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How To Do an Executive Job Search

Kristin Bachman
5 min read

The ability to quickly and effectively fill empty job positions is critical to organizational success. For executive-level positions, staffing is especially vital. And yet these searches notoriously take longer.

In fact, while the average “time to fill” across all jobs is 36 days, the executive search process can take significantly longer — even without the additional challenges of hiring in the current employee’s job market.

And then what happens when you finally fill a C-suite position only to discover that your new hire is not the right fit after all? The process starts all over again. Factor in that the average cost of hiring a new employee is around $4,000, and there’s no better embodiment of the expression, “time is money.”

With so much on the line with executive job searches, it’s crucial to get it right. Read on to learn more about what’s involved in an executive job search, how an executive job search firm can help, and proven tips for conducting a successful executive job search.


What Is an Executive Job Search?

An “executive job search” is exactly what it sounds like: a type of job search conducted specifically for upper management and other c-suite and numerous other senior executive positions: 

  • Chief executive officers (CEO)
  • Chief financial officers (CFO)
  • Chief operating officers (COO)
  • Chief information officers (CIO)
  • Chief compliance officers (CCO)
  • Chief human resource managers (CHRM)
  • Chief security officers (CSO)
  • Chief analytics officers (CAO)
  • Chief marketing officers (CMO)
  • Chief data officers (CDO)

While a leadership role job search is similar to a standard job search in theory, it can be very different in practice. Due to the pivotal influence of these roles on the growth and health of organizations, these job opportunities often require sophisticated and specialized knowledge and skills.

As such, the process of identifying and hiring the right candidates during an executive job search is more complex than it is for entry-level positions. Creating a pool of senior-level prospects with the right combination of experience, strategic skills, and leadership capabilities takes time, resources, and industry expertise.

This is why many organizations turn to executive job search firms to manage their executive job searches. Focused entirely on managing the unique complexities of executive job searches, executive search firms specialize in quickly, efficiently, and affordably filling vacant executive-level positions.

Not only that, but the best executive search firms also offer job seekers the next level of trust and assurance. In fact, the most successful executive job search firms facilitate the best results in several ways, including their knowledge of client needs, understanding of cultural fit, and open and regular communication, according to a study of 2,500 executive-level job candidates.

They also have the potential to provide honest feedback and support during onboarding — both of which are valued by candidates and sometimes missing from their executive job search experiences.


What To Look For in an Executive Job Search Firm

Given the difference between the mutually satisfying benefits of top executive search firms and the poorer outcomes resulting from inferior executive job search firms, we cannot overstate the importance of choosing the right executive job search firm.

But what differentiates a “good” executive job search firm from a “bad” one? Here’s a look at three things to look for when evaluating executive job search firms.

A Wide Range of Executive Networks

A major benefit of working with an executive job search is the best-possible executive level talent — at their fingertips.

In addition to leveraging job boards, recruitment platforms, social media networks, and their own personal networks, executive recruiters also utilize referral-based executive search. While companies are largely starting from scratch when filling vacant positions, leading executive search firms can immediately start mining an entire ecosystem of potential candidates you won’t find in traditional recruiting channels.

Your company can tap into the largest number of qualified candidates by working with an executive search firm, eliminating time-consuming searching and screening in the process.

Technology That Decreases Hire Time

Digital data has transformational potential — but only if you can use it. Social media recruitment, AI, virtual interviews, and recruitment platforms offer tremendous potential for recruiters and companies looking to enhance the hiring process.

Not to mention that in the fast-moving technology space, we’re always unlocking new potential for new and better ways of doing things. Choosing a technology-powered firm ensures you’ll be ahead of the curve when it comes to benefiting from these advancements.

Results That Speak for Themselves

There’s no better way to see the benefits of partnering with an executive job search firm than by looking at cold, hard results.

Results demonstrate what recruiters can do for your company and showcase a firm’s commitment to tracking, measuring, and improving.


