our client as well, to add further direction and focus to our search through specialist sector knowledge or specific recommendations. When appropriate, we can involve international researchers with relevant language skills.
From there, we move into our full retained consultancy approach, but with an even greater emphasis on the importance of careful candidate management:
- Preparing a Candidate Briefing Document comprising background on our client, full job description, candidate specification and benefits statement, which is used with candidates at the interview stage but which also forms the basis for agreeing the detailed brief with our client;
- Identifying which of the interested candidates should be fully briefed and met with face-to-face;
- Conducting an in-depth, structured interview with each of the selected candidates in which they are assessed in detail against the key success criteria for the role, as set out in the brief;
- Recommending a shortlist of the best candidates (and only those we believe are capable of doing the job);
- Producing full reports on those you agree to meet, which will summarise their strengths but also highlight any areas for further investigation or where we believe there is still room for development;
- Arranging the shortlist interviews; assisting the selection process, as necessary, through advice on structure for the shortlist interviews, for example, and attendance on the day, if required;
- Briefing and de-briefing candidates before and after those meetings; assisting as required in the final selection process; supporting the negotiations with the preferred candidate whilst 'keeping warm' any reserves;
- Generally doing whatever we can to ensure a successful outcome, including all candidate management and communication; providing regular feedback of progress throughout the assignment, either verbally or by e-mail;
- And keeping going with the process until we get a successful outcome or you tell us to stop.