How To Perform an Executive Job Search

There’s no denying that executive job searches are complex. As with most things, however, they’re much easier when you break them down into more manageable steps. To that end, we’ve compiled this step-by-step guide to performing an executive job search.

1. Identify the Roles and Responsibilities Your Organization Lacks

The first step in the process is a simple one: Identify the roles your organization is lacking. In some cases, it’s as simple as filling a recently vacated position. In others, you may be looking to overhaul an existing executive role or introduce a new one. Regardless, the more thoroughly you drill down on exactly what you want and need, the better positioned you’ll be to find the best candidates.

2. Create an Agenda for Your Executive Search (or Use Hunt Club)

Many factors go into the executive job search process. An agenda aggregates the many elements into one go-to document that will keep all of your hiring team members in alignment. Your agenda may include information like:

  • An executive summary overviewing why you’re recruiting for the role, the desired result, and how the exec will contribute to your organizational objectives
  • Your goal(s) for the search
  • The scope of the search and deliverables
  • The role's relevant team members and their responsibilities
  • Key performance metrics and success factors
  • A communication plan

While it’s possible to tackle all of this internally, there is another option: enlisting the services of an executive recruiting firm like Hunt Club that functions as your on-demand talent acquisition team.

We’ll use our connections, expertise, and hyper-focus to handle all the aspects included in this agenda — including sourcing, screening, interviewing, and negotiating with talent — so you can welcome your new leadership team member quickly and with confidence.

Working with an executive recruiting firm like Hunt Club means bypassing the remaining steps on this list, freeing up your staff to work on other mission-critical tasks.

3. Create a Thorough Yet Concise Job Listing

An effective executive job description does much more than merely encapsulating a particular role's tasks and responsibilities. It also expresses your company’s culture and core values in a way that inspires the right candidates to work for some potential employers over others.

This is especially important when you consider changing attitudes toward work. People are no longer satisfied with clocking in, clocking out, and collecting a paycheck. Rather, they’re now prioritizing purpose-driven work when evaluating job opportunities. When job hunters respond to job alerts, the most compelling job postings also demonstrate how job seekers can contribute to the role.

4. Start Vetting Candidates

Once your job listing is out in the world, inquiries from interested candidates will start flowing in. While your job listings will hopefully target many of the candidates you’re looking for, a finite number of people can do the job with the level of expertise you’re looking for. This step is where you drill down to find those people by vetting your candidates. Looking at a candidate’s executive resume, checking out their LinkedIn profile, and confirming that their desired salary range is acceptable are good places to start the vetting process. 

5. Get Second Opinions From Executive Search Firms

Maybe the perfect executive director candidate will jump right out at you. Or maybe you’ll wind up with three exceptional candidates for the role with similar (or disparate!) profiles and are having difficulty deciding between them. This is where a second opinion from an experienced executive search firm comes in.

Despite best efforts, bias is a fact of life in hiring. When providing a second opinion, an executive search firm will conduct an in-depth analysis of each candidate, their qualifications, and their “fit” for the role and your company. This specialized guidance can empower you to choose the most suitable candidate, move forward confidently, and increase your chances of achieving your goals.

6. Make Your Decision and Send an Offer Letter

Once you’ve decided on a candidate, it’s time to send the offer letter. Job offers are much more than formalities. They provide critical information to candidates while ensuring that hiring managers, candidates, and all other stakeholders are on the same page regarding the details of the job.

An informative and well-written offer letter can compel a candidate to accept an offer quickly. The sooner this happens, the sooner you can begin the onboarding process or move on if they decline your offer.


Try Hunt Club’s Executive Job Search Today

While many businesses ultimately lack the time and resources to optimize the executive job search process, executive search firms have plenty to go around. These specialized agencies also have industry-specific expertise and experience to help you find the right candidates, make the best impression, and accelerate the path to hiring.

Put the power of a leading executive search firm to work for your organization with a job search strategy that gets results.

